PC Gamer latest storieshttp://www.pcgamer.com/feed/en-usThu, 29 Jan 2015 15:37:48 +0000yesTake On Mars expected to leave Early Access in Junehttp://www.pcgamer.com/take-on-mars-expected-to-leave-early-access-in-june/Bohemia's Martian rover sim gets a 2015 roadmap.Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:37:48 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/take-on-mars-expected-to-leave-early-access-in-june/BohemiaNewssimTake On Mars <p><em><br></em></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HrY0dU64Swmg.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5LZXBmnHfxrw.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Ss D84f99fd0d1a530275d7d1da81abf93dd798839d.1920x1080"></p><p> <em>♫&nbsp;Take On Mars (Take On Mars)&nbsp;♫</em><br> <em>♫&nbsp;Take Mars On (Take On Mars)&nbsp;♫</em><br> <em>♫&nbsp;I'll be done&nbsp;♫</em><br> <em>♫&nbsp;In about five months or so.&nbsp;</em><em>♫</em></p><p>Bohemia has&nbsp;<a href="http://mars.takeonthegame.com/news/roadmap-to-release-2015" target="_blank">posted a development roadmap</a> for their Martian rover sim, Take On Mars. From January to June, it maps out a timetable for remaining development features&mdash;including a beta release in April, and an official launch in June.</p><p>Along the way, a variety of new features are planned. Competitive multiplayer is due out next month, and a Manned Space Program mode is planned for March. "This will be story driven, focusing on survival in a catastrophic failure scenario," writes project lead&nbsp;Martin Melicharek.&nbsp;"I am sure this culmination to the Space Program mode will whet the appetite for playing with friends online in the Cooperative or planned Competitive modes."</p><p>Take On Mars recently made Andy's list of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-most-relaxing-games-on-pc/" target="_blank">PC's most relaxing games</a>. Survival sounds like a slightly more stressful addition, but basic&nbsp;red planet exploration will no doubt remain&nbsp;as soothing as always.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Yu9NA7bbRQGU.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PRdiOSWg_shx.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Roadmap To Release" style="background-color: initial;"></p> The making of Alien: Isolationhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-making-of-alien-isolation/How The Creative Assembly made Alien: Isolation the best Alien game ever.Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:10:35 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-making-of-alien-isolation/Alien: IsolationBest ofHorror <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/C9Ieyv3XSheK.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/g64eRxk_TSs0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Alien isolation 1"></p><p> Four years ago, a group of hardcore Alien fans&mdash;who also happened to be game developers&mdash;were given the opportunity of a lifetime: to make a game set in that distinctive sci-fi universe, and with the full blessing of franchise owners 20th Century Fox.</p><p> The result is Alien: Isolation, a brilliantly tense and atmospheric horror game, and the first spin-off that’s ever done HR Giger’s creature justice. While most Alien games look to James Cameron’s action-packed sequel for inspiration, The Creative Assembly used Ridley Scott’s original slow-burning 1979 horror classic as its template.</p><p> “Alien is unmistakably Fox’s property, but from the moment we pitched the original concept to them, they’ve been completely behind us,” says Alistair Hope, creative lead. “I think because we were trying to stay true in spirit to the original, they felt like it was in safe hands. It’s been a collaboration, but I don’t think we’ve&nbsp;ever come across anything where anyone’s said, ‘no, you can’t do that.’”</p><p> While most developers of licensed games are pressured to finish their work in time for a film’s release, The Creative Assembly worked under no such limitation. There hasn’t been an Alien film since 1997’s awful Resurrection (not counting the AvP series or Prometheus), and none are, as far as we know, in the works. “We had the best of both worlds. Something that was super familiar and established and brilliant, but we got to play in that space. There were very few constraints on us.”</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/q7zTf4HZS9CI.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BF_5Ou_epTh3.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Alien isolation 2"></p><p> To help them, Fox supplied an enormous archive of original production material&mdash;a whopping three terabytes of it. “It was like that moment in Pulp Fiction where they open the suitcase,” says Hope. “We were stunned that all this stuff existed. For them to be able to drop that amount of material on us was great. It gave us a really good insight into how that first film was made.”</p><p> The archive contained design blueprints, continuity polaroids, costume photography, concept art, and thousands of photos of the sets, all in high resolution. It wasn’t until they delved into this treasure trove that the developers realised they didn’t know Scott’s film as well as they thought they did.</p><blockquote> Fox supplied an enormous archive of original production material&mdash;a whopping three terabytes of it</blockquote><p> “As fans we would have said, yeah, we know what the costumes look like, but it wasn’t until we got the archive that we could really look at&nbsp;the details in John Mollo’s costume design. We deconstructed them and tried to put that level of detail, care and attention into our costumes.”</p><p> Studying the material in depth was essential, he says. “You can think you know it inside out, but it’s not until you actually investigate closely that you get a full understanding of it.”</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uFWuMSiGTNCd.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0VBVg6QW-NAb.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Alien Isolation head"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">THE KEY</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1N06st1NRxyY.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nOvRZ_Q2ESZI.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Alien the key" style="background-color: initial;"> </p> <p> Look closely at the character model for Amanda and you’ll see a key around her neck. It looks like it’s from a fi ling cabinet or a lockbox, but this is the future, so it could be anything. It’s never addressed in the game, or in any of the DLC. I ask Hope to shed some light on it and he’s reluctant to answer. “I don’t think we need to explain everything,” he says after a long pause. </p> </div><p> Developing the game also gave the team the chance to meet a key figure in the making of the film: editor Terry Rawlings. “That was amazing. The man’s a genius. He edited Blade Runner as well, so he can do no wrong. He was able to give us additional insight. He talked about the director’s cut and the famous deleted scene where Brett and Dallas are being turned into eggs. He said that once the alien was hunting the crew, to go to that shot actually just slowed everything down.”</p><p> Pacing is something Isolation excels at, mirroring the glacial tempo of the film, but never outstaying its welcome. “We felt like there was a good variety in the game. We wanted to keep changing things up, so that just as you were getting a bit more confident, we’d throw something new at you.”&nbsp;</p><p> Some critics found the game too slow and overlong. I ask Hope why he thinks there was such a split in opinion. “We tried to put as much into the player’s hands as possible. Pace can often be determined by your own play style and how confident you’re feeling.”</p><p> You can’t talk about the making of Alien: Isolation without mentioning that art design, which is one of the defining features of the game. Rather than go for a shiny, optimistic vision of the future, the&nbsp;artists created a lo-fi and realistic sci-fi world, directly informed by the production design of the film.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5_pLxBkHSN6H.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Bm7adyFCr_mD.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Alien isolation 4" style="width: 668px;"></p><p> “This was absolutely core,” says Hope. “From day one, that was what we were going to do. We’ve always been massive fans of the first film, and this all came about because it felt like no one had ever created that experience in a game. It looks awesome. It’s really beautifully realised and considered. It’s very believable, and that’s one of the great things about that film. It’s very credible, even today.”</p><p> Hope describes Isolation’s future as mundane and grounded in reality, and says that this actually supports the horror. “It’s not technology that’s going to help you survive. When you watch Alien, there’s no sense that there’s a locker somewhere with a big gun that’s going to be the answer to the crew’s problems. Despite all this technology&mdash;which is downplayed in the film&mdash;it’s about using your instincts to survive.”</p><p> Survival is what sets Isolation apart from other Alien games, but there was a greater focus on weapons early in its development. Weapon crafting was planned, but ultimately discarded. “We thought about what people would want to do in order to survive. We explored different ideas, and one of them was fashioning weapons to defend yourself. That was quite early on, but then we realised that this game isn’t really about pulling the trigger.”</p><p> Even though it was cut, Hope says this was an important experiment. Trying things like this made them realise that the core survival concept was powerful enough to stand on its own. As well as crafting, they also experimented with viewpoint. “At one point we were exploring a thirdperson camera. It was interesting, but it was a different experience. We preferred the immediacy and intimacy of first-person. In thirdperson it became a game about jockeying the camera and looking after your avatar. But in first-person it’s you that’s being hunted. If you’re hiding behind an object and you want to get a better view of your surroundings, you have to move.”</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/c10ZSpRCT16t.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xS7AmbtCxDwv.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Alien isolation 5" style="width: 668px;"></p><p> To imagine what it would be like to have the alien hunting you, The Creative Assembly used the surroundings of their Horsham studio as a starting point. “At the very beginning, we thought about what it would be like to encounter and survive against that original alien. If we released one in the studio, what would we do? That was a really interesting exercise.”</p><p> There were no heroes. “No one said they were going to find a gun and shoot the thing dead, because that wasn’t part of the universe we were playing in. It wasn’t about using strength, but real-world instincts and experiences to help you survive. Some people said they would throw something to distract it, and we wanted to bring that instinctive desire to manipulate the world and change the odds into the game.”</p><blockquote> We thought about what it would be like to encounter and survive against that original alien. If we released one in the studio, what would we do? </blockquote><p> One thing that was notably missing from Isolation was the alien’s famous acid blood, which in the films can melt through metal like it’s polystyrene. “We had some cool ideas around it,” says Hope. “But it felt like we were starting to make an alien simulator, rather than something that would be a fun experience. Having holes appearing in the world starting steering the game in a weird direction, and so it seemed like it would be a better idea not to make a feature of it.”</p><p> But this creative licence aside, the game sticks remarkably close to the film&mdash;sometimes to the point that some story moments, to me, felt too obviously signposted. But even this, it seems, was intentional. “We wanted to tell a story that was really closely associated with that first film,” Hope tells me. “Amanda being Ellen Ripley’s daughter... the Nostromo’s flight recorder... and positioning the story to take place fifteen years later.”</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Tj3rx98fQUqa.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6IHo4gP9R0UM.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Alien isolation 6" style="width: 668px;"></p><p> One chapter, titled ‘Beacon’, sees you switching roles to play as Marlow, a scavenger who ends up on LV-426, tracking the same ‘distress call’ the Nostromo did. This gives you a chance to see the derelict up close, and is a real treat for Alien fans. “We thought that if you’re going to put an alien on a remote space station, you need to explain how it got there. Having Marlow and his crew visit the planet and rediscover the derelict did that, and just seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.”</p><p> Then, later, the game throws its biggest surprise at you: two aliens. I ask Hope why they decided to do this, after marketing the game so heavily as starring a single creature. “We wanted to turn the tables on you a little bit. If you’re starting to feel a bit more confident around the alien at that point, we make things doubly worse. I did wonder what the response was going to be.”</p><p> They always intended to introduce another alien, and built the AI around having two of them working in unison. “They’re gonna kill me for saying this, but it was as easy as just placing another alien in the level. But only because they did such a good job with this creature that it can look after itself.”</p><p> The reveal that there are multiple aliens on Sevastopol made me wonder if all the encounters preceding it were with different creatures, rather than&mdash;as you’re led to believe&mdash;just one. I ask Hope, but he seems reticent to answer. “I’m happy for players to interpret that for themselves. No one on Sevastopol knows all the answers. Amanda doesn’t, and neither does the player.”</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rBr1gCliTHuM.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RuhmFeflf_NR.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Alien isolation 7" style="width: 668px;"></p><p>And neither do the developers, at times. “The thing I really didn’t expect was the fact that, as a team, we’d all still be getting caught out by the alien. Even towards the end of development we’d still die and jump and yell and be surprised by it. Even now I can play it and my heart will be thumping away.”</p><p>As if delving into that amazing archive wasn’t enough, Alien: Isolation also gave The Creative Assembly the chance to work with, and even write new dialogue for, the original film cast. This started with their reconstruction of the Nostromo. “When you start a project like this you have all kinds of crazy ideas,” Hope tells me. “Because the first stage of development was deconstruction of the film, our creative team was tearing the Nostromo apart to find out what makes it feel like the Nostromo. This was so we could build new environments that were true to that style.</p><blockquote>It was really exciting that they said yes. Sigourney Weaver would be playing Ellen Ripley for the first time in a videogame.</blockquote><p>“We ended up thinking, man, I’d love to walk around the Nostromo. Then you wonder what it would be like to face the original alien in there. Then you wonder if you can get the original cast together to reprise their roles and play out some of those scenarios again.”</p><p>Which, incredibly, they did. “We told them the game was about survival, not killing. They saw the care and attention we put into the atmosphere. It was really exciting that they said yes. Sigourney Weaver would be playing Ellen Ripley for the first time in a videogame. That was something really special.”</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/UR7dy9DoS3qM.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/R4RlAP64WrTg.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Alien isolation 8" style="width: 668px;"></p><p>Hope says the actors had ideas about the script and their characters&mdash;especially Weaver. Ripley has been a crucial part of her career, and she doesn’t treat the character lightly. “We really got a sense of that. She did a lot of work reprising her role.”</p><p>Playing the game, I couldn’t help but think about the scene in the director’s cut of Aliens where Weyland-Yutani stooge Carter Burke tells Ellen that Amanda died of cancer at age 66. I ask Hope if this was ever in their mind as they made the game. “If there’s one thing we know about Burke, it’s that he’s an extremely untrustworthy character. The one thing he needs to do is get Ripley to go back to LV-426, and there’s a chance he’s going to tell her whatever he thinks he needs to say.”</p><p>Isolation is an incredibly brave game. It goes against everything that defines a mainstream, big budget release, relying on steady pacing and systems rather than instant gratification and broad appeal. “It did feel like a risk,” says Hope. “But when we first pitched it the response was really positive. It seemed to be in line with what we wanted from an Alien game. Something different. Four years later, having finally released the game, it’s great to see there’s a large audience out there that’s open to something like this. Who knows what we’ll do next?”</p> Final Fantasy XIV offering free weekend for lapsed playershttp://www.pcgamer.com/final-fantasy-xiv-offering-free-weekend-for-lapsed-players/Return toEorzea for a few days for free.Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:40:43 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/final-fantasy-xiv-offering-free-weekend-for-lapsed-players/Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm RebornMMONewsSquare Enix <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ki6i4HWTT2uP.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ZnGaMuijJG2c.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Final Fantasy XIV 3"></p><p>Maybe you stopped playing Final Fantasy XIV before a <em>goddamn</em> dragon emerged from a <em>goddamn</em> moon. Maybe you stopped playing because a monthly subscription is like a nagging itch of guilt gnawing away at your soul. Maybe you've just&nbsp;never played it, in which case this news&nbsp;unfortunately doesn't apply.</p><p>If you are a lapsed player with an inactive account,&nbsp;you can head back into the game&nbsp;for free this weekend. Final Fantasy XIV is opening its doors to all of the game's owners, with a subscription-free access period that will last from 30 January at 8am GMT to 2 February at 8am GMT.</p><p>The point, naturally, is to give players a chance to peruse the new goodies added as part of the recent 2.5 update. You can see an overview of the new stuff via the trailer below, and check out more details on Squenix's offer&nbsp;<a href="http://na.finalfantasyxiv.com/lodestone/topics/detail/6e3b0e4f864f77d0b10ab6b39369f9043a691c62" target="_blank">through this link</a>.</p> Nuclear Throne review (Early Access)http://www.pcgamer.com/nuclear-throne-review-early-access/Vlambeer's shooter offers bitesize portions of awesomemayhem.Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:23:36 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/nuclear-throne-review-early-access/ActionNuclear ThroneReviews <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HwW-LfioRsCQ.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/CHDHdhPihL_b.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Nuclear Throne 1"></p><p> <em><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/tag/early-access-review/">Alpha and Early Access reviews </a>offer our preliminary verdicts on in-development games. We may follow up this unscored review with a final, scored review in the future. Read our <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/06/26/pc-gamer-reviews-policy/">full review policy </a>for details.</em></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">NEED TO KNOW</h5> <p> <strong>What is it</strong> A hectic hybrid of twin-stick shooter and roguelike<br> <strong>Influenced by</strong> Spelunky, Super Crate Box, Borderlands<br> <strong>Alternatively</strong> The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Luftrausers<br> <strong>DRM</strong> Steam<br> <strong>Price</strong> £9.99/$12.99<br> <strong>Release</strong> Out Now (full release TBC)<br> <strong>Publisher/developer</strong> Vlambeer<br> <strong>Website</strong> <a href="http://nuclearthrone.com">Nuclear Throne site</a><br> <strong>Multiplayer</strong> 4-player co-op<br> </p> </div><p> Vlambeer has been tinkering with Nuclear Throne for over a year now, but you wouldn’t think so to play it. Early Access games tend to start off shonky and get gradually more refined over time. This, however, remains thrillingly rough-hewn; it’s an anarchic thrash of a roguelike where everything goes boom or splat&mdash;or, more frequently, boom <em>and</em> splat.</p><p> Formerly known as Wasteland Kings, the title now seems to vaguely allude to a horrific toilet incident. Maybe that’s because it reminds me of Edmund McMillen’s scatalogically-obsessed The Binding of Isaac, but then it often sounds like one, too, in the wet splats as a bullet connects with a squidgy opponent and the thick, mucosal squelch of a larger enemy bursting into a cascade of bright green pickups that you’ll gleefully hoover up for XP. The action’s too chaotic and the art’s too basic for it to be really repulsive, but it’s all so wonderfully <em>scrungy</em>; it will make you go ‘eww’ with the same kind of horrified glee as when you first dissected a frog in science class.</p><p> In truth, its brand of mayhem is difficult to get a bead on at first, not least given the fact that the screen-shake effect is so pronounced it’s like you’re battling on shifting tectonic plates, or triggering an unseen avalanche. The juddering that starts as soon as you pull the trigger is such that you’ll begin to fear for the safety of your monitor, as if the action is going to spill loose from the screen, or cause a tremor that tips it over and breaks it. It can be turned down, but why would you want to? Once you’ve acclimatized – it helps if you’ve played a Vlambeer game before - it’s such a thrillingly kinetic sensation, and so empowering when you get your hands on something big and explosive, it’s all you can do not to loose off all your rounds immediately.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QIRnjAKbQ6iK.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9rTvU8Cy36LD.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Nuclear throne 2"></p><p> That would be a very bad idea, mind you, though it might take you a couple of goes to realize that. At first, you’ll do well to last much more than a minute or two before dying, even given that you’re eased into the action with a comparatively gentle couple of opening stages. You’ll start playing it like a traditional twin-stick shooter, sprinting everywhere and shooting wildly at everything that moves. But the first time you run out of ammo with five mutants left and no crates to break open, the penny will drop. Nuclear Throne takes an unexpected cue from survival games in the sense that resources are scarcer than you might expect, and so you’ll need to be more careful and precise. It is, believe it or not, something of a cover shooter in disguise&mdash;or at least it shares some of the same rhythms: you’ll find yourself hiding behind little bits of scenery before nipping out to fire off a round, and ducking back into an alcove to avoid the volley of projectiles heading back your way. To paraphrase Kipling, it’s about keeping your head while all about you are losing theirs, though presumably he wasn’t thinking about sentient fish firing laser-guided crossbow bolts at machine-gun-toting crows at the time.</p><p> Indeed, while Paul Veer’s sprite art looks rudimentary in stills, his designs are also enormously characterful, particularly the game’s playable cast of misfits and oddballs. I imagined Fish to be Perry The Platypus’s crazy uncle who just came out of prison, while the muscular Steroids resembles nothing so much as a malignant tumour. Each has their own perk and an additional skill bound to the right mouse button: Crystal is a chunk of purple ore with higher HP who can create a temporary shield to deflect incoming bullets, while Plant (a Pokémon gone feral) can move faster and snare more mobile enemies in a vine trap.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/F8TWGthvRvK3.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/GT1zkfjNyOZO.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Nuclear throne 3"></p><p> Then there are the mutations you can apply when leveling up, from refills to ammo and health to more permanent augments, like the ability to damage enemies who collide with you, or to run through walls. They all give you a greater chance of surviving just a little longer, but they also encourage you to adjust your tactics accordingly. Likewise the weapons: melee attacks are satisfying but risky, but when you can extend the range of your swipes, a shovel can be as devastating as a grenade launcher - and you’re less likely to die from an unexpected rebound.</p><p> Procedural generation means the stages throw up different challenges every time: you’ll relish finding a generous weapons cache until they all stack in the same place and you struggle to pick up the one you want, and there are hidden stages and I’m sure I managed to warp to a later level at one point, but I haven’t done so since. It’s unpredictable in the best way, and yet over time you’ll grow accustomed to every character’s foibles, and the weapons best suited to your personal play style - and how to improvise when you <em>don’t</em> get what you need.</p><p> Whenever new features are added, they’re labelled as ‘work in progress’, as a warning that they might not be perfectly functional. Yet <em>everything </em>here feels like a work in progress. I don’t mean that as an insult: that raw energy is what makes Throne so exciting. At this stage, I wonder whether an official release is necessary&mdash;perhaps Vlambeer can just keep updating it forever, adding new verses to a permanently unfinished symphony of bangs, buckshot and bleurgh.</p><h3>Verdict</h3><p> A roguelike on fast-forward, offering procedurally generated chaos at a blistering pace&mdash;and Vlambeer’s constant updates are keeping it daisy-fresh.</p> Steam Workshop creators have made over $57 million since 2011http://www.pcgamer.com/steam-workshop-creators-have-made-over-57-million-since-2011/New curated shops launched for Dungeon Defenders: Eternity and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare.Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:49:31 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/steam-workshop-creators-have-made-over-57-million-since-2011/Chivalry: Medieval WarfareDungeon DefendersNewsSteam WorkshopTeam Fortress 2 <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TSL-Ru7qRrW8.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/wawDPlf4kdPy.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Workshop"></p><p>The Steam Workshop is a giant thing, containing over 24,000 Skyrim mods, over 413,000 Portal 2 levels and, for some reason, over 100 Goat Simulator characters and mutators. It's also a profitable thing. Team Fortress 2, Dota 2 and&nbsp;Counter-Strike: Global Offensive all have curated Workshops&mdash;letting players pick the community-made&nbsp;items that will go on sale in the game.</p><p>Valve has&nbsp;<a href="http://store.steampowered.com/news/15614/" target="_blank">now announced</a>&nbsp;that, since the launch of the Workshop in 2011,&nbsp;the total payments to individuals for the creation of in-game items has surpassed&nbsp;$57 million.</p><p>Previously, only Valve games had curated item Workshops&mdash;something&nbsp;Valve attributes to the "sheer number of challenges required in order to scale to a global audience of creators and players". Seemingly, these hurdles have been overcome, as the Workshop is now hosting curated item Workshops for&nbsp;<a href="http://steamcommunity.com/app/219640/workshop/" target="_blank">Chivalry: Medieval Warfare</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://steamcommunity.com/app/302270/workshop/" target="_blank">Dungeon Defenders: Eternity</a>.</p><p>"Purchases of this great new content directly enables those community members to continue practicing their craft and making more awesome content," writes Valve, before going on to say that they expect more curated Workshops in "the coming weeks and months".</p> Starbound releases first stable update in almost a yearhttp://www.pcgamer.com/starbound-releases-first-stable-update-in-almost-a-year/New update overhauls combat, adds new playable race, items and biomes.Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:55:02 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/starbound-releases-first-stable-update-in-almost-a-year/ChucklefishNewsStarboundSurvival <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WMCUJdmBShOa.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Rf_q3cCZ-HDH.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Alpaca2"> </p> <p> Starbound has a new stable update&mdash;the first since March, 2014. It rolls together the various changes from the last year of experimental branch updates&nbsp;to create a massive and wide-ranging overhaul. </p> <p> New to this "v. Upbeat Giraffe" is... well, lots. Combat has been overhauled, new weapon and armour systems implemented, a new playable race introduced, new world types added, survival has been tweaked, barren&nbsp;planets introduced for large-scale building, new ship upgrades and ship AI inserted, and... well, maybe you should just watch the&nbsp;highlights trailer that Chucklefish released&nbsp;last month. </p> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4Sz2zr3pZEo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe> <p> "Because of all these changes, we recommend that everyone start a new character," writes Chucklefish's 'mollygos'. "The game has changed so drastically that you’d miss out on most of the new content if you simply used an old character. As a result, the launcher will automatically rename your old data. We may be releasing external tools in the next few weeks to import and convert these files to approximately equivalent characters, but unless and until then they will be unusable." </p> <p> The update is out now, and you can see the full list of changes over <a href="http://playstarbound.com/hark-a-stable-update-v-upbeat-giraffe/">at the Starbound blog</a>. </p> The AOC G2460PG G-SYNC Monitor: Lethal Speed, Deadly Precisionhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-aoc-g2460pg-g-sync-monitor-lethal-speed-with-deadly-precision/The AOC G2460PG G-SYNC Monitor: Lethal Speed With Deadly PrecisionThu, 29 Jan 2015 10:38:44 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-aoc-g2460pg-g-sync-monitor-lethal-speed-with-deadly-precision/Sponsored <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ZB_M9oQoSvKv.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cwG3qgotwTLv.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="AOC monitor sponsored"> </p> <p> A high-quality monitor is a great long-term gaming investment, especially when screen-tear stutter and sluggish response times can take such a serious toll on your gaming experience. The AOC G2460PG G-Sync monitor has been purpose-built to eliminate those issues and optimise your gaming setup. That means super-fast response times and smoother motion thanks to Nvidia's G-Sync technology, as well as excellent response times for seamless, lethally-quick gaming. </p> <p> The G2460PG supports 1920x1080 resolution and renders at 144Hz refresh rate, which means silky-smooth movement. In addition, the 1ms GtG response time eliminates smear and ensures maximum responsiveness&mdash;the delay from mouse-twitch to on-screen headshot it imperceptible. </p> <p> Nvidia's pioneering G-Sync system is the perfect complement if you're using Nvidia GPUs at GTX650 Ti level or higher. This new technology syncs your monitor's output to your graphics card's speed, ensuring that images reach your screen instantly, and not a single frame is lost in the process&mdash;say goodbye to hideous screen-tear! In combination, all of G2460PG's features come together to deliver gaming performance at revolutionary speed and fidelity. </p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/IKLhadc9RoOu.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rcaKekXUvzwX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="g2460Pg front codaw design"> </p> <p> The G2460PG has been carefully designed by a team of European specialists to fully realise the power of your gaming rig, but it looks great on the desktop as well. You can game from multiple angles thanks to the 130mm Ergonomic stand that allows for full vertical orientation and easy swivel adjustment, and the brushed metal bezels present a stylish finish. The built-in USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 hub makes the AOC G2460PG a practical choice, too. There you'll find the port for the required DisplayPort connection. </p> <p> AOC are so confident in the robust quality of the G2460PG that it comes with a three-year warranty. Within the warranty, any manufacturing defects or faulty components will be repaired or replaced free of charge. That makes the G2460PG a great long-term choice. With this super-quick monitor on your desk, all you'll have to worry about is executing the perfect play in your next round of Counter-Strike. Once you've experienced the speed and smooth performance of a 1ms, G-sync enabled display it'll be impossible to go back. </p> <p> The AOC G-SYNC G2460PG is available now at <a href="http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/clk?id=113603543&amp;iu=/8644/Textlink">Overclockers</a>. </p> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/a9z9LpLqMuQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe> The beginner's guide to Twitch streaminghttp://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-stream-on-twitch/We explain how to set up a Twitch stream, and some of the Dos and Don'ts to agood livestream.Thu, 29 Jan 2015 00:47:55 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-stream-on-twitch/StreamingTwitch InXile says Torment: Tides of Numenera won't be slowed by new Bard's Tale projecthttp://www.pcgamer.com/inxile-says-torment-tides-of-numenera-wont-be-slowed-by-new-bards-tale-project/The Bard's Tale IV was announced last week.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 23:43:24 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/inxile-says-torment-tides-of-numenera-wont-be-slowed-by-new-bards-tale-project/inXile EntertainmentNewsRPGThe Bard's Tale IVTorment: Tides of Numenera <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3yLexN0sQqO-.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/etxF25PvFoWM.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Torment: Tides of Numenera"></p><p>For a small indie studio that couldn't land a proper publishing deal, inXile Entertainment sure is busy these days. <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/wasteland-2-review/">Wasteland 2</a> has been out for a few months now, but it's hip-deep in the development of the ambitious RPG <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/torment-tides-of-numenera/">Torment: Tides of Numenera</a>, and just this past weekend it announced that The Bard's Tale IV is <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-bards-tale-iv-announced/">on the way as&nbsp;well</a>. But the studio says that embarking on anothrer new project won't have any impact on what it's already doing.</p><p>"As you may remember from Torment's funding, inXile operates on a 1.5 team system, where one team is fully dedicated to our main ongoing project (Torment) and a smaller team is working both on continued support of existing titles (Wasteland 2) and prepping the very early pre-production of our next title," inXile wrote in today's Torment: Tides of Numenera <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/torment-tides-of-numenera/posts/1119445">Kickstarter update</a>.</p><p>"Just as Torment's preproduction had no impact on Wasteland 2, this project has no influence on Torment's production because different people are involved," it continued. "The Bard's Tale IV is in its very early stages, with some technical research being performed along with early design work on things like the storyline, combat system, dungeon design, etc."</p><p>The studio won't be revealing any details about the new Bard's Tale game "for a long time yet," but invited fans to share their thoughts and opinions about the game on its <a href="https://forums.inxile-entertainment.com/viewforum.php?f=41">forums</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/TheBardsTale">Facebook page</a>. </p> Nvidia working on driver update to address GTX 970 issueshttp://www.pcgamer.com/nvidia-working-on-driver-update-to-address-gtx-970-issues/A driver update may help improve performance for the GTX 970 when using all 4GB of VRAM.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 22:49:32 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/nvidia-working-on-driver-update-to-address-gtx-970-issues/HardwareNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/T2GOLk8mQAu5.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YkEz1OMVVoYi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="GTX 970"></p><p>According to an Nvidia employee on the company's forums, the graphics card manufacturer is&nbsp;<a href="https://forums.geforce.com/default/topic/803518/geforce-900-series/gtx-970-3-5gb-vram-issue/post/4438090/#4438090">working on a driver update</a> to address the GTX 970's performance issues when utilizing more than&nbsp;3.5GB VRAM.</p><p>In the last few weeks, commenters across the Internet uncovered that the GTX 970&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/why-nvidias-gtx-970-slows-down-using-more-than-35gb-vram/">only seems to use 3.5GB of its 4GB VRAM</a> and encounters a serious drop in performance when pushed to (what should be)&nbsp;its limit, using all 4GB. Nvidia responded with a statement explaining how the GTX 970 uses a different configuration than the 980 and allocates its memory into a 3.5GB and a 0.5GB segment. The GPU has higher priority access to the 3.5GB section, but dipping into that secondary section can have a real impact on gaming performance.</p><p>Nvidia employee PeterS commented on the issue on the Nvidia forums yesterday, noting that a driver update is in the works that will "tune what's allocated where in memory to further improve performance."</p><p>The driver update will hopefully help, but while it might optimize performance, the architecture of the 970 can't be changed through software. The card won't be able to access that last 500MB of VRAM at the same speed as the GTX 980.</p><p>Regardless of the driver update, PeterS posted that "If you don't want the card anymore you should return it and get a refund or exchange. If you have any problems getting that done, let me know and I'll do my best to help."&nbsp;Keep in mind, though, that the GTX 970 is still an all-around great performer and overclocker. The impressive benchmarks of our&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/gigabyte-geforce-gtx-970-g1-gaming-review/">original review</a>&nbsp;haven't changed. Currently, few games require the full 4GB VRAM. But the card's limitation may make it less future-proof for games down the road.</p><p>If you're just catching up on the issue,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/why-nvidias-gtx-970-slows-down-using-more-than-35gb-vram/">check out our breakdown here</a>.</p> Mortal Kombat X's Reptile crushes skulls in new trailer http://www.pcgamer.com/mortal-kombat-xs-reptile-crushes-skulls-in-new-trailer/Don't mess withtwo-legged humanoid raptors, apparently.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 22:46:52 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/mortal-kombat-xs-reptile-crushes-skulls-in-new-trailer/ActionMortal Kombat XNetherRealm StudiosNews <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5Rw5ZfplBZ4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>What's the best way to ensure your opponent stops pestering you once you've given&nbsp;them a good drubbing? A good old fashioned skull crush, of course! That's Reptile's strategy, and judging by the above&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/mortal-kombat-x/">Mortal Kombat X</a> video dedicated to the "two-legged humanoid raptor", it works wonders. He also spits acid, which is handy.</p><p>The video is the latest in a steady stream of character showcases. We saw&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/mortal-kombat-x/">Kitana and Kung Lao</a> having a tiff last week, as well as&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/mortal-kombat-x-adds-quan-chi-to-the-lineup/">Quan Chi</a> and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/mortal-kombat-x-brings-back-older-wiser-nastier-kano/">Kano</a>, among others. The game releases April 14.</p> Offworld Trading Company gameplay shown in debut trailerhttp://www.pcgamer.com/offworld-trading-company-gameplay-shown-in-debut-trailer/Offworld Trading Company is launching on Steam Early Access in February.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 21:26:26 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/offworld-trading-company-gameplay-shown-in-debut-trailer/Mohawk GamesNewsOffworld Trading CompanyRTSStardock <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Xsayg87_Y2s?vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> Offworld Trading Company was <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/offworld-trading-company-is-an-economic-rts-from-the-designer-of-civ-4/">announced last May</a> as an "economic RTS" being developed by Mohawk Games, the indie studio founded by Civilization 4 Lead Designer Soren Johnson. We haven't heard much about it since, but today publisher Stardock Games unveiled a trailer featuring the first look at gameplay and a few words from Johnson about what's in store.</p><p> The game takes place on Mars, "the final frontier on which dreamers and entrepreneurs can make something of themselves" by staking out and developing claims to the planet's abundant and untapped resources. Players must buy and sell materials, resources, and even food and water on a real-time, player-driven market, but there's more to it than simply buying low and selling high: Dirty tricks and underhanded market manipulation have their place too. Hey, it's a tough world.</p><p> The developers have been playing the game for quite awhile now, but Johnson said the studio is looking forward to getting more players involved in the process through the upcoming Early Access release. The Early Access version of Offworld Trading Company will offer head-to-head and free-for-all online multiplayer matches, a single-player campaign, and a skirmish mode against the AI.</p><p> "We don't want to develop this game in a vacuum. In fact, we believe that players understand games often much better than their designers do," he says in the video. "We've been playing Offworld for a long time, we've been having a lot of fun with it, but we feel like there's no way we'll be able to bring it to the next level until we're able to see what happens once players out in the wild start playing it."</p><p> The Early Access release of Offworld Trading Company will hit Steam on February 12, but can be pre-purchased now at a ten percent discount at <a href="http://offworldgame.com/store">offworldgame.com</a>.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/OPPCq08NQ9i9.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-YE7g9ddlrVI.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Offworld Trading Company"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/icUT1mvuTfex.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qkVsoYsXhBfn.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Offworld Trading Company"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/igBUMaZXTEW5.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/B_5eytwL8ZfQ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Offworld Trading Company"></p> CD Projekt explains why The Witcher 3 has 16 hours of sex scene mo-cap datahttp://www.pcgamer.com/cd-projekt-explains-why-the-witcher-3-has-16-hours-of-sex-scene-mo-cap-data/There's actually a point to all that romping around.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 20:40:13 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/cd-projekt-explains-why-the-witcher-3-has-16-hours-of-sex-scene-mo-cap-data/CD ProjektNewsRPGThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hnDPkCi2SdKa.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9pun8UfE90O4.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Triss "></p><p>Sex has always been a relatively prominent part of The Witcher videogames. The original release actually included a series of saucy in-game collectible cards that provided a record of Geralt's many and varied conquests during his world-saving adventures. And, unsurprisingly, he'll keep on keeping on in <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt/">The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt</a>, which according to <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jan/28/sex-witcher-3-grand-theft-auto-of-fantasy-games">The Guardian</a> contains 16 hours (!) of sex scene motion capture data&mdash;albeit&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/NKuillAndInk/status/560438277392834560" target="_blank">not 16 hours of in-game sex</a>.</p><p>That sounds like an awful lot of sex scene motion capture data, and the game apparently even opens with the tail-end, so to speak, of a libidinous encounter between Geralt and Yennefer. But that moment, and all the others, are there for a reason that goes beyond mere titillation.</p><p>"We are establishing that your character was intimate with this woman recently in order to plant in your mind, that, at the very least, he must enjoy her company," Senior Game Designer Damien Monhier said. "Through sex we have shown that this is a person who Geralt would be compelled to chase after if she went missing."</p><p>Sex is the quickest way to establish a meaningful relationship between characters, Monhier explained, and to justify Geralt's pursuit of Yennefer. "We couldn't just tell you to go find someone you don't know or care about," he said. "It wouldn't work."</p><p>The infamous digital sex cards in The Witcher may have been a little tacky, but as The Guardian notes, the presence of sex as an unremarkable element of life in The Witcher's fantasy setting actually lends it a layer of believability lacking in other games: The characters come off as real people, behaving as they would in a world that's nasty, brutish, and with few avenues of escape from its overbearing unpleasantness. In a character-driven game series like The Witcher, that's important.</p><p>The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt comes out on May 19.</p> EVGA expands TORQ mouse line with four new modelshttp://www.pcgamer.com/evga-expands-torq-mouse-line-with-four-new-models/EVGA has fournew mice on the way for different hand sizes: the X3, X3L,X5, and X5L.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 20:12:40 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/evga-expands-torq-mouse-line-with-four-new-models/gaming miceHardwareNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zKIRHnyaRrmP.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QfCRcNDyzWow.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Evga X5 Mouse"></p><p>EVGA recently announced&nbsp;<a href="http://www.evga.com/mice/TORQ-X5-X3/">four new models</a> in its TORQ line of gaming mice: the X3, X3L, X5, and X5L, priced at $39.99, $39.99, $49.99, and $59.99, respectively.</p><p>All four models are ambidextrous, have eight buttons, and support five different button profiles. The X3 and X5 are optical, with Pixart sensors, while the X3L and X5L feature the Avago 9500 and Avago 9800 laser sensors, respectively. </p><p>The primary difference between these four mice and the rest of the TORQ line (the X10 and X10 Carbon) is that the newcomers don't allow for adjustable weight and height. The X3 and X3L are both rated for 10 million clicks, while the X5 and X5L double that number. </p><p>The X3 has 4000 max DPI, the X3L has 5000, the X5 has 6400, and the X5L towers over the rest with 8200 max DPI. (The X10 and X10 Carbon are both also laser mice rated at 8200 DPI.) The X3 features a red LED light, while the other three have a full RGB LED.</p><p>One catch: the X3L is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.evga.com/mice/TORQ-X3-Laser/">exclusive to Best Buy</a>, for some reason. It is, at least, a nice shade of blue.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kGR6eSF2QB2W.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/d7PH5RdbiU_v.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Evga Mice"></p> The best wireless gaming headsetshttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/The best wireless gaming headsets you can buy at budget, mid-range, and high-end prices.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:51:28 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/HardwareHeadsetsSteelseriesTech <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qhtxdJkQRm28.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3eYnM5G-A6Ds.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steelseries H Wireless Hero" style="background-color: initial;"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">More Buying Guides</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ncDtvXUIS3q8.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0YpI7Tp79X39.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Graphics Card Cropped"> </p> <p> <strong> Here are our&nbsp;lists of the best PC accessories and hardware:&nbsp;</strong>&nbsp; </p> <p> <strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-gaming-mouse" target="_blank">Best gaming <strong>mice</strong></a> <br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-gaming-keyboards" target="_blank">Best gaming <strong>keyboards</strong></a> <br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-gaming-laptops-1/" target="_blank">Best gaming<strong> laptops</strong></a> <br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-graphics-cards" target="_blank">Best <strong>graphics cards</strong></a> <br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-gaming-headsets/" target="_blank">Best gaming </a><strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-gaming-headsets/" target="_blank">headsets</a></strong> <br> <strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-webcams" target="_blank">Best </a><strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-webcams" target="_blank">webcams</a></strong> <br> <strong>&mdash; </strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-gaming-monitors/">Best </a><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-gaming-monitors/">gaming<strong> monitors</strong><br> <strong></strong></a><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-pc-gaming-cpus-processors/" target="_blank">Best gaming <strong>processors</strong></a><br> <strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong></strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-controller-for-pc-gaming/" target="_blank">Best&nbsp;<strong>controller for PC</strong></a> </p> <p> <strong>&mdash; </strong>New to PC Gaming? Here are <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/10-things-every-pc-gamer-should-own/">10 things every PC gamer should own</a>. </p> </div><p> <em>Article by Phil Iwaniuk</em></p><p> Fact: wired headsets hugely outnumber their wireless brethren in the PC peripherals marketplace. Why? Why hasn’t the technology that unshackles us from our machine rendered wired models obsolete? Well, historically, cable-free cans have had a number of drawbacks, some of which remain today.</p><p> One: battery charge time. Ever had a wireless headset run out of charge on you mid-game, bleating its pathetic warning tone at the exact frequency that makes you want to chew through your tongue? Then you can see why some might be put off by the idea of having to manage their charge level, and even cut sessions short if their cans drain completely.</p><p> Two: latency. Particularly in cheaper wireless audio gear, latency can fluctuate and lead to a distracting slow down, speed up auditory jerkiness in whatever you’re listening to as your hardware tries to keep pace. Distracting, and annoying.</p><p> And three: price. There’s always been a considerable premium thrown on the price tag of any wireless headset, because that receiver and rechargeable battery aren’t cheap to produce. The silver lining? Manufacturers know those first two problems are deal-breakers, and have invested a lot of resources into minimising them. So today, you mostly just have to worry about price. That hasn’t changed, because all that resource investment is expensive.</p><p> If you are prepared to pay a slight premium, some incredible, zero-hassle gaming audio equipment awaits. And we think the best of the whole bunch is the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G6IJ5NI/?tag=pcgedit-20">SteelSeries H Wireless</a>. With a retail price set at $299 (though it is available for more like $260 if you shop around), it’s certainly a serious investment. But for the money you get not only the comfort level, surround sound and audio fidelity of the very best wired headsets, but a bunch of cool extras unique to itself. Two swappable lithium ion batteries? Check. Impossibly stylish transmission unit? Double check.</p><p> Of course, you might not be inclined to part with quite so much money just for the pleasure of cable-free listening pleasure. That’s fine&mdash;we’ve got you. Looking right the way down the price list, we’ve made our picks at the $150 and under $100 mark too, to help you make the right decision however much money you want to throw at this.</p><h3>Testing wireless headsets</h3><p> Many of the qualities you’re looking for from a wireless headset are the same you’d hope to find in any audio equipment&mdash;tone, build quality, and reliability leading the charge. As such we listen to each review model while playing different genres of game, listening to music, and watching movies with bombastic sound effects and surround mixes&mdash;think less Werner Herzog, more Chris Nolan. We also run a simple sine wave ‘swoop’ across the stated frequency response range (almost always the full 20Hz-20KHz these days), and in the case of surround headsets we’ll listen to positional audio tests from Dolby, like its&nbsp;<a href="http://listen.dts.com/pages/headphone-x">DTS Headphone-X test</a>.&nbsp;There’s also our old favorite,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUDTlvagjJA">the Virtual Barber Shop</a>.&nbsp;YouTube’s compression does limit the overall sound quality, but it’s still a great way of separating the wheat from the chaff in surround sound earphones.</p><p> There are a few wireless-specific elements we need to test for, too: battery life, charge time, range and latency. The former is pretty self-explanatory, though in addition to an ‘everyday use’ battery life test we also run the headset at full volume to discover how quickly the charge drains under those conditions. To ascertain charge time, we&hellip; well, we charge the headsets and note how long it takes.</p><p> Range and latency are trickier to test in a scientific manner. However, having a good old walk around the house gives a good indication of range, and latency ultimately comes down to perception. With all that taken into account after several days of use, we’re in a good place to make the call on a headset.</p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-2">On the next page: the best wireless gaming headset.</a></p><hr><p> Page 1:&nbsp;Introduction to the best wireless gaming headsets<br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-2">Page 2: The best wireless gaming headset</a><br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-3">Page 3: The best mid-budget wireless gaming headset</a><br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-4">Page 4: The best budget wireless gaming headset</a><br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-5">Page 5: Wrapping up: competitors and future</a></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/MYwM6eQ4R_Ww.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kcOkwJuMMAlV.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steelseries H Wireless White"></p><h2>The best wireless gaming headset: SteelSeries H Wireless</h2> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Specs</h5> <p> Price: $299&nbsp;(£220) <br> <strong>Headphone</strong><br> Frequency Response: 20Hz&mdash;20KHz<br> Weight: 297g (without battery)<br> Max Volume: 100dB* SPL @ 1kHz<br> Ports: Wired Mode / Share Port, Chat port, mini USB FW update port </p> <p> <strong>Transmitter</strong><br> Wireless Range: 12m (40ft) straight line<br> Latency: &lt;16ms, fixed<br> Ports: Analog In, Analog Out, mini USB, Optical In, Optical Out, Power<br> Battery Type: Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 1000mAh<br> Battery Life: 20 hours per pack, typical usage </p> <p> <strong>Microphone</strong><br> Frequency Response: 100Hz&mdash;10KHz<br> Mic Pattern: Unidirectional<br> Indication: Red LED on mute </p> </div><p> Well, here it is: our pick for the absolute best wireless gaming headset available, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G6IJ5NI/?tag=pcgedit-20">Steelseries H Wireless</a>. And hoo boy, it isn’t a cheap one, weighing in just below $300. We know that's a lot of cash, but there are two major considerations at play here. First is that wireless headsets tend to be pricier than their wired counterparts in the first place, so if you’re browsing this side of the market you’ve probably set aside a reasonable chunk of money in the first place. Secondly, scrimping on wireless tech is like seeking out bargain bin dentistry&mdash;a lot more can go wrong than right. The $300 in question buys not just incredible sound, comfort and convenience, but a free pass through any potential latency and battery issues. </p><p> SteelSeries strikes gold with its H Wireless by combining top-end virtual surround sound, fantastic frequency response, and comfort with a ton of extra functionality and versatility. Despite the serious financial investment, it’s a genuine one-stop shop for PC, Mac, consoles and mobile devices. </p><p> Added bonus: its manufacturer also restrained itself from overdesigning&nbsp;the headset like a Pimp My Ride producer’s fever dream, naming it after a Roman or Greek god, or having an e-sports gamer sheepishly endorsing it on the packaging. </p><p> The basics: the H wireless is a closed-cup, circumaural headset, which mean it totally covers your ears and seals the sound around you, using memory foam padding in this case. That’s crucial; so many manufacturers bleat about the size of their drivers, but unless the low-end frequencies those drivers generate find an enclosed space in which to resonate, that ‘thumping’ bass effect is lost. Suffice to say, these earcups have plenty of ‘thump.’ </p><p> There’s also plenty of power and clarity in the mid range and precise highs. If you go in with a sound snob mindset, you will hear that the overall mix doesn’t sound as organic as high-end stereo headphones aimed at the music market, because the audio’s running through a 7.1 virtual surround sound engine. The loss in overall tonality is unnoticeable to all but those who find themselves damned to live out life on this earth as the store employees from High Fidelity, though, and those people are too busy taping Japanese import albums by the Liqorice Comfits to care. </p><p> The surround itself is excellent, in both games and movies. It’ll genuinely have you hunting down Blu-Rays with 7.1 mixes just to enjoy the flyover effects, panned ambient noises and sound cues from high above. Unlike many top-end surround cans like Creative’s Sound Blaster Recon 3D Omega, the H Wireless doesn’t come with a ‘footstep’ or ‘sniper’ mode that dulls all but the sound sources in your vicinity, but honestly we don’t feel the loss. Maybe we’re just not good enough at shooters to exploit that feature, but we find a good surround mix like this is ample assistance in locating our would-be killers by footsteps or gunshots alone. </p><p> This isn’t a particularly light headset, weighing well over 300g (more than half a pound) with one of its two rechargeable batteries fitted (more on those later). However, memory foam pads at every contact point&mdash;around both earcups and the headband&mdash;make it an exceptionally comfortable one over a long duration. There’s enough pivot and extension in the frame to accommodate any head shape and very little sound produced when doing so, which is a good indicator of build quality. The orange stitching around each cup does fray easily though, messing up an otherwise impeccable and understated aesthetic. </p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7CTqQJyNTxG9.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6p3yemwnJ7u4.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steelseries H Wireless Black"> </p><p> As with all SteelSeries models, the mic here is retractable, so you can push it back inside the left cup and out of the way when it isn’t needed, and a quick tap of the power on button on the bottom of the right cup mutes it. There’s also a volume wheel at the top of the right cup, and a rubber cover on the bottom next to the power button which conceals an aux cable connection so you can connect up your Xbox One or PS4 controller and chat if you want to use this with a console, and another connection allowing you to connect a second headset. Two-person silent gaming sessions and really low-key silent discos are go. </p><p> As odd as it sounds, it’s actually the transmitter that elevates the H Wireless above its peers. Firstly, it doubles as a battery charger. While one of its lithium ion batteries is powering the headset, another occupies a charge slot within the transmitter so you genuinely never have to stop using it, or even connect it to a charge cable. Considering what a hassle that can be, that dual battery design gives it a massive advantage over its peers. Astro’s A50 and Turtle Beach’s i60 both offer similar luxury to the H Wireless in sound and comfort, but simply can’t compete with the way it elegantly sidesteps the charging problem. </p><p> Its batteries cling to life for up to 20 hours, too. That’s the stated figure in SteelSeries’ own documentation, and it holds true in the real world too. Even extended max volume sessions have little effect on it. Speaking of the spec sheet, the proposed signal range is an enormous 12 meters (40 feet). In reality, that means the signal remains clean literally anywhere in this tester’s apartment. </p><p> There’s a plethora of connection options at the back of the transmitter (optical in/out in addition to USB) which means it’s fair game for just about any device you can throw at it, and includes a handy voice chat/game audio mixing feature called ChatMix. With this you can either manually adjust both levels, or let the transmitter boost the voice audio only when someone’s talking&mdash;essentially it’s working like a sidechain compressor, pushing the game audio down when someone talks and pushing it up again afterward. </p><p> There simply isn’t another wireless headset on the market that does everything&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G6IJ5NI/?tag=pcgedit-20">SteelSeries’ H Wireless</a> can do&mdash;and with some considerable style, too. It’s certainly not cheap, but the variety of applications it can handle mitigates that to an extent. Above all, it lets you forget about all the drawbacks traditionally associated with going wireless. A class act. </p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-3">On the next page: the next mid-budget wireless gaming headset.</a></p><hr><p> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/">Page 1:&nbsp;Introduction to the best wireless gaming headsets</a><br> Page 2: The best wireless gaming headset<br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-3">Page 3: The best mid-budget wireless gaming headset</a><br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-4">Page 4: The best budget wireless gaming headset</a><br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-5">Page 5: Wrapping up: competitors and future</a></p><h2><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gHduYg4KQhqz.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Dz5mqBFmMXGc.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Turtle Beach Z300 2" style="font-size: 14px; color: rgb(154, 154, 154); background-color: initial;"></h2><h2>The best mid-budget wireless gaming headset: Turtle Beach Ear Force Z300</h2> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">SPECS</h5> <p> Price: $160 (£127)<br> Drivers: 50mm<br> Noise Cancelling: No<br> Microphone: Yes, detachable<br> Inline Volume: Yes<br> Battery life: 15 hours<br> Design: circumaural </p> </div><p> Turtle Beach has the console headset market pretty well sewn up, but its position in PC audio is of a relative outlier, particularly compared to familiar, reliable names such as Creative, Logitech&hellip; you know, the companies who were making headphones before you got your first PC. For context, then: the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D8T886S/?tag=pcgedit-20">Turtle Beach&nbsp;Ear Force Z300</a> is a wireless PC variation on its excellent PX4 and Stealth models for PS4 and Xbox One, respectively.</p><p> It boasts a specific surround technology from Dolby called DTX Headphone: X, which is particularly good at tricking your ears into hearing a broad vertical space in addition to a wide stereo pan. When using these to listen to a 7.1 surround mix that makes use of that tech, the effect is wonderfully cinematic.</p><p> In fact it’s that surround sound quality, coupled with the Z300’s excellent construction, that has us singling it out from the crowd at the $150 mark (give or take a few bucks). The circumaural cups do a brilliant job of filtering out external noise while also minimising heat levels thanks to a breathable material cover over its cushioned pads. It’s extremely adjustable, and the wide design of the headband allays any sensation of its weight digging in to the top of your head.</p><p> Compared to our absolute top pick, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G6IJ5NI/?tag=pcgedit-20">Steelseries H Wireless</a>, there is a noticeable difference in comfort levels during long sessions (largely down to the softer materials used in the Steelseries model’s contact points). There’s less between them in surround quality, though. Turtle Beach has been building surround cans for consoles for years now, and knows the algorithms needed to trick your ears into perceiving a wide space.</p><p> What’s more, it’s a really unfussy piece of hardware. Setup requires connecting a single, memory stick-sized USB receiver, and&hellip; that’s it. No long, dangling wires from the receiver to your PC as with so many other wireless setups. There are volume, mic volume, EQ options and compression on/off buttons on the earcups themselves, but the design doesn’t look busy or crowded.</p><p> Bonus feature: it’s Bluetooth compatible, so you can hook it up to your smartphone or tablet in addition to your PC. However, that plus point actually leads us onto a flaw in the Z300’s overall package. Wireless range using the USB receiver isn’t great&mdash;the bar’s set high enough that you expect to be able to continue listening anywhere in your home, and that wasn’t true for us in this case. Via Bluetooth it’s much better though, so if you have a Bluetooth receiver for your PC it’s a good idea to use that format.</p><p> Perhaps the above issue makes this a slightly controversial pick, but in addition to the tank-like build and surround sound chops of the Z300, there’s also a really handy 15-hour battery life to win you back over. As with the SteelSeries H Wireless, we found the manufacturer wasn’t lying on the spec sheet, and that a fully charged pair really does last longer than you’d ever want to use them for in one session&mdash;comfortably three or four sessions, actually.</p><p> Competition is fierce at this price point; relative superiority between one manufacturer’s prize fighter and another is slim. But Turtle Beach is wise to pack its strengths in the console market into this PC headset, and though it’s not a perfect offering in terms of range, the surround experience will blow you away in-game.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D8T886S/?tag=pcgedit-20">The Turtle Beach Z300</a> is the best wireless headset we've used at a mid-budget price.</p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-4">On the next page: the best cheap wireless gaming headset.</a></p><hr><p> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/">Page 1:&nbsp;Introduction to the best wireless gaming headsets</a><br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-2">Page 2: The best wireless gaming headset</a><br> Page 3: The best mid-budget wireless gaming headset<br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-4">Page 4: The best budget wireless gaming headset</a><br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-5">Page 5: Wrapping up: competitors and future</a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/U7upyKO0RBqd.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hB2Q8He69S4-.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="CorsairGaming H2100 Headset"></p><h2>The best budget wireless gaming headset: Corsair Gaming H2100</h2> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Specs</h5> <p> Price: $90 (£78) <br> Frequency Response: 40Hz&mdash;20kHz 5/-5dB, -10dB @ 35Hz <br> Impedance: 32 Ohms @ 1kHz <br> Drivers: 50mm <br> Connector:&nbsp;Wireless&nbsp;USB </p> <p> Microphone type: Unidirectional noise-cancelling&nbsp;condenser <br> Impedance: 2.2k&nbsp;Ohms <br> Frequency Response: 100Hz to 10kHzSensitivity -37dB (+/-3dB) </p> </div><p> It’s an oldie, but&nbsp; <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N803C7W/?tag=pcgedit-20">Corsair’s Gaming H2100</a> wireless set is as strong a package now as it was at launch in late 2013, and of course a couple years before that in its earlier incarnations. And now that it’s dropped below the $100 mark, it’s kind of a no-brainer for budget buyers.</p><p> As with every peripheral Corsair puts out, the build quality on show in these cans is extraordinary. The closed-cup design features massively oversized cups, big enough to envelop any set of ears, and thus block out distracting noise while giving the bass a little chamber to resonate in. The body’s constructed using a mixture of plastics and lightweight aluminium, keeping the overall weight low enough to maximise comfort levels. Oh, and the enormous padded headband doesn’t exactly hurt on that front, either.</p><p> There’s just one on-off switch on the right cup, and a nicely textured volume roller below it, so it isn’t bursting with inline controls like our $150 pick, but the simplicity really adds to its look.</p><p> However, like our $150 pick, The H2100 is another fuss-free setup, requiring only a single USB slot to connect its receiver. Battery life is a perfectly usable ten hours&mdash;less than our other picks, and not something to brag about on the packaging, but certainly enough to get you through any one session before those beeps kick in.</p><p> It’s in the sound quality where you start to hear the difference $200 makes&mdash;the H2100’s midrange lacks a little clarity compared to our newfound favourite, the SteelSeries H Wireless, but for the money it still offers powerful low-end and convincing positional audio that’ll immerse you in your games. You’ll feel the lack of sparkle when listening to music, but them’s the breaks at the budget end.</p><p> All things considered though, $90 is practically theft for the level of quality on offer with the&nbsp; <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N803C7W/?tag=pcgedit-20">Corsair H2100</a>. They’re arguably the best-looking cans in the whole roundup, and though their sound and battery life can’t compete with the upper echelon, the downside to you when using them in the real world is minimal.</p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-5">On the next page: wrapping up, competitors, and future testing.</a></p><hr><p> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/">Page 1:&nbsp;Introduction to the best wireless gaming headsets</a><br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-2">Page 2: The best wireless gaming headset</a><br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-3">Page 3: The best mid-budget wireless gaming headset</a><br> Page 4: The best budget wireless gaming headset<br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-5">Page 5: Wrapping up: competitors and future</a></p><h2> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qhtxdJkQRm28.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3eYnM5G-A6Ds.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steelseries H Wireless Hero" style="background-color: initial;"></p></h2><h2>Wrapping up: competitors and future testing</h2><p> The wireless market’s considerably smaller than its wired counterpart&mdash;most of the big players in USB/3.5mm gaming headsets have a wireless option, but usually just the one. As such the current market competitors list is a bit slim. The range expands when you look as far as console-specific wireless cans, but in the interest of ensuring full compatibility we’ve stuck to officially supported PC models.</p><p> <strong>Plantronics .Audio 995</strong> - Oddly, Plantronics doesn’t have a bespoke wireless gaming headset; this .Audio 995 is designed for office and multimedia use but is about as close to gaming spec as the manufacturer gets sans cables. It has a good rep for comfort and sound quality, and an appealing price at around $45, but as it’s designed for use when you’re on the clock rather than on the ranked servers, it’s best to look elsewhere.</p><p> <strong>Sades Stereo 7.1 Surround Pro</strong> - don’t be taken in by the sub-$30 price tag. Online customer reviews tell a woeful story involving nonexistent driver support, defective mics, and even suggestions that this is a ‘grey market’ model which isn’t authorised for sale to the United States.</p><p> <strong>Creative Sound Blaster Recon 3D Omega</strong>&nbsp;-<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Edged out of ‘best overall’ contention by a fraction. Despite fantastic surround sound and comfort levels, the Recon 3D soundcard creates a lot of cable clutter and its headset’s admittedly strong battery life can’t compete with SteelSeries elegant swappable battery solution.</p><p> <strong>Turtle Beach Ear Force i60 </strong>-&nbsp;The last word in luxury in all aspects&hellip; if you’re a Mac user. Full functionality is possible but not guaranteed on Windows, and though it’s very nearly worth the risk, there are other options of the same or higher quality which make it a moot point.</p><p> <strong>Astro Gaming A50 </strong>-<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Another candidate that missed out by a whisker for ‘best overall.’ Flawless sound, bomb-proof build quality, and a few minor niggles such as unpredictable battery life, and a strangely short charge cable.</p><p> <strong>Logitech G930 </strong>-<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Looks and feels the part, offering great surround sound too. However, many users report problems with stutter or random disconnections. Battery life isn’t great for the price, either.</p><p> <strong>Creative Sound Blaster Evo</strong> -&nbsp;ticks the basic sound/build quality boxes, but is let down by mediocre battery life and develops noisy joints over time. Oddly, mic sound quality is extraordinarily good. Go figure.</p><p> <strong>Creative Sound Blaster Evo ZxR</strong> -&nbsp;More expensive than the Evo, and with more functionality to show for it. However, being built around the same basic design, it suffers the same physical problems. And, look, we don’t want to get personal, but it’s really ugly.</p><p> <strong>Razer Adaro Bluetooth</strong> -&nbsp;As the name suggests, this is a Bluetooth-only set, and not really intended with the PC gamer at the front of the queue. Good sound quality and range, but lacking the extras we take for granted in the gaming market and if you don’t have a Bluetooth receiver on your PC&mdash;well, forget it.</p><h3>Future testing</h3><p> For now,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G6IJ5NI/?tag=pcgedit-20">the Steelseries H Wireless</a> is our favorite wireless gaming headset.&nbsp;The wireless end of PC gaming audio gear offers less choice than that of wired peripherals, but it’s still a big marketplace&mdash;what’s more, it’s populated by models with incremental improvements and price hikes from the same manufacturers. As such, we haven’t tested every single model available, but done our best to seek out the cream of the crop. And from that cream, we’ve cherry-picked a) the absolute best options available right now, and b) a really odd, food-themed mixing of metaphors.</p><p> It’s also a marketplace that moves fast&mdash;so we’ll be keeping our eye on it and updating it as promising new models are released.</p><p><em>A note on affiliates: some of our stories, like this one, include affiliate links to stores like Amazon. These online stores share a small amount of revenue with us if you buy something through one of these links, which helps support our work evaluating PC components.</em></p><hr> <p> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/">Page 1:&nbsp;Introduction to the best wireless gaming headsets</a><br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-2">Page 2: The best wireless gaming headset</a><br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-3">Page 3: The best mid-budget wireless gaming headset</a><br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-headsets/#page-4">Page 4: The best budget wireless gaming headset</a><br> Page 5: Wrapping up: competitors and future</p> The Music of League of Legends is free to download (and really good)http://www.pcgamer.com/the-music-of-league-of-legends-is-free-to-download-and-really-good/Even if you don't play LoL, this soundtrack is worth having.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:36:17 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-music-of-league-of-legends-is-free-to-download-and-really-good/League of LegendsMOBANewsRiot Games <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0AvWV6Mk374?vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"> </iframe><p> Volume 1 of the Music of League of Legends, a collection of 15 "new and classic" tracks from the game, is now available for purchase from <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/league-of-legends/id960030338?ign-mpt=uo%3D4">iTunes</a>, <a href="https://play.google.com/store/music/album?id=Bhswd4hgiccj6x6eidsv7ti4clm&amp;tid=song-Thmpge5zidkpzwz4j5m6mbid34u">Google Play</a>, and other fine online retailers. Or, if you prefer, you can just <a href="http://promo.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/music-of-league/">download it for free</a> directly from Riot.</p><p> The tracks are in MP3 format, perhaps disappointing for die-hard audiophiles, but they're 320kbps, which is about as good as it gets. Each track can also be played individually on the LoL site, if you want to try before you buy&mdash;although "buy," remember, in this case means "download at no charge."</p><p> I haven't listened to all of the tracks yet, but what I've heard so far is really good, sometimes brooding, sometimes bombastic, and in the case of The Curse of the Sad Mummy, kind of... well, sad, too. But as good as it is, the real treat for fans of videogame music may actually be Frequencies, a 46-minute documentary that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the soundtrack.&nbsp;</p><p>"Music and games share an intertwined history stretching back to neon-soaked arcades and dusty living rooms crowded with tangles of twisting plastic controller cords. From chiptune scores to the sweeping symphonies of expansive fantasy worlds,the relationship shared between games and music simultaneously elevates both art forms," the <a href="http://frequencies.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/frequencies/">Frequencies site</a> says. "Frequencies is a behind-the-scenes look at that harmony at Riot; the moment when creativity, collaboration, and passion collide to forge and reinforce story through music."</p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4bQBmAO0hk4?vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> As far as I can tell there's no time limit on the freebie, but the fact that it's being offered for sale&mdash;as in, not for free&mdash;on other sites makes me think that there may be a clock ticking away somewhere. Best grab it while you can.</p> Why I Love: The toilets of Dishonoredhttp://www.pcgamer.com/why-i-love-the-toilets-of-dishonored/You can tell a lot about a game from the fidelity of its toilets.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:03:23 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/why-i-love-the-toilets-of-dishonored/DishonoredWhy I Love <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RJiIlvKfTPm2.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ubPuEXBax-c9.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Dishonored toilets header" style="background-color: initial;"></p><div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title" style="margin-left: 0px;">WHY I LOVE</h5> <p> In&nbsp; <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/why-i-love/">Why I Love</a>, PC Gamer writers pick an aspect of PC gaming that they love and write about why it's brilliant. Today, Sam marvels at the attention to detail in Arkane's Dishonored. </p> </div><p> There’s nothing memorable about the toilets in most games, but I’ll never forget the toilets in Dishonored. When I reflect on the WCs in gaming’s recent past, I can remember plenty instances involving toilets&mdash;flushing the loo in almost every first-person games, for example or finding a recording in a particularly dirty one in BioShock&mdash;but the toilet itself, as a piece of visual design, is always unremarkable. It doesn’t need to be an outstanding flourish of a prop, after all, because it’s functional. PC Gamer would not mark a game down for having a boring toilet. Even in Andrew Ryan’s Rapture, the best that mankind has to offer is satisfied with a bit of familiar porcelain&mdash;unless mediocre lavatories were the real reason the civil war kicked off, which I’m pretty sure isn’t what Ken Levine and company were going for.</p><p> Dishonored’s fancy opening and closing chamber pot, pictured below, shows just how granular the team at Arkane got with world building in the 2012 immersive sim. It’s so pretty that I’d happily use it as an ottoman in my flat. I love this toilet because it shows how far the team was willing to go in making even the most functional elements of the world a little bit special. Late last year, I played through for the second time and invested hours in exploring every detail, locked room or systems-driven variables in how I completed each level. I wanted a comprehensive playthrough, having foolishly mainlined the story the first time. What I considered along the way is that Dishonored’s environments are collectively the perfect size: enough for the player to get a proper snapshot of the world, but not so large that it feels like it’s repeating itself (even instances where you revisit parts of the world later in the story are given a strong narrative justification).</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xM3Okp_uRGSN.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/N9BYBmf58Ur_.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Toilet 2"></p><p> You might only spot Dishonored’s toilets once every few missions, or maybe not at all, but I enjoy the idea that getting something like this right is as important to Dunwall feeling coherent as something high-concept, such as the Tall Boy walkers or automated turrets. World-building should not be limited to just the big stuff, and it speaks to how consistent Dishonored is as an immersive sim. I can’t think of a single basic element of the game that they get wrong: later parts of the story that leave the mission structure behind might lack the energy of earlier levels, but there’s little I can think of that would improve the art direction, combat, AI and stealth.</p><p> Dishonored is a brilliant piece of work, whatever angle you take with it&mdash;the success of creating this world comes down to that ideal balance between size and detail. Even if you empty these worlds of NPCs&mdash;and I did, because I prefer the kind of stealth scenarios where everyone dies in increasingly novel and hilarious ways&mdash;it’s worth hanging around to pick out the side rooms and artistic flourishes. Like the very best immersive sims, Dishonored tells a story with its art direction, one of class difference, outrageous and gaudy wealth built on a foundation of socioeconomic decay. The contrast between rich and poor is one of the strongest visual ideas this game has, but this only works because the world feels so lived in and fleshed out. Every piece of set design is there for a reason, to contribute to the telling of Dunwall’s story. Even the shitter.</p> Ken Levine teases sci-fi PC gamehttp://www.pcgamer.com/ken-levine-teases-sci-fi-pc-game/Levine takes to Twitter to drop hints at hisnext game.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:17:29 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/ken-levine-teases-sci-fi-pc-game/FPSKen LevineNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NJYMrAImQXid.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1ZqsJpv33KJB.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Levine"></p><p>Ken Levine's been dropping the scoops on his next project. On Twitter, he's been answering fan questions about the first game from his&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/irrational-games-winding-down-ken-levine-starting-smaller-team-within-take-two/" target="_blank">smaller, post-Irrational team</a>.</p><p>For instance, did you know that the new game will be sci-fi, or at least sci-fi-ish?&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/IGLevine/status/560144153703899138" target="_blank">You do now</a>. The team are also currently&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/IGLevine/status/560141445487931395" target="_blank">considering first-person</a> for the view mode, and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/IGLevine/status/560151390883155968" target="_blank">will be developing the game</a> for PC. As for the genre, "I think small open worldish (but not necessarily outdoors) RPG&nbsp;with quest structure coming from passion system,"&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/IGLevine/status/560162045606494208" target="_blank">he writes</a>.</p><p>Back at GDC, Levine referred to the game as making use of "narrative Lego"&mdash;giving&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58FWUkA8y2Q" target="_blank">a presentation</a> on how he plans to make repeatable, systemic stories.&nbsp;On Twitter, Levine was asked&nbsp;whether Shadow of Mordor had any impact on the project. He responding&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/IGLevine/status/560146958451748865" target="_blank">by saying</a> "mostly in that it validated that people would care about narrative replayability."</p><p>The ultimate aim,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/IGLevine/status/560148053018312705" target="_blank">Levine says</a>, is a systems-based narrative to which the team can expand into. Not adding new story on top, but into the existing story&mdash;like a Civilization expansion adds depth to the existing game.</p><p>Thanks,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2015/01/27/ken-levine-on-next-game-shadow-of-mordor-validated-interest-in-narrative-replayability.aspx" target="_blank">Game Informer</a>.</p> The best total conversion mods everhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-total-conversion-mods-ever/The best and most ambitious mod projects ever.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:30:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-total-conversion-mods-ever/Arma 3Crusader Kings 2Deus ExDoomDoom 3Garry's ModHalf-LifeHalf-Life 2HomeworldMedieval II: Total WarMount & Blade: WarbandThe Elder Scrolls IV: OblivionThe Stanley ParableUnreal Tournament 2004 System Shock Infinite 2.0 mod updates with new difficulty optionshttp://www.pcgamer.com/system-shock-infinite-mod-update-adds-new-difficulty-options/Unofficial System Shock 2 sequel gets closer to its full release.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:04:18 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/system-shock-infinite-mod-update-adds-new-difficulty-options/ModsNewsRPGSystem Shock 2 <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xHPbfqnNRqmW.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/wYOP937tFI0b.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="System Shock Infinite"></p><p>A quick search through the archives&nbsp;reveals that we're yet to write&nbsp;about System Shock Infinite 2.0. Let's do something about&nbsp;that, before we get the hose again. It's a System Shock 2 mod billed as an unofficial sequel to Irrational's late-'90s classic. It recently relaunched with the 2.0 moniker, and is currently in beta ahead of the full release.</p><p>A "Beta 8" update has just been released, and it brings rebalanced difficulty through an optional "2015 Mode". The name is a clear parallel of Bioshock Infinite's 1999 Mode. Where that increased the difificulty, this, in the mod-maker's own words,&nbsp;"[tones]&nbsp;down challenges and quirks of the combat system."</p><p>System Shock Infinite 2.0 offers multiple storylines that the player can choose by summoning them through a "tear in protoreality". It's a neat concept, playing off both System Shock and Bioshock Infinite, and provides&nbsp;a neat way to extend your time on the Von Braun.</p><p>As&nbsp;<a href="http://www.moddb.com/mods/system-shock-infinite/news/system-shock-infinite-beta-8-released" target="_blank">the mod team explains</a>:</p><p><em>"</em><em>System Shock Infinite 2.0 is currently in beta phase and includes 10 new levels set in Cyberspace, with 4 storylines to unlock, new characters and cinematics. ... Keep an eye out for the final version, coming soon!"</em></p><p>For more info, and to download System Shock Infinite 2.0, head to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.moddb.com/mods/system-shock-infinite" target="_blank">its&nbsp;ModDB page</a>.</p> World of Warcraft 6.1 hits PTR, contains selfie camerahttp://www.pcgamer.com/world-of-warcraft-61-hits-ptr-contains-selfie-camera/Also: Twitter integration, new Blood Elf model and Instragam-style filters.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:23:52 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/world-of-warcraft-61-hits-ptr-contains-selfie-camera/BlizzardMMONewsWorld of Warcraft <p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6lL7bjjlR9yW.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9_mvlrWsgrNN.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Image source: 'Leeyloo'" class=""><figcaption>Image source: 'Leeyloo'</figcaption></figure></p><p>Patch 6.1 for World of Warcraft is now&nbsp;in the Public Test Realm. You can see a run-down of its features&mdash;including a better Blood Elf and Twitter integration&mdash;<a href="http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/17561381/61-ptr-patch-notes-1-23-2015" target="_blank">right here</a>.</p><p>Also in Patch 6.1: a&nbsp;<a href="http://ptr.wowhead.com/item=122637/s-e-l-f-i-e-camera" target="_blank">S.E.L.F.I.E. camera</a>. It's a camera that lets you take selfies, because it's 2015 and if a person wants to take a selfie of their digital avatar, they damn well better be able to take a selfie of their digital avatar.</p><p>To get the camera, players need to complete&nbsp;<a href="http://ptr.wowhead.com/mission=501/field-photography" target="_blank">Field Photography</a>, a&nbsp;rare level 100 garrison mission. If they subsequently complete the mission&nbsp;<a href="http://ptr.wowhead.com/mission=502/lens-some-hands" target="_blank">Lens Some Hands</a>, they'll be able to upgrade the camera with three filters&mdash;a Sketch filter, Black and White filter, and "Death" filter.</p><p>When the patch goes live for the stable branch we will, of course, be asking you to send us your best WoW selfies. We're hip to the trends like that.</p><p><em>Image:&nbsp;</em><a href="http://ptr.wowhead.com/user=Leeyloo#screenshots" target="_blank"><em>'Leeyloo'</em></a></p> Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns devs talk new lands, masteries and PvPhttp://www.pcgamer.com/guild-wars-2-heart-of-thorns-interview/ We talk to Mike O'Brien and Colin Johanson about Guild Wars 2's first expansion.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 11:17:02 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/guild-wars-2-heart-of-thorns-interview/ArenaNetGuild Wars 2interviewMMO <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9d8jo9vnSfGU.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/yYfzxOoQVgOs.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="GW2HoT 01-2015 Gold Hub Steps"></p><p><em>On Saturday, ArenaNet announced Guild Wars 2's first expansion, Heart of Thorns. The day after, I spoke with&nbsp;Mike O'Brien, president and co-founder of ArenaNet, and&nbsp;Colin Johanson, Guild Wars 2 game director. Here's that interview, covering both Heart of Thorns, and what it means for the game and its future.</em></p><p> <strong> PC Gamer: Are you pleased with the reaction to the announcement?</strong></p><p> <strong>Mike O'Brien:</strong> Definitely. We just had a fan gathering last night and got to hang out with a lot of Guild Wars players. Honestly, players are thrilled with what they saw yesterday. It's such a pleasure to hang out with them right now.</p><p> <strong> PCG: This expansion is unusual in that the lead-up has been almost two years in the making. Do you think it's going to be hard to balance the needs of players who've played all Living World episodes, returning players who have maybe only completed the main story, and any new players coming to the game for the first time? A lot has happened.</strong></p><p> <strong>Mike:</strong> Well definitely a lot's happened. One great thing about Living World: Season Two is that anyone can play Living World: Season Two. Even down the road people can play Season Two. Certainly, right now, I recommend that anybody who's excited about Heart of Thorns should get into the game and play episode eight. Episode eight weaves right into the story of Heart of Thorns. Anybody who wants to set up for themselves what the story of Heart of Thorns is, play it now.</p><p> <strong> PCG: One of the big revelations at the end of episode eight was that the Sylvari were from Mordremoth. They're corruptible. How are you progressing that given that they're also a playable race?</strong></p><p> <strong>Colin Johanson:</strong> You know, I think that's a great question that we are looking forward to showing people when they get in and play the game. We don't want to give away too much of that right now, other than to say that if people don't have a Sylvari character yet, it's a great time to make one and have one ready to go for Heart of Thorns. It's really going to be an interesting experience, and a twist that a lot of players are really excited about what it could mean for the game.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/147x-wbCer0?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p> <strong> PCG: How big is the new region, Heart of Maguuma?</strong></p><p> <strong>Colin:</strong> You know, we picked a different philosophy for building out this region. We're really focusing on doing less broad development and more deep development. I think historically you'll see expansions for MMOs do a bunch of maps that players progress through very quickly and leave a wasteland of empty worlds behind them. We're really focusing on doing less total maps and instead making them really, really deep, filled with a ton of replay value; a ton of content to explore and see. A lot of content that, as you progress through it, you'll see for the first time and you won't be able to get there, or you'll encounter challenges that you can't overcome the first time that you see them. As you progress and build through our mastery system, you'll be able to return and overcome those challenges and get to those places you couldn't get to the first time through. And so we're really focusing on: let's do a little bit in the grand scheme of things; let's do a smaller sized area for total scope, and focus really on depth. Make maps that have an incredible amount of replay value, so every time that you log in you can go back in there and have a new experience. Have an incredibly deep experience and enjoy playing over and over again in that content.</p><p> I think in a lot of ways, philosophically, you look at what makes a lot of games have really good replay value, and often times you look at competitive games where a lot of them have a game mode and people will play it over and over again for years. We're really trying to take that concept and that experience with our PvE and provide that same type of experience where you don't have a ton of maps that you tear through and go away. Instead, they have really deep experiences that you can play over and over again and have an amazing time with.</p><p> <b style="background-color: initial;">PCG: Does that mean you're pushing the dynamic event system much further this time around?</b></p><p> <strong>Colin:</strong> Yeah, I would say: every core pillar of what makes the Guild Wars 2 open world experience what it is, we're trying to build on those and build a richer, deeper experience&mdash;with our event system, with our content, with the creatures you encounter, with the difficulty of those encounters. We want to build challenging group encounters as part of this experience that you're not going to beat the first time. That you're going to have to learn how to overcome them and build tactics, and you're going to want to come back and play again so you can overcome those challenges again. And it's a really big part of where we want to go, and a part of Guild Wars 2 that we really think we can grow and expand on.</p><blockquote>We realised one of the things Guild Wars 2 really needs is a system for clear end game progression that meets the pillars of what Guild Wars is all about.</blockquote><p> <strong> PCG: In a sense then, it's an end game expansion? A lot of stuff that's comparable&mdash;perhaps even beyond&mdash;the hardest group events currently in the game. Like, for example, the Triple Head Wurm? Things that players need to work together and plan for.</strong></p><p> <strong>Colin:</strong> Yeah, I think we realised one of the things Guild Wars 2 really needs is a system for clear end game progression that meets the pillars of what Guild Wars is all about. Challenging content that when you encounter it you're not going to beat it the first time. You can use this progression, and build and overcome challenges, and have challenging content that's harder than anything we've ever done, and do it more regularly than we've been able to do it before. I think that is something that Guild Wars 2 needs. I think it's been pretty clear from the experiences over the last couple of years that we've heard. That that's something people would love to see in the game. And that's one of the main reasons we built this expansion.</p><p> <b style="background-color: initial;">PCG: How does the verticality of the jungle play into that? Will players be able to see events happening at a different level, and think "I need to get there. There's clearly something happening I want to be a part of"?</b></p><p> <strong>Colin:</strong> Yeah. Verticality wise, the jungle has the most vertical game space we have ever built in Guild Wars 2. You literally can come at the jungle floor and climb all the way up to the very top of the canopy of the jungle, and the very tree tops above you. The end of our Living World: Season Two episode had the Pact Fleet crashing into the top of the jungle as it was destroyed, and literally the wreckage of that fleet is scattered all over the top of the jungle. And you're going to be able to go up all the way into that top and explore inside the wreckage of the fleet, jumping across the top of the jungle, and using our new mastery system to purchase abilities to master exploration. Like hang-gliding, so you can really experience that 3D space in even better and more deeper ways. And it's going to be filled with locations that you want to get to, and as you build up and earn these masteries, you can start exploring more and more of this incredible amount of vertical space.</p><p> <strong>Mike:</strong> The verticality is really off the charts, I've got to say. When you go into the jungle for the first time, it's really like nothing you've ever seen before.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/aWwJ3UB4Shap.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EEWbM9KQiYjx.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="GW2HoT 01-2015 Rytlock Vines"></p><p> <strong> PCG: Yeah, I'm looking forward to that. One of the cool things about the Silverwastes&mdash;when the jumping puzzle was added&mdash;was running over the top of the map and looking below as the other players were fighting for the events.</strong></p><p> <strong>Colin:</strong> I think a good example is the concepts we played around with in Dry Top and Silverwastes. The broader experience. The more meaningful content. Events playing all as part of a broader experience&mdash;making more of a map-wide experience&mdash;and having a lot more replay value to those. I think a great example of what we want to do is to take that concept and take it even further, and build more on top of that. That's been really successful for us, and the jungle is really going to take that and take it to the next level with the event system and with the exploration. That jumping puzzle was certainly a little bit of an experiment for us, looking ahead at the stuff we want to do.</p><p> <strong> PCG: On stage, you asked the crowd if they wanted new levels and new tiers of gear, and got a resounding "no" back. Is that something you were confident the community wasn't interested in?</strong></p><p> <strong>Mike:</strong> This was a very, very plugged in crowd. I was impressed with the audience at the show. Guild Wars players come to us very savvy about MMOs, and one thing we see over and over with our audience is they've been through it before. They know what it can be if we're not careful, and they are holding us to very high standards. I pretty much knew that if I got up there and said, yeah, this is the expansion pack where we're adding the gear treadmill that they were going to rush the stage and, you know, throttle me. So I had a pretty clear idea of what the fans are looking for. But as we went into every detail about Heart of Thorns on that stage yesterday, that was just such a plugged in audience. They had been anticipating and thinking about every detail of Heart of Thorns.</p><p><em>On the next page: masteries, specialisations and the future of Guild Wars 2.</em></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oFoqV5xlTsex.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PNtohE4fK2bl.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="GW2HoT 01-2015 Rytlock" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p> <strong> PCG: Looking at the masteries, one thing you said was that mastery points were account bound. Does it follow the World vs. World system, where you expect characters to specialise in masteries rather than trying to collect them all? So you have one character focused on a particular thing, and another maybe another?</strong></p><p> <strong>Colin:</strong> The World vs World ability system is in some ways a template for what the masteries system provides. But I'd say the mastery system is a more advanced, more expansive system than that&mdash;built on things we've learned both for what we want to do with PvE, and some of the things we learned from the World vs. World system as well. And we're actually going to make some changes to the World vs. World system to make it a little bit more like the way the masteries system is going to function. At its core, exactly how you progress is something we're going to come and talk about later&mdash;between now and the release of the expansion. The most important message we want to get across is you do it once, and when you've earned a mastery point you've got it for every character, and you've earned those abilities for every character. You don't have to go back and grind on every one of your characters to get all this.</p><p> <strong> PCG: Oh, so an ability you purchase for one character is applied to all of them?</strong></p><p> <strong>Colin:</strong> That is currently the plan, yes.</p><p> <strong> PCG: Another thing you announced was profession specialisations. The one you revealed was the Druid. That the Ranger was getting a staff weapon. Beyond having a different weapon, how different will the druid specialisation be from a 'standard' Ranger?</strong></p><p> <strong>Colin:</strong> We're really trying to make it feel like it's almost a sub-profession or a secondary profession if you will, and not just a new set of a couple of skills. It's not just opening up the capacity to use a staff. When a ranger becomes a druid, they have an entire new set of skills and traits that come available to them. And their profession mechanic changes as well. That's true with all the specialisations. You actually play the profession differently, not just in skills and traits, but in the core mechanics of those professions. Some of them will change an existing profession, some of them might give them entirely new profession abilities and remove other ones. It really varies specialisation to specialisation, but it really should feel like you are playing a new version of your old profession. And players can actually mix and match a little bit. If you are playing as a Druid you will be able to use a lot of the Ranger's skills, and you can actually slot them in to make a lot of creative builds. But a Ranger can not use any of the stuff a Druid has unless they become a Druid.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/54ucC9jIiWE?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> <strong> PCG: So philosophically, with creating these specialisations, was the idea to fill gaps a profession wouldn't normally be equipped for?</strong></p><p> <strong>Colin:</strong> Yeah, I think that's a fair description. We definitely looked at each profession and asked what are some of the things that we think this profession doesn't currently do that we'd love for them to be able to do? What role do we want to try to expand on that they can't do, or what gameplay would be really awesome to add to this profession? In some cases, we went way outside the box to go with some stuff that I think people are going to be pretty shocked and pretty excited when they get a chance to see how some of this stuff works. It's definitely trying to create a wider variety of roles for players in combat and with their profession. That is a big part of the specialisation system.</p><p> It's also laying a permanent groundwork for us that we can use to expand and build on in the future, and that's a common theme with everything you're going to find in this expansion. Every decision we made, and the entire reason we made this expansion, was so that when this expansion releases we have the framework. We have the pillars we need so that we can regularly grow the game in the future. Specialisations is one of the key components of that.</p><p> <strong>PCG: So this is a template for not just Guild Wars this year, but Guild Wars over the next three, four, five, etc. years?</strong></p><p> <strong>Colin:</strong> Yeah, absolutely. Every major system, from the way that we're handling progression with the mastery system, to the way that we're growing professions, to the guild progression and guild growth that we're doing with the guilds and Guild Halls&mdash;each of those are intended to be a very clear message to our fans and to our players. This is the system we will use now for Guild Wars, and in the future for Guild Wars, to provide permanently these systems of growth for you, your characters and your account. </p><p> <strong>Mike:</strong> That's why I said up on stage that this expansion pack is so fundamental to Guild Wars. This is not "hey, wouldn't it be fun to do an expansion pack, let's throw in some features". This is us thinking about what Guild Wars needs to continue to grow and evolve for years to come. When we sat down and thought about that at the very beginning of this process, what we thought is Guild Wars needs the ability for us to deliver really challenging group content&mdash;content that is challenging enough that you come the first time and say "wow, I'm not prepared for this, I've gotta go prepare". And it needs the character progression to keep that possible, so you can keep evolving your characters&mdash;even though you're max level, even though you've got the best gear in the game&mdash;keep evolving your characters and keep learning the skills and abilities you need to take on new content that you can't take on yet. So this expansion pack is all about laying the groundwork, the features that we need in place so that we can keep building that new character progression and new super-challenging content for years to come. </p><blockquote> This is us thinking about what Guild Wars needs to continue to grow and evolve for years to come. </blockquote><p> <strong> PCG: With most of the expansion it's easy to see how it's an extension of the game. With the new WvW borderland map you've announced, that sounds more integrated into an existing thing. How does that affect World vs. World overall?</strong> </p><p> <strong>Colin:</strong> Yeah, so the new borderland map joins the rotation with the borderlands we have today. I think it just expands the depth of the World vs. World experience. Currently, the borderland is replicated three times as a home for each world, and our new borderland will give us a chance to get a lot more variety in gameplay. As a map itself, the borderland map is the strongest interpretation of how we believe the World vs. World experience should be played. Every location really provides key strategic value to the world that holds it. I think when you consider World vs. World as kind of like playing a giant RTS, and you're one of the troops, you want to have holding locations provide strategic value. That's a big part of that component of building a giant strategy and fighting with your army. </p><p> Towers are located at chokepoints in the new borderland map, and have walls around them that guard those chokepoints, so holding a tower actually helps you control movement in the map. It helps you prevent enemy armies from making quick assaults on your keeps. There are shrines that you can take, and the more shrines you hold, the more abilities that become available to your world around your keep, so defending your home becomes easier the more shrines that you hold. It becomes more important to hold each of those strategic locations. We're going to take the philosophy that we've built into this map, and we're actually going to apply it broadly to World vs. World as well, to make holding and defending key locations a bigger part of World vs. World. We think some of the most fun experiences in World vs. World are when you have these battles that happen at these towers and keeps&mdash;these epic siege moments&mdash;and we really want to get more of that experience and make that more of an important part of winning in World vs. World. </p><p> <strong> PCG: The Living World has wrapped up, and players have got this expansion coming in the future. Do they have anything to look forward to between these two points? Are there any game updates planned?</strong> </p><p> <strong>Mike:</strong> Well things are going to start happening really fast with the expansion pack. We are six weeks away from PAX East and Rezzed, and so people are going to be able to play the expansion pack for the first time in early March and then get into beta testing right after that. Of course, the live game will continue, so there are updates for the live game. But mostly right now we're going to be focused on beta testing this expansion pack. We waited to announce this until we had the whole package together. The whole package is together and it's coming up fast. Sitting down with players last night, talking about the expansion pack, of course the first words on everybody's lips are "when?" The truth is, that all depends on beta testing. We are getting right into beta testing here and we will be playing the expansion pack with all the Guild Wars 2 players, and testing these very important groundwork systems that we're building in. When the groundwork is there&mdash;when this is the foundation we're ready for to build Guild Wars on top of for the coming years&mdash;that's when we'll release it. </p> Dragon Age: Inquisition had most successful launch in Bioware historyhttp://www.pcgamer.com/dragon-age-inquisition-had-most-successful-launch-in-bioware-history/More than 113 million hours have been logged by the game's Inquisitors.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 10:42:31 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/dragon-age-inquisition-had-most-successful-launch-in-bioware-history/Dragon Age: InquisitionNewsRPG <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nCsGrWRaTVWe.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/4ekCmrvtRJPd.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pixel Boost - Dragon Age Inquisition - 09"></p><p>I hate earnings calls. I do not exist in the centre of the&nbsp;Venn diagram between&nbsp;people who like shotgunning digital soldiers in the face and people who enjoy the phrase "during Q3, we repurchased 2.5 million shares at a cost of $97 million". And so, while my natural tendency is to ignore EA's fiscal 2015 'Q3' earnings call, a bit of news made it worth diving inside.</p><p>You can see a&nbsp;<a href="http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/ERTS/3902305871x0x805234/BE08DDDD-026A-4C22-A1DC-0D5ECAF58B18/Q3_FY15_Earnings_Script.pdf" target="_blank">transcript of the call here</a>, should you want to know EA's&nbsp;non-GAAP diluted EPS for the quarter. The bit relevant to <em>my </em>interests can be found in the section concerning Dragon Age: Inquisition, where it's revealed to be Bioware's most successful launch in history.</p><p>Take it away, EA's Andrew Wilson:</p><p><em>"[Dragon Age: Inquisition]&nbsp;quickly became the most successful launch in BioWare history. More than 113 million hours&nbsp;have already been spent exploring the depth and detail of the single-player experience in&nbsp;</em><em>Dragon Age: Inquisition, and more players are joining each day."</em></p><p>Not bad going for the Bioware series that <em>isn't </em>about a cool space team&nbsp;shooting their way through&nbsp;the galaxy and chatting to each other&nbsp;about gun&nbsp;recalibration.</p><p>Unsurprisingly, you can expect future DLC for both Inquisition and some of EA's other big titles.&nbsp;"Players in our current experiences," Wilson said,&nbsp;"including&nbsp;Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Sims 4, the EA SPORTS portfolio and Battlefield 4 will continue to&nbsp;see updates and new content in the future." That content&nbsp;will probably take the form of additional multiplayer stuff, but there's always the chance of some new singleplayer, too.</p><p><strong>Update:</strong> An EA representative confirmed to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gamespot.com/articles/dragon-age-inquisition-is-now-bioware-s-most-succe/1100-6424928/" target="_blank">Gamespot</a> that the "most successful launch" metric was "based on units sold, but we are not disclosing that total."</p> Second Far Cry 4 DLC pack adds new missions and weaponshttp://www.pcgamer.com/second-far-cry-4-dlc-pack-adds-new-missions-and-weapons/You get to shoot a harpoon gun now.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 05:40:33 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/second-far-cry-4-dlc-pack-adds-new-missions-and-weapons/Far Cry 4FPSNewsUbisoft <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3r7tZyN3TmKh.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xgP5q0ESaz7g.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Far Cry 4"></p><p>Only a fortnight after Far Cry 4's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/far-cry-4-dlc-out-today-trailer-shows-us-what-its-all-about/">first post-launch&nbsp;DLC drop</a> comes Hurk Deluxe, a new pack bundling five new missions and a bunch of new weapons, including a harpoon gun. While the official release proves fairly unenlightening when it comes to what the missions entail, it's safe to say they'll offer fresh opportunities to kill things, which is what the game is all about, I guess.</p><p>Never mind though, because these screenshots should provide some sense of what the missions offer. Actually, they only prove that you will indeed be killing things again. The missions, titled&nbsp;Yak Farm, Blood Ruby and Hurk’s Redemption, are all playable in single-player.</p><p>If DLC isn't to your tastes, Far Cry 4 boasts a pretty powerful map editor, which we've&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/adventures-in-random-far-cry-4-maps-2/">had plenty of fun with</a>.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/D1QXb0MkQ_in.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/w86T5_MxsYWV.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Far Cry 4 Dlc Hurk Deluxe 1"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nFGKLn6GSFaP.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uE8MLWL60CvG.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Far Cry 4 Dlc Hurk Deluxe 3"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_tpawehNTvmo.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/93hQTBLTxA9S.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Far Cry 4 Dlc Hurk Deluxe 4" style="font-size: 14px; background-color: initial;"></p> Dying Light gameplay: max settings at 1440p on LPChttp://www.pcgamer.com/dying-light-gameplay-video-max-settings-at-1440p-on-lpc/We play Dying Lightwith all the settings maxed out at 1440p on the LPC.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 00:28:36 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/dying-light-gameplay-video-max-settings-at-1440p-on-lpc/Dying LightLPCSurvivalVideos <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/uWtqSUS7hAI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p>Dying Light came out today and our&nbsp;reviewer is currently&nbsp;eyebrow deep in cadavers while he puts&nbsp;the game through its paces. We'll have his verdict&nbsp;later this week, but in the meantime we fed Dying Light to the unfeeling&nbsp;computerised&nbsp;behemoth that is the Large Pixel Collider,&nbsp;set the graphics settings to "Best Quality," and recorded all the gory goodness at 1440p. Watch the video above to see the results, and be sure to check back soon for the final score.</p><p> <a href="http://lpc.pcgamer.com/" target="_blank"><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6yJYYnTaR_aA.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iwc4IQ2kesTT.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="LPC banner"></a></p><p> Want to see more from the LPC archive? Check out some of our other recent videos:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/far-cry-4-gameplay-video-max-settings-at-60-fps-on-lpc/" target="_blank">Far Cry 4</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/middle-earth-shadow-of-mordor-video-max-settings-at-2560x1440-on-lpc/" target="_blank">Middle-earth: Shadow of Morder</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/09/24/fifa-15-max-settings-at-2560x1440-on-lpc/">Fifa 15</a>, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/09/20/ryse-son-of-rome-pc-gameplay-video-1440p-on-the-lpc/">Ryse: Son Of Rome</a>, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/09/08/metro-2033-redux-video-max-settings-at-2560x1440-on-lpc/">Metro 2033 Redux</a>, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/08/19/deus-ex-with-new-vision-mod-video-max-settings-at-2560x1440-on-lpc/">Deus Ex</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/06/05/watch-dogs-video-max-settings-at-1920x1080-on-lpc/">Watch Dogs</a>, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/05/23/wolfenstein-the-new-order-video-max-settings-at-2560x1440-on-lpc/">Wolfenstein: The New Order</a>,&nbsp;and <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/11/18/arma-3-gameplay-video-maxed-settings-at-2560x1440/">Arma 3</a>. There's a lot more where that came from. Have a game in mind you'd like to see the LPC take on at ultra settings? <a href="https://twitter.com/pixelcollider">Tell the LPC directly on Twitter</a>.</p> Elite: Dangerous studio Frontier hit with redundancieshttp://www.pcgamer.com/elite-dangerous-studio-frontier-hit-with-redundancies/15 content creation roles to go.Wed, 28 Jan 2015 00:25:25 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/elite-dangerous-studio-frontier-hit-with-redundancies/Elite: DangerousFrontier DevelopmentsNewssim <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/axvUZaAeTIuY.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/v5MsEH-scoB0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Elite: Dangerous Hydroponic Stamford"></p><p>Frontier Developments will make 15 positions redundant, the studio announced today. Following last year's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/elite-dangerous/">Elite: Dangerous</a> launch, and this week's announcement of an impending Coaster Park Tycoon game, the studio announced in an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.frontier.co.uk/investor_relations/reports/news/?artid=477&amp;pageNum=0&amp;blk=275">investor's update</a> that it will "re-focus" its development activities away from its Nova Scotia office towards&nbsp;its Cambridge studio.</p><p>"Development roles are being moved from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Cambridge, and the overall staffing mix will be changed to match the needs of these two projects," the announcement read.</p><p>"15 content creation roles have been made redundant in Cambridge (from 281 total headcount), while Frontier continues to recruit in areas such as game and technology programming, server and web front end development."</p><p>The news follows the announcement of Coaster Park Tycoon earlier this week, which the studio intends to&nbsp;"run as a second franchise alongside&nbsp;continued development of its existing self-published Elite: Dangerous title".</p><p>While Elite: Dangerous launched to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/elite-dangerous-review/">favourable reviews</a> last month, it was not immune to controversy: the studio's eleventh hour decision to remove offline play resulted in many players demanding, and then receiving, a refund. The refund policy was&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/elite-dangerous-refund-policy-being-reconsidered/">later amended</a>.</p> Dragon's Dogma Online is a free-to-play RPG due later this yearhttp://www.pcgamer.com/dragons-dogma-online-is-a-free-to-play-rpg-due-later-this-year/Will feature four-player parties and climbable beasts.Tue, 27 Jan 2015 22:54:19 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/dragons-dogma-online-is-a-free-to-play-rpg-due-later-this-year/CapcomMMONewsRPG <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/n4jeOGW7T9mr.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Gmhsom1sTIdS.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="4 16 Dragons Dogma 45"></p><p>Capcom's action RPG Dragon's Dogma was a surprise hit when it released for consoles in 2012, and while there's been plenty of hustling&nbsp;for a PC port, it hasn't (and probably won't) happen.&nbsp;Instead,&nbsp;PC will get a taste of the series in the form of Dragon's Dogma Online, announced this week in Japanese games mag Famitsu. The free-to-play game is due to release later this year.</p><p>According to&nbsp;<a href="http://gematsu.com/2015/01/dragons-dogma-online-free-play-title-ps4-ps3-pc">Gematsu's translation</a>, Dragon's Dogma Online will inherit a lot of what made the original, single-player game special. You'll be able to climb all over&nbsp;the gigantic beasts you'll do battle with, for example.&nbsp;Four-character parties return, except this time your party will be controlled by human players rather than player constructed pawns. Meanwhile, producer&nbsp;Minae Matsukawa and director&nbsp;Kent Kinoshita insist that micro-transactions shouldn't prevent the game from feeling like a&nbsp;proper Dragon's Dogma adventure to returning players.</p><p>The world size&nbsp;will compare to the original's at launch, but the goal is to expand it to three times the size. Classwise, the game will launch with four: a&nbsp;Fighter, Hunter, Priest, and Shield Sage.</p><p>While it sounds promising, a cherished single-player game going free-to-play is sure to raise hackles. In the absence of gameplay footage or screenshots (there's a few grabs from the mag&nbsp;<a href="http://gematsu.com/2015/01/dragons-dogma-online-free-play-title-ps4-ps3-pc">over here</a>) we'll have to keep our fingers crossed.&nbsp;</p> Modder is restoring original Resident Evil voices to HD remakehttp://www.pcgamer.com/modder-is-restoring-original-resident-evil-voices-to-hd-remake/It's good news for people who like bad things.Tue, 27 Jan 2015 22:19:33 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/modder-is-restoring-original-resident-evil-voices-to-hd-remake/CapcomHorrorNewsResident Evil <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gkIjRPnejsg?vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> The voice acting in the original Resident Evil is famously awful, as this torturous 11-minute "Voice Acting Horror" <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVyOCssIXgQ">video</a>, courtesy of YouTube user gamegoonie, makes painfully clear. In that light it's hardly surprising that Capcom elected to record a&nbsp;revised script and&nbsp;new&nbsp;cast for the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/resident-evil-hd-remaster-review/">recently-released remake</a>. But there may yet be hope for those of you who, for whatever reason, would prefer to stick with the old cheese.</p><p> A <a href="http://residentevilmodding.boards.net/thread/3211/original-resident-evil-voice-acting">Resident Evil Modding forum</a> user by the name of Bunny revealed over the weekend that he's working on a mod that will replace the new voices with the "legendary" voice acting from the original. He's got five rooms done so far, and said he's working on finishing as many others as he can.</p><p> It's a tricky job, as other forum users have pointed out, since there are new scenes that aren't in the original game, and of course not everything is going to match up perfectly. But he's posted a couple of videos of his efforts on YouTube (one of them playing above, the other <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-ts=1422327029&amp;v=OmMXrJqD1ro&amp;x-yt-cl=84838260">here</a>), and they are <em>glorious</em>. I'm not sure I'd want to play the whole game like this, but I love the idea that it might be possible.</p> Homeworld Remastered preview: two classics looking their besthttp://www.pcgamer.com/homeworld-remastered-preview-two-classic-games-looking-their-best/A look at Gearbox's Homeworld remasteringfrom PAX South.Tue, 27 Jan 2015 22:09:55 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/homeworld-remastered-preview-two-classic-games-looking-their-best/HomeworldHomeworld RemasteredStrategy <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ABLKo7uzQlCG.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/AWTz0ekvLMMS.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="HW1 Remastered 01" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p> I first played Homeworld in 1999.&nbsp;Sixteen years on, I remember my hours with the space strategy sim about as well as I recall the topics of my first college classes that year, which is to say barely at all. And so&nbsp;it's with a mix of fear and nostalgia that I enter Gearbox's little preview room for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/homeworld-remastered/">Homeworld: Remastered</a> at PAX South&mdash;fear of looking like an idiot, and nostalgia for a part of my past that's been rejuvinated in a way I'll never be.&nbsp;</p><p> I needn't have worried. The two younger writers with me have never even heard of Homeworld before, and the Gearbox team itself, which acquired the rights during the big THQ selloff in 2013, seems more occupied with showing me how pretty the remastered version is than showing me gameplay. But <em>boy</em>, is it pretty. Gearbox has two tables set up in the small curtained room, each with two screens. On the left screen, there's the remastered version; on the right, there's the old version, and the team makes sure both start in unison. They're undoubtedly proud of their product: they'd probably shown this stuff 10 times before I showed up, and even so, I swear I hear one of them make a little clap as the cutscenes buzz to life.</p><p> The coordinated dance is a smart movie. Had I not seen the two side by side, I'm not sure I would have noticed how much had changed. Memory and imagination have a way of filling in the little details unattainable by the technology of 16 years ago, and the remastered version thus looked like the Homeworld I remembered, while the right screen looked like a rough draft.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zm3yjbAXRg24.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1v_k4WKprBKe.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="HW1 Remastered 07"></p><h2>Same vision, new sights</h2><p> It's a testament to how literally the team has taken the "remastered" concept. About four minutes in, the two versions are still in a rough unison (although, fascinatingly enough, the original version seems to take slightly longer to load), and yet I see differences in every detail. The first mothership the camera zooms in on looks fine enough in its 1999 form, but on the remastered screen, the light of the stars bounces off its hull and it's pocked with the scars of past battles or passing debris. Tendrils of nebulae akin to the Pillars of Creation worm their way through the orange backgrounds; in 1999, they looked more like they could be&nbsp;smears on the screen.</p><p> If I'm disappointed in the slightest, it's because the earlier opening cutscene had a hand-drawn look filled with bold black strokes, sort of like it was drawn by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird back when they were imagining amphibious mutant ninjas. The images are the same right down to their duration on the screen, but the new version seems a little too neat, too computer generated.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/NXjI3DgyOqM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> But on to the next table&mdash;after all, the cutscenes are such a tiny part of the experience. Homeworld is a game about space combat on an armada scale, and few games have done it better in the intervening decade and a half. To younger eyes, I imagine it looks a bit like EVE Online after the makeover, but Relic's game was created on the eve of CCP's sandbox, and its focus on&nbsp;coordination means it delivers a much different form of strategy.</p><p> Far too much strategy, it seems, for us to bother with in the 30 minutes I have with Gearbox. They've already set up an impressive battle on one of the other computers, forgoing the need to spend hours to build a fleet of my own. My interaction with the remastered version is actually limited to watching one of the guys with me select a bunch of ships with his mouse (including his mothership), and attacking the ships array on the other side of the void. The battle goes downhill almost as soon as it begins, and we laugh as his ship erupts into a spectacular explosion that looks like a small supernova. I can tell by fiddling with the original version next to me, though, that little has changed in the way of gameplay, although one of the team members tells me they've simplified some commands for the new version.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kFda2NfxSgWd.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/4YGZQwoFxgQE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="HW2 Remastered 04"></p><p> And boom, that's it. They shoo me out, and it's time for the next group to come in. It's hardly the most involved demonstration I've ever seen, but it's enough to establish that it's exactly what Gearbox said it is: a remaster. Fortunately, it looks like a good one, particularly since they've "merely" modernized the old games (a massive undertaking in itself).</p><p> You can pick up both the remastered and original versions of Homeworld 1 and 2 for $35/£27&nbsp;<a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/244160/" target="_blank">on Steam&nbsp;</a>on February 25, and doing so will also get you into the Homeworld Remastered Steam Multiplayer Beta. That's a good deal if you've never played them&nbsp;before, and from&nbsp;what I've seen of the remastered versions so far, I suspect they'll be worth it.</p> Nvidia GTX 960 rounduphttp://www.pcgamer.com/nvidia-gtx-960-roundup/All the GTX 960s we've found for sale (so far).Tue, 27 Jan 2015 21:16:47 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/nvidia-gtx-960-roundup/HardwareNewsNvidiaTech <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/CpPN9H8wS_-y.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/N4dw7emJO9TW.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Asus GTX 960 STRIX OC"></p><p>Last week, Nvidia&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/nvidia-release-geforce-gtx-960-mid-range-maxwell/">officially announced the GeForce GTX 960</a>, a mid-range minded card in the company's powerful line of Maxwell GPUs. Hot on Nvidia's tails, the full swath of hardware manufacturers have announced their own variations on the new card. Here's what you have to choose from, based on the models we could find currently on sale.</p><p>ZOTAC International has two options: the<a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500371&amp;cm_re=zotac_gtx_960-_-14-500-371-_-Product"> ZOTAC GTX 960</a> (1177/1240 MHz base/boost clock) for $199 and the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500370&amp;cm_re=zotac_gtx_960-_-14-500-370-_-Product">ZOTAC GTX 960 AMP! Edition</a> (1266/1329 MHz) for $209. </p><p>MSI is offering three versions: the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127842&amp;cm_re=msi_gtx_960-_-14-127-842-_-Product">2GD5</a> (1127/1178 MHz, $199),&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127844&amp;cm_re=msi_gtx_960-_-14-127-844-_-Product">2GD5T OC&nbsp;</a>(1178/1241 MHz, $209), which comes with Armor 2X cooling, and the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127843&amp;cm_re=msi_gtx_960-_-14-127-843-_-Product">Gaming 2G edition</a> (1216/1279 MHz, $219), which ses Twin Frozr V cooling.</p><p>EVGA has four versions.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.evga.com/products/Product.aspx?pn=02G-P4-2968-KR">GTX 960 FTW ACX 2.0+</a> (1304/1367 MHz, $229), GTX 960&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814487091&amp;cm_re=evga_gtx_960-_-14-487-091-_-Product">SuperSC ACX 2.0+</a> (1279/1342 MHz, $209),&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814487092&amp;cm_re=evga_gtx_960-_-14-487-092-_-Product">GTX 960 ACX 2.0+</a> (1127/1178 MHz, $209), and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.evga.com/Products/Product.aspx?pn=02G-P4-2962-KR">GTX 960 Superclocked</a> (1216/1279 MHz, $199).</p><p>Gigabyte has three offerings: the compact&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125772&amp;cm_re=gigabyte_gtx_960-_-14-125-772-_-Product">GV-N960IXOC-2GD</a>, which has a single-fan heatsink and clock speeds of 1165/1228 Mhz ($199). Next is the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125771&amp;cm_re=gigabyte_gtx_960-_-14-125-771-_-Product">GV-N960WF2OC-2GD</a>, with a slightly longer PCB, dual-fan WindForce 2X cooling solution, and a 1216/1279 MHz clock ($209). Third is the top-end&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125770&amp;cm_re=gigabyte_gtx_960-_-14-125-770-_-Product">GV-N960G1 GAMING-2GD</a>, which clocks in at 1241/1304 MHz ($209) and uses a WindForce 3X cooling solution, the same as is found on Gigabyte's GTX 970 G1.Gaming card.</p><p><a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814133579&amp;cm_re=pny_gtx_960-_-14-133-579-_-Product">PNY</a> stuck to the reference design, so the clock remains at the reference 1127/1178 MHz ($209).</p><p>Finally,&nbsp;ASUS has a single factory-overclocked model, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121913&amp;cm_re=asus_strix_960-_-14-121-913-_-Product">Strix GeForce GTX 960</a>, featuring clock speeds of 1253/1317 MHz ($209).</p> Tour a virtual Paris apartment in stunning Unreal Engine 4 tech demohttp://www.pcgamer.com/tour-a-virtual-paris-apartment-in-stunning-unreal-engine-4-tech-demo/We'll always have Paris.Tue, 27 Jan 2015 20:54:25 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/tour-a-virtual-paris-apartment-in-stunning-unreal-engine-4-tech-demo/NewsUnreal Engine <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rf045VYP3z4?vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> Great graphics do not necessarily make for a great game, but they do make for an awfully impressive virtual tour through a beautiful Parisian apartment. Like this one, for instance, created by Benoit Dereau, a "CG generalist and level designer," who said it's his first work in the Unreal Engine 4.</p><p> Obviously we're still a bit away from playing 60 FPS games at this level of visual fidelity, and Dereau said on the <a href="http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?t=147851">Polycount forums</a> that "optimization was not the center of my work with this scene." But the texture quality, reflective surfaces, and lighting effects are spectacular, and even more remarkable is that it can all be generated with a standard-spec PC and a <a href="https://www.unrealengine.com/what-is-unreal-engine-4">low-cost engine</a>.</p><p> The actual demo isn't currently available; Dereau had released it but took it down earlier today to fix some bugs. An updated build is expected to be available tomorrow at <a href="http://www.benoitdereau.com/unrealparis.html">BenoitDereau.com</a>. Thanks,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=980498">NeoGAF</a>.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6_0hRcSyTKmt.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Bv3LI8FmDgJE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Unreal Paris"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/D0B4vVJgSoKN.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Z16IXxYi2-RO.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Unreal Paris"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/OPpQoUKmS2uN.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3pWxAjAR22ZB.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Unreal Paris"></p> Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel update causing crasheshttp://www.pcgamer.com/borderlands-the-pre-sequel-update-causing-crashes/The update was released today alongside the Lady Hammerlock DLC pack.Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:45:06 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/borderlands-the-pre-sequel-update-causing-crashes/Borderlands: The Pre-SequelFPSGearboxNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/OQDuTdHPQhiB.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/jcb-7RHWQqBF.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Lady Hammerlock DLC"></p><p>Gearbox says the most recent update to <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/borderlands-the-pre-sequel-review/">Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel</a>, which launched today alongside the Lady Hammerlock DLC pack, has an "unforeseen issue" that's causing the game to crash for some players. </p><p>The problem occurs when players put three items of purple rarity into the Grinder, which "has the potential to cause a crash," Gearbox wrote in a <a href="https://gearboxsoftware.zendesk.com/entries/62463260">Knowledge Base notification</a>. The studio is working on a fix, and in the meantime it recommends that you use the Grinder at your own risk, although I think the wiser recommendation would be to just avoid using it at all until the patch is out the door.</p><p>The update, unfortunately, is automatic, and required for online play and access to the Lady Hammerlock DLC. You can avoid it, however, if you're prepared to do without those things by putting Steam into offline mode before you play&mdash;not the most elegant solution ever, but hopeful also a very temporary one. Gearbox said it will post information about a fix on the Knowledge Base as soon as it confirms that the problem has been&nbsp;solved.</p> Hearthstone's Undertaker nerfed at lasthttp://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstones-undertaker-nerfed-at-last/Oh goody!Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:26:42 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstones-undertaker-nerfed-at-last/BlizzardCard GameHearthstoneNews <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Uh8V0TDtRQaU.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mtNG2Zlwfge1.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Undertaker"></p><p> Hearthstone players will soon be bringing out less of their dead, as Blizzard today confirmed plans to nerf Undertaker, one of the game's most&nbsp;hated minions. A forthcoming patch will alter the minion’s card text from “Whenever you summon a minion with Deathrattle gain +1/+1” to “Whenever you summon a minion with Deathrattle, gain +1 Attack”.</p><p> To non-‘stoners that might sound a minor change, but the fact its health won’t continue to swell as additional Deathrattle cards get played will have a huge impact. Undertaker had become an oppressive staple in aggressive Deathrattle-based decks, forcing every opponent to have some way of answering a perfect Undertaker opening or risk being blown away after a few turns.</p><p> Here’s Blizzard community manager Zeriyah&nbsp; <a href="http://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/forum/topic/15700587539">explaining</a> why they felt the need to make the change:</p><p> “Undertaker was frustrating to play against. It often gained both Attack and Health stats significantly above those of other inexpensive minions very early in the game. With this change, we expect Undertaker will still be better than other 1-Mana minions when played in a deck with a Deathrattle theme, but more likely to die in combat against other minions.”</p><p> In truth the news is no surprise. Undertaker decks were brutally dominant before the December release of the Goblins vs Gnomes expansion, and although new cards like&nbsp; <a href="http://www.hearthpwn.com/cards/12239-lil-exorcist">Lil’ Exorcist</a> were designed to operate as a direct countermeasure, Undertaker remained pretty much exactly as strong.</p><p> In our&nbsp; <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/explosive-hearthstone-goblins-vs-gnomes-interview/#page-3">interview</a> with senior games designer Ben Brode after the release of the new cards&nbsp;it was clear Undertaker was already at the top of Blizzard’s balance watchlist. Now, with the metagame failing to come up with an adequate response, the developer has intervened.</p><p> As my colleague and fellow Hearthstone devotee Tom Marks noted when we discussed the change this morning, there’s likely a deeper motivation for the nerf. Undertaker’s powerful synergy with Deathrattle cards meant that any new ones created would also increase Undertaker’s potential value exponentially. It’s much the same situation Starving Buzzard found itself in. Then,&nbsp;Blizzard couldn’t make new cheap beasts without buffing the Buzzard’s already overpowered ability into the bargain. In the end both cards felt the force of the nerfhammer.&nbsp;</p><p> In terms of whether or not it’s a fair change, I think it feels about right. A 2-health Undertaker is manageable for all classes, but if buffed the card will still get work done in terms of trading up with higher value minions. It just won’t be an auto-win card&nbsp;when you get the dream start. Certainly, this was exactly the change many high profile players have been calling for. I asked Hearthstone streamer and Magic: The Gathering hall of famer&nbsp; <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/bmkibler">Brian Kibler</a> for his thoughts: “I've felt like Undertaker was a problem card for a long time, since it snowballs games so hard starting on turn one,” he told me. “I’m glad it's gone.”</p><p> It might not be gone entirely, but it is probably just a glorified&nbsp; <a href="http://www.hearthpwn.com/cards/12179">Cogmaster</a> now. Note that because Undertaker was acquired via the Curse of Naxxramas adventure it’s classed as ‘soulbound’, meaning you won’t be able to disenchant it for bonus dust. However, if you have a golden version, you'll be able to disenchant that for full&nbsp;value&mdash;400 dust. Perhaps you could put it&nbsp;towards a new legendary? We’ve got a list of the 20 best, as picked by pros,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-the-20-best-legendary-cards/">here</a>.&nbsp;</p><p> As for what’ll be nerfed next, I imagine&nbsp; <a href="http://www.hearthpwn.com/cards/12182-dr-boom">Dr Boom</a> is laughing a little more nervously now.&nbsp;</p> Stranded Deep impressions: is this island survival any different?http://www.pcgamer.com/stranded-deep-early-access-impressions/Survival crafting on an island chain. But is there anything new here?Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/stranded-deep-early-access-impressions/AdventureBeam Team GamesStranded Deep <figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QvZjoDfPScCp.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/i5WWLunjDLun.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Stranded Deep" class=""><figcaption>It's half-past starve o'clock already?</figcaption></figure><p> Whenever a new survival crafting game pops up, I have the same thought: aren't we tired of these yet? The mix of scrounging, crafting, cooking, eating, hunting, being hunted, and&nbsp;dying? Breaking trees into logs and logs into sticks and sticks into tools while managing health and hunger and thirst and exploring a procedurally generated world... haven't we done that? Like, a lot?</p><p> <a href="http://beamteamgames.com/stranded-deep/">Stranded Deep</a> was released on Steam&nbsp;Early Access on Friday, January 23rd, and at the time I played it,&nbsp;it&nbsp;was sitting at number three on the Steam Top Sellers list. Clearly, many of&nbsp;us aren't&nbsp;tired of survival crafting games yet, or maybe we're just all hoping to find one that's&nbsp;doing things a little differently.</p><p> This one certainly&nbsp;doesn't start differently. Just like The Forest, Stranded Deep begins with a plane crash. Unlike The Forest, the island you wind up stranded on is tiny and not inhabited by naked cannibals, though sharks&mdash;the naked cannibals of the deep&mdash;patrol the waters offshore. Once you've paddled to land, you begin gathering sticks and stones to make axes and hammers, chop down&nbsp;trees for firewood and shelter, and search for foods such as&nbsp;potato plants, fish (hunted with a spear),&nbsp;and&nbsp;crabs. There's no HUD: to see your stats you can glance at your wristwatch which shows your health, hunger, and thirst.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/DUlTBvyLQ6Gj.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/4gDDxnNEymVX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Stranded Deep" class=""><figcaption>You can't build a house in your pockets. Gotta use the ground.</figcaption></figure><p> Crafting isn't done in an inventory pane but on the ground in front of you, similar to another Early Access game,&nbsp; <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/tug-review-early-access/">TUG</a>. Drop stuff into a pile and an icon notifies you if something can be crafted. This method is a bit more realistic than a crafting window, I suppose, but it comes at the cost of convenience, and coupled with the lengthier act of going through your inventory and manually dropping items on the ground just to find out&nbsp;if you <em>can </em>make something, I'm not sure it's entirely worth it.</p><p> The procedurally generated islands of Stranded Deep are small and nondescript. There are shipwrecks as well, sometimes beneath the waves, sometimes right on the island, usually&nbsp;with a few lockers and crates to search. Once I found a highly useful machete, another time I came away with a flare gun. I found part of an engine and an empty&nbsp;jerry can, hinting that there may be ways build more complex watercraft.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vuTmfIzXRUqP.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cpDY-2KMtZdU.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Stranded Deep" class=""><figcaption>Home sweet home.&nbsp;Now to build that coconut radio.</figcaption></figure><p> Cooking is tricky in that you need to physically hold your food&nbsp;in the campfire for a certain period of time, and after doing it a dozen times I still don't know how long that is. I let the sizzling sounds recycle and replay several times and 'crab' never became 'cooked crab.'&nbsp;I ate several; sometimes I got sick, sometimes I didn't. Consuming three fish was fine, but a fourth&nbsp;made me vomit and break out in a rash.&nbsp;As usual, much more emphasis is put on food than water, which always feels backwards to me. In reality, lack of water will kill you long before lack of food will, and like most games of this sort, the food meter in Stranded Deep is the priority because it depletes so quickly.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/M72MxC6bRIG2.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zL9MKlg_byiu.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Stranded Deep" class=""><figcaption>I cooked a mudcrab the other day. Tasty creatures.</figcaption></figure><p> The biggest problems come with traveling to new islands. In all my games, I had to leave my starter island soon after arriving due to lack of usable materials, specifically stones. Since stones are used for so many different things like axes, hammers, spears,&nbsp;and firepits (which allow you to leave something cooking in the fire&nbsp;rather than holding it there), I found myself constantly in need of more. There were very few to be found, and there's currently no way to bash boulders into stones, so you can't make your own. So,&nbsp;I paddled my raft towards&nbsp;the nearest island, which doesn't really work the way it should.</p><p> The map is broken into small zones (a visible white line drawn through the water is hard to miss) and entering a new zone seems to re-render everything. The nearby island I was headed for suddenly appeared much further away, and two more islands suddenly appeared that seemed just as distant. As I drew closer and paddled through more zones, other islands abruptly appeared in other directions, even behind me. By the time I reached the island I was headed for, I couldn't even tell which island I'd left. This feels like a big problem. If the open world lacks consistency, establishing a home base&nbsp;and finding it again later is going to be annoyingly difficult. With such a tiny inventory (eight slots that can only hold stacks of four)&nbsp;you're often forced to leave some&nbsp;gear behind at your base while venturing out.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1lJAeFpBQnas.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rYXAsc_C24Ww.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Stranded Deep" class=""><figcaption>Which of those three identical&nbsp;smudges was I headed for?</figcaption></figure><p> Another problem with travel&nbsp;is related to the raft itself. After my third island, the raft became stuck in the water and would only spin in circles when I paddled, and even dragging&nbsp;it to a new spot wouldn't get it to move when I started paddling. I eventually climbed off and built a raft out of logs, but when paddling it into a new zone it abruptly vanished, leaving me to swim the rest of the way. This happened again after leaving the next island on yet another crafted raft, only this time it happened in the middle of the night and I was&nbsp;plopped into the water next to a great white shark that&nbsp;chewed me to bits.</p><p> Most of my deaths came as the results of bugs. You will automatically climb trees if you walk near them, meaning that&nbsp;while rushing around I often found myself climbing halfway up a tree&nbsp;trunk without intending to, leading to a couple of nasty falls at low health. Climbing into a shipwreck on one island, I dropped through a hatch into the hull and couldn't climb back out, forcing me to abandon what had been a fruitful start. I expect bugs like this in an alpha, and I expect they'll eventually&nbsp;be fixed. This is just a warning to potential&nbsp;early adopters&nbsp;that there are many.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xkVcvI6RSd-q.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_J4gWjiehcr4.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Stranded Deep" class=""><figcaption>I have one knife, he's got a mouth&nbsp;full of 'em. Think I'll stay here.</figcaption></figure><p> Despite all&nbsp;the bugs and&nbsp;the annoyances of ocean travel,&nbsp;it's still&nbsp;an attractive world to inhabit for a few hours&nbsp;and I'd be interested in returning once the major issues have been addressed. In games like this I&nbsp;tend to initially enjoy the busywork of gathering resources and building shelters, but if there's not much more added soon I can see it getting old in a hurry. At this early stage I can't really see anything that sets Stranded Deep apart from other&nbsp;survival crafting games, except that you won't be attacked by cannibals, animals, or monsters while trying to build your shack. I'm not sure that's enough, though,&nbsp;and&nbsp;I hope it finds a few more&nbsp;ways to stand out.&nbsp;Stranded Deep is available&nbsp; <a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/313120/" target="_blank">on Steam Early Access</a>.</p> CD Projekt says it's "making a statement" with free Witcher 3 DLChttp://www.pcgamer.com/cd-projekt-says-its-making-a-statement-with-free-witcher-3-dlc/Co-founder says gamers who spent a lot of money on a game shouldn't have to fork over even more for small pieces of content.Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:40:21 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/cd-projekt-says-its-making-a-statement-with-free-witcher-3-dlc/CD ProjektMarcin IwinskiNewsRPGThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_mkFeLPiQ32l.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1GGVM3DKca-e.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt 7"></p><p>CD Projekt Red announced in November plans to release 16 pieces of DLC for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-will-include-16-free-dlc-releases/">at no charge</a>. Nothing too big&mdash;horse armor (seriously), alternate beards and hairstyles, that sort of thing&mdash;but according to&nbsp;co-founder and CEO Marcin Iwiński, enough to make&nbsp;a "statement" against the trend toward high-priced, low-content DLC.</p><p>"We, as gamers, would like to be treated this way, 'Hey, give me free DLC.' It doesn't have to be something huge," Iwiński told <a href="http://ca.ign.com/articles/2015/01/26/the-witcher-3-dev-on-making-a-stand-against-paid-dlc">IGN</a>. "And I'm saying we aren't giving out huge stuff, we aren't giving tens of hours of storyline here, we are giving small bits of pieces that don't cost a lot. And I think people would feel better about our game, and so they will enjoy the adventure even more."</p><p>Obviously, there are some practical benefits to this approach as well. CD Projekt enjoys enviable levels of goodwill among gamers thanks largely to its very vocal, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/cd-projekt-red-co-founder-touts-fan-support-and-loyalty-as-business-strategy/">"pro-gamer" approach</a> to matters like DRM and regional pricing, and Iwiński expressed hope that the free DLC will have a direct and positive impact on the fortunes of The Witcher 3 as well. </p><p>"Maybe the ones who thought about pirating would not pirate it,” he said. “Maybe the ones who wanted to trade it back and get something else will keep it on the shelf. That'd be great, I would like this to happen and if not that's fine as well. I hope they'll have fun.” </p><p>The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt won't be out until May 19, but you can have a look at our hands-on impressions <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-hands-on-my-god-its-full-of-bears/">right now</a>. Beware:&nbsp;bears!</p> Show Us Your Rig: Hyper Light Drifter's Alex Prestonhttp://www.pcgamer.com/show-us-your-rig-hyper-light-drifters-alex-preston/Alex Preston, creator of Hyper Light Drifter at Heart Machine, shows us what he uses to work and play.Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:19:10 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/show-us-your-rig-hyper-light-drifters-alex-preston/Hyper Light Driftershow us your rig <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udnW5TNNRBK-.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Am0keBqg9N4h.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Alex Preston 2"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Show us your rig</h5> <p> Each week&nbsp;on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/show-us-your-rig/" target="_blank">Show Us Your Rig</a>, we feature PC gaming's best and brightest as they show us the systems they use to work and play. </p> </div><p>Alex Preston, creator of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hyper-light-drifter/" target="_blank">Hyper Light Drifter</a> at Heart Machine, has two setups at the same desk so he can quickly switch between what he is working on. Preston has a Macbook he uses with a Cintiq, before switching to his PC for Hyper Light Drifter's level editor. Though I would've liked to know more about the dog that's blending into the photo above, Preston was kind enough to tell us about his rig and what he's playing right now.&nbsp;</p><h4>What's in your PC?</h4><ul> <li>CPU: Core i7 (first gen)</li><li>Motherboard: Asus board</li><li>Storage: 256 gig Samsung SSD for the main drive, 500 gig Samsung SSD as storage</li><li>RAM: 8GB</li><li>Radeon HD 6950 2GB (I know, I need something new)</li><li>Case: Old beat up Lancool</li><li>Keyboard and mouse: Corsair K65 (love mechanical keyboards) + Logitech MX 518 (best mouse I've used, still kicking after all these years)</li><li>OS: Running good old Windows 7</li><li>Monitor: First gen (and best!) 30 inch Dell monitor.</li></ul><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/66-ZR5bXRoyk.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Dhucmfnf_Oh-.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Alex Preston 1"></p><h4> What's the most interesting/unique part of your setup?</h4><p> I use a Macbook with a Cintiq attached for my art and design work (the workflow is much more pleasant for Adobe products on Mac, for me at least.) I then move over to the PC to work in our editor and build levels. It's been surprisingly efficient.</p><h4> What's always within arm's reach on your desk?</h4><p> Headphones and water. I need to shut noise out at times to focus, and I always forget to drink if a bottle isn't staring me in the face.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/47e41Cn0RSG4.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/W2MAAnxYZJ_d.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Alex Preston 3"></p><h4> What are you playing right now?</h4><p> I'm replaying Dark Souls and Ocarina of Time. Also Smash Bros every day at the studio. Luftrausers before bed.</p><h4> What's your favorite game and why?</h4><p> A toss up between Ocarina of Time, Fallout 3 and Super Mario RPG. These games, while very different, all stunned me on the first play-through. Each has a world, story, tone and/or aesthetic that gripped me and felt magical at the time.</p> PC's most relaxing gameshttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-most-relaxing-games-on-pc/Stress-busting games to soothe your soul.Tue, 27 Jan 2015 17:23:45 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-most-relaxing-games-on-pc/Gallery 868-HACK arrives on Steam, has great trailerhttp://www.pcgamer.com/868-hack-arrives-on-steam-has-great-trailer/Hacking roguelike questions your proclivity for torrenting handbags.Tue, 27 Jan 2015 16:47:25 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/868-hack-arrives-on-steam-has-great-trailer/868-HackMichael BroughNewsRoguelike <p>Relax, dear reader, and enjoy the best new&nbsp;trailer you will see today.</p><p>It's the launch trailer for 868-Hack, Michael Brough's hacking roguelike. The game has finally&nbsp;made the jump from iOS to Steam, and to celebrate, this excellent video now exists.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/OMH-yDR35lI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Pro-tip: parodying <em>that </em>anti-piracy trailer is always funny.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuxO6CZptck" target="_blank">Always</a>.</p><p>868-Hack is a game where you steal data, using the programs you collect as abilities to take down the system's defences. It started life as the free 7DRL prototype&nbsp;<a href="http://mightyvision.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/7drl-success-86856527.html" target="_blank">86856527</a>. This paid-for&nbsp;<a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/274700/" target="_blank">Steam version</a> makes&nbsp;<a href="http://868-hack.neocities.org/changes.html" target="_blank">numerous changes and additions</a> to both individual programs and core mechanics. It's difficult, but then, it's a roguelike from the developer of&nbsp;<a href="http://mightyvision.blogspot.co.nz/2012/12/corrypt.html" target="_blank">Corrypt</a>. Of course it's difficult.</p> Brutal Doom v20 footage shows yet more gorehttp://www.pcgamer.com/brutal-doom-v20-footage-shows-yet-more-gore/It's got more blood than Blood.Tue, 27 Jan 2015 15:48:45 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/brutal-doom-v20-footage-shows-yet-more-gore/Brutal DoomDoomFPSModsNews <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/adUHAOokpxk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Brutal Doom is always an entertaining watch, and so a few minutes of the upcoming v20 version could be just the thing to liven up this drab&nbsp;Tuesday afternoon.*</p><p>Not all of the changes you see are related to Brutal Doom. Here, it's being tested on Freedoom, hence the different textures and assets. This new version of the Brutal Doom mod is being designed to be compatible with mods that use custom graphics.</p><p>In the video you can see v20's new kill animations, and the extra zombie rotation sprites based on the assets&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/john-romero-shows-unseen-doom-art-on-21st-anniversary/" target="_blank">John Romero tweeted</a> during Doom's anniversary. This video's description also teases an official release date and trailer for v20, both of which should be arriving in the near future.</p><p>For more, head over to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.moddb.com/mods/brutal-doom/news/brutal-doom-news-on-january" target="_blank">Brutal Doom's ModDB page</a>. I recently picked out some recommendations for other great Doom mods.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/why-i-love-doom-wads/" target="_blank">Head here for them</a>.</p><p><em>*Please replace time and state of&nbsp;drabness according to current location.</em></p> Valve's economist is Greece's new finance ministerhttp://www.pcgamer.com/valves-former-economist-is-now-greeces-finance-minister/Yanis Varoufakis, Valve's former economist-in-residence, is Greek's radical new finance minister.Tue, 27 Jan 2015 12:56:59 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/valves-former-economist-is-now-greeces-finance-minister/NewsTeam Fortress 2 <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/f7PoUQo6Qka5.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/JZu1JOiL0vKu.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="2013 07 19 05 42 39"></p><p>Valve is pretty much an unknowable obelisk: giant, powerful and unfeelingly silent. Due to this absence of communication, the&nbsp;few voices that do emerge from the studio are amplified ten-fold. Hence why you may recognise the name&nbsp;Yanis Varoufakis. During his time as Valve's economist-in-residence, he&nbsp;<a href="http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/category/economics/" target="_blank">ran a blog</a> dedicated to analysing and explaining the studio's virtual economies.</p><p>Now, Varoufakis has a new job. He's today been named Greece's finance minister.</p><p>Varoufakis was at Valve from 2012-2013. Despite not playing games, he said in his introductory post that he was fascinated by the virtual economy Valve had built&mdash;specifically that it was an economy&nbsp;with hard data for every transaction. "Think of it: An economy where every action leaves a digital trail, every transaction is recorded;" he wrote at the time.&nbsp;"Indeed, an economy where we do not need statistics since we have all the data!"</p><p>Through Varoufakis's analysing, we learned how&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/valveconomics-why-we-gift/" target="_blank">gifting played a part</a> in TF2's economy, how a sophisticated&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/buy-low-sell-high-in-team-fortress-2s-peculiarly-sophisticated-barter-economy/" target="_blank">bartering and arbitration formed</a> around trades, and how Valve&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/valve-dont-even-fire-people-like-a-normal-company-varoufakis-on-hiring-and-firing/" target="_blank">doesn't even fire people</a> like a normal company.</p><p>Varoufakis's role as finance minister is quite a departure from&nbsp;the academic study of non-existent&nbsp;headwear. Greece was hard-hit by the economic crisis, leading to a debt crisis that has resulted in high unemployment and bankruptcy. Varoufakis himself is seen as a radical&mdash;one who has&nbsp;referred to austerity measures as "fiscal waterboarding".</p><p>That, though, is the purview of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/27/greek-pm-alexis-tsipras-economist-yanis-varoufakis" target="_blank">serious political reporters</a>. As a videogame&nbsp;reporter, I feel it's my responsibility to do something dumb. Here, then, is a series of suggestions&nbsp;Varoufakis could take from his days at&nbsp;Valve that would instantly, definitely,&nbsp;fix Greece's economy.</p><ul><li>Randomly give&nbsp;<a href="https://wiki.teamfortress.com/wiki/Holy_Mackerel" target="_blank">a fish on a stick</a> to citizens as they go about their day. Also, sometimes&nbsp;<a href="https://wiki.teamfortress.com/wiki/Flipped_Trilby" target="_blank">a&nbsp;trilby</a>.</li><li>If you set a hat&nbsp;<a href="https://wiki.teamfortress.com/w/images/a/ad/Unusual_Burning_Flames.png?t=20130104144314" target="_blank">on fire</a> it is worth more money. Because reasons.</li><li>All trade will now be based on&nbsp;the conversion rate: Two Refined = Stout Shako.</li><li>The most valuable thing you can own is now a&nbsp;<a href="https://wiki.teamfortress.com/wiki/Max%27s_Severed_Head" target="_blank">decapitated rabbit's head</a>.</li><li>Abolish physical crop exports. Switch to digital :weed: exports. They're&nbsp;<a href="http://steamcommunity.com/market/listings/753/205610-%3Aweed%3A" target="_blank">worth more</a>.</li><li>The Trojan Horse, but with Crates.</li><li>Make Half-Life 3</li></ul> American Truck Simulator devs release an hour of alpha footagehttp://www.pcgamer.com/american-truck-simulator-devs-release-an-hour-of-alpha-footage/Watch, enraptured, asa tractor is driven to Fresno. Can you handle this excitement?Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:28:48 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/american-truck-simulator-devs-release-an-hour-of-alpha-footage/American Truck SimulatorEuro Truck Simulator 2NewsSCS Softwaresim <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/aJpORRwOTpCR.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/DHkvmdvk4_zf.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="American Truck Simulator"></p><p>Sometimes I worry that my love of Euro Truck Simulator 2 is&nbsp;misconstrued by those who've never played it as some gimmicky affectation. It's not; it's genuinely great. Rather than the undulating pace of some high-action shooter, ETS2 is a constant low-level challenge. You have to obey the rules of the road, maintain balance between speed and controllability, and negotiate&nbsp;motorway junctions. And that's all before each delivery's final boss: reverse parking into the cargo space.&nbsp;</p><p>It's a very calming game, but it's also an unnerving one. It's a battle between relaxation and the fact you're driving a giant metal battering ram.</p><p>None of this comes across in the medium of video, which is a shame&nbsp;because&nbsp;SCS has released an hour of alpha footage from their&nbsp;ETS2 follow-up American Truck Simulator. At one point, a trucker delivers a tractor to Fresno. Exciting, no?</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/qSUKlmqBJYQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Look, if you're not visibly shaking at the prospect of delivering 38,600 lb of peas to Los Angeles, then frankly I don't know what to say.</p><p>As SCS reminds viewers over at&nbsp;<a href="http://blog.scssoft.com/" target="_blank">their blog</a>: "American Truck Simulator is still very much under development and features and environments may change prior to the official release."</p> Grim Fandango Remastered reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/grim-fandango-remastered-review/A PC gaming classic that will never die.Tue, 27 Jan 2015 10:57:14 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/grim-fandango-remastered-review/AdventureGrim Fandango RemasteredReviews <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">NEED TO KNOW</h5> <p> <strong>What is it?</strong> A touched-up re-release of LucasArt's 1998 adventure game about a travel salesman in the land of the dead.<br> <strong>Influenced by.</strong> Film noir<br> <strong>Reviewed on:</strong> i5 quad 3GHZ CPU, GTX970 GPU, 16GB RAM.<br> <strong>Alternatively: </strong>Full Throttle<br> <strong>Copy protection: </strong>Steam/GOG<br> <strong>Release: </strong>January 27 2015<br> <strong>Developer:</strong> LucasArts, Double Fine<br> <strong>Publisher: </strong>Double Fine<br> <strong>Link:</strong> www.doublefine.com<br> </p> </div><p> You are Manuel Calavera, a hispanic Humphrey Bogart tasked with selling travel packages to souls passing through the land of the dead. You work for a firm of skeletal salesmen who travel to the land of the living in cowls to reap new clients, but something's crooked. Saintly souls who ought to qualify for fast-track tickets on the Number Nine train are being cheated and forced to attempt the gruelling four-year walk through the land of the dead&nbsp;alone. When this fate befalls the angelic Meche Colomar, Manny can stand by no longer. The conspiracy must be undone. Objects must be clicked on. Inventories must be filled. Puzzles must be solved.</p><p> Grim Fandango's setup is as exciting today as it was in 1998 when LucasArts was at its peak. Its status as a technical achievement has faded since, but&nbsp;the humour still cuts, the performances still shine and Grim&nbsp;Fandango's vision of the afterlife still stirs the imagination. The art mixes film noir and Mexican Day of the Dead iconography with Aztec and Egyptian influences in strange and beautiful ways, and while the remastered version does little to improve on the hazy 3:4 ratio backdrops&mdash;the widescreen mode merely stretches the image to fit your screen&mdash;the vision alone makes the journey worthwhile.</p><p> It's disappointing that the backgrounds haven't had a retouch, but not unexpected, and the&nbsp;rest of the remaster is good. The 3D models have been faithfully retextured, and look much better at modern resolutions thanks to revamped lighting in every scene (you can switch between the original models and the remastered versions in the menus). Characters cast long shadows across the static old backgrounds, which give the streets of Rubacava extra film noir cred. An optional point-and-click interface fixes the original's glaring control issues, and there's an optional director's commentary that lets you trigger anecdotes in most scenes. I'd only wish for a three things:&nbsp;autosaves,&nbsp;a replacement for the laborious inventory system and a hint system.</p><p> Without in-game hints, I'd advise that you have a good walkthrough an alt-tab away. If this is your first Grim Fandango playthrough, enjoyment will depend heavily on your tolerance for outdated adventure game design. The old-school adventure game format is a great delivery system for jokes and inventive worlds, but it means grappling with puzzles puzzles that are boring or illogical, often both.</p><p> Grim Fandango has some real stinkers. When trapped in the engine room of a boat, your first instinct probably&nbsp;wouldn't be to use the ship's anchors to tear the ship in half so your half can fly off into the sunset. That is something that could never happen, but that's the leap of logic Grim Fandango demands. Likewise you may work out that the flaming bone beavers of the petrified forest need to be extinguished with your fire extinguisher, but the idea of throwing a bone so you can extinguish them as they dive fatally into a tar lake isn't likely to occur. Why does being on fire stop them from sinking in tar?</p><p> Grim is rife with puzzles like those. There are sections&mdash;the petrified forest is a case in point&mdash;that should be skipped through as quickly as possible. While it may seem strange to recommend cheating your way through&nbsp;elements that make the game challenging, but the joy of Grim Fandango lies elsewhere, in the world, and the wit of its inhabitants.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/FJL8-lJ6RCWY.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WCSuwZ2MqJI5.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Grim Fandango 6"></p><p> It's rare that a game compels me to exhaust every last line of enquiry with every character. Grim Fandango's dialogue trees are little treasure chests that dispense gags, movie references and sudden poignant moments with outstanding generosity. It's brilliantly funny (in a grotty hotel bar skeletons in turtlenecks and berets improvise revolutionary poetry. "ah, Deadbeats!" Manny quips), but it's sad also. Even with a clean state Grim's citizens trap themselves with freshly invented baggage. They chase fame,&nbsp;money and influence out of sheer force of habit.&nbsp;Their purgatory is self-imposed. Grim Fandango's blend of comedy and fatalism is best embodied by Membrillo, the coroner who tends to 'sprouted' victims in Rubacava's morgue&mdash;"We may have years, we may have hours, but sooner or later, we push up flowers."</p><p> If it had been technically possible at the time, I can imagine Grim being the Jazzpunk of its day, a series of quips and scenes linked by moments of cute interaction. As it is the puzzles provide a bit of friction to expose you to each location. Absorb the ambience. Drink it in. The poor puzzles have eroded the score, but you're getting a PC gaming great for £11 / $15. May this classic never die.</p> Here's 15 minutes of Witcher 3: Wild Hunt footagehttp://www.pcgamer.com/heres-15-minutes-of-witcher-3-wild-hunt-footage/Griffins are sighted,propositions are proposed, and Geralt takes a bath.Tue, 27 Jan 2015 10:34:45 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/heres-15-minutes-of-witcher-3-wild-hunt-footage/CD ProjektNewsRPGThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/BgJUL3nN4iI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>If you're struggling to cope with the four month wait until The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's release, maybe this fifteen minute montage of game footage can soothe the ache. It's got a sequence in which Geralt takes a bath before discussing the political intricacies of a beard. That should&nbsp;keep you strong for another month, at least.</p><p>Tom, the jammy sod that he is, has played a big ol' chunk of this most Witchiest of Witcher games. You can read his hands-on impressions&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-hands-on-my-god-its-full-of-bears/" target="_blank">right here</a>.</p> Minecraft is already making lots of money for Microsoft http://www.pcgamer.com/minecraft-is-already-making-lots-of-money-for-microsoft/First-party software sales increase 79 per cent.Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:32:52 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/minecraft-is-already-making-lots-of-money-for-microsoft/MicrosoftMinecraftMojangNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7K_J-3A_QuCQ.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/sAPiHex0CEK3.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Minecraft"></p><p>No one would argue that Microsoft's<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/mojang-confirm-sale-to-microsoft-for-2-5-billion-notch-and-other-founders-to-leave/"> $2.5 billion Mojang&nbsp;acquisition</a> was a bad business decision, but the results so far are staggering. According to the company's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/789019/000119312515020351/d827041d10q.htm">second quarter fiscal report</a>, ending December 2014, first-party video game revenues were up <em>79 per cent</em>–mostly thanks to Minecraft.&nbsp;</p><p>That's a $171 million increase,&nbsp;attributed in part&nbsp;to a six-year-old phenomenon. While Xbox exclusive&nbsp;titles Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Forza Horizon 2 also played a role, there's no question that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/minecraft/">Minecraft</a> is already making Microsoft big money.</p><p>It comes as no surprise, since Minecraft is still selling at an astonishingly rapid rate:&nbsp;<a href=" https://minecraft.net/stats">18,301,925 people have bought the game</a> on PC and Mac alone, while at the time of writing&nbsp;10,552 have purchased in the last 24 hours. Those stats don't count purchases made on all other platforms including PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iOS and Android.</p><p>While it's good news for Microsoft, it's still unclear what the company's purchase means for the game and its community. So far Microsoft has exercised a conspicuously hands-off approach to the game, which is a sound strategy given its enduring success, and especially since the company expects to&nbsp;<a href="http://news.microsoft.com/2014/09/15/minecraft-to-join-microsoft/">break even</a> on the purchase during the 2015 fiscal year.&nbsp;</p><p>2015 looks set to be an important year for Microsoft: Windows 10 releases&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/windows-holographic-and-microsoft-hololens-announced/">late this year</a>, which will support the company's new&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/windows-holographic-and-microsoft-hololens-announced/">HoloLens technology</a>.&nbsp;</p> Valve bans seven CS:GO pro players from tournament play for match fixinghttp://www.pcgamer.com/valve-suspends-seven-csgo-pro-players-for-match-fixing/Seven players at the center of the fixed match between iBUYPOWER and NetcodeGuides.com have been banned from all future Valve-sponsored tournaments.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 23:56:02 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/valve-suspends-seven-csgo-pro-players-for-match-fixing/Counter-Strike: Global OffensiveE-sportsFPSNewsValve <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EFZeFSJ_Q8GV.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2_Nod0zb0tjf.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Galil"></p><p>Seven professional <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/counter-strike-global-offensive/">Counter-Strike: Global Offensive</a> players have been banned from Valve-sponsored events, including the upcoming ESL One Katowice. The bans come as the result of an August 2014 match between iBUYPOWER and NetcodeGuides.com, which has now been confirmed as having been fixed.</p><p>The allegations were <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/new-evidence-of-counter-strike-global-offensive-match-fixing/">detailed last week</a> by The Daily Dot, with evidence that included screen caps of current Cloud9 player Shahzeb "ShahZam" Khan acknowledging that he was given advance notice of the outcome. Players involved in the fix used "smurf accounts" to place high-value bets on the match through the CS:GO Lounge, according to the claims, which have now been substantiated by the powers that be at Valve.</p><p>"We can confirm, by investigating the historical activity of relevant accounts, that a substantial number of high valued items won from that match by Duc 'cud' Pham were transferred (via Derek 'dboorn' Boorn) to iBUYPOWER players and NetCodeGuides founder, Casey Foster," Valve wrote on the <a href="http://blog.counter-strike.net/index.php/2015/01/11261/">CS:GO blog</a>. "All together, the information we have collected and received makes us uncomfortable continuing any involvement with these individuals."</p><p>Seven players will be excluded from "participation in any capacity in Valve-sponsored events," according to the post:</p><ul> <li>Duc “cud” Pham</li><li>Derek “dboorn” Boorn</li><li>Casey Foster</li><li>Sam “Dazed” Marine</li><li>Braxton “swag” Pierce</li><li>Keven “AZK” Larivière</li><li>Joshua “Steel” Nissan </li></ul><p>Valve also laid out the ethical obligations of pro players, managers, and team staff, who "should under no circumstances gamble on CS:GO matches, associate with high volume CS:GO gamblers, or deliver information to others that might influence their CS:GO bets."</p><p>"As CS:GO grows, it’s important to consider the substantial impact an individual professional Counter-Strike player has on the health and stability of their sport," it wrote. "Performing before an audience of millions of fans, they are ambassadors for their game – the strength of professional Counter-Strike comes from the integrity of its players and teams."</p><p>The ESL, which recently announced a <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/valve-announces-250000-prize-pool-for-csgo-at-katowice-2015/">$250,000 prize pool</a> for the upcoming CS:GO Katowice 2015 tournament, <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/GlobalOffensive/comments/2tro2y/official_blog_post_fairplay_and_integrity/co1qiya">confirmed on Reddit</a> that it would uphold the ban. "Like the blog post said, none of these players will be able to participate or contribute in any other form to ESL One Katowice or future Majors run by us, and we are currently finalising our verdict regarding other ESL leagues and these players," ESL rep theflyingdj wrote. "We do not have any tolerance for match fixing, have always made clear in our rules that players are not to be involved with any kind of betting and will continue to work on a clean and fair competitive environment for CS:GO."</p><p>The ESEA has also <a href="http://play.esea.net/index.php?s=news&amp;d=comments&amp;id=14376">issued bans against the seven players in question</a>, saying that while the bans are currently set for one year, it reserves the right to extend them indefinitely. It noted that it has since implemented its own policy explicitly forbidding players, managers, and sponsors from betting on their own matches, adding, "We strongly encourage all organizations, regardless of their affiliation with Valve, to mirror and enforce these bans so that a clear message is sent&mdash;there is no place for match fixing in professional gaming."</p><p>The number of players affected by the ban is relatively small, but the severity of the punishment sends an unmistakable message that match fixing will not be tolerated. Given the growing popularity of professional CS:GO, and the ballooning value of purses attached to tournaments like Katowice, it's a welcome development&mdash;and, I'd say, long overdue.</p> This week’s PC gaming dealshttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-pc-gaming-deals/The best PC gaming deals of the week.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 23:41:32 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-pc-gaming-deals/DealsHardware <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PULBFWNXSiar.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1PBAHOzkjSLj.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="This week’s PC gaming deals" style="width: 668px;"></p><p>We like cheap PC components and accessories. But you know what we like even more? Expensive PC components and accessories that are on sale! We’ve partnered with the bargainmeisters at <a href="http://www.techbargains.com/">TechBargains</a> to bring you a weekly list of the best component, accessory, and software sales for PC gamers.</p><p>Some highlights this week: If you are in the market for a laptop, the HP ENVY 15t is $150 off. Seagate has a 4TB internal hybrid drive for nearly half-off, only $140. Dell has two monitors discounted, both with free shipping. Gamestop is having a deal on three Final Fantasy games, all 50% off. There are also a few good&nbsp;discounts on pre-orders, though we still feel strongly that you should wait for a&nbsp;game's reviews to make a final decision about buying it.&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Sb1EiqSTRwCB.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xogsAmxSJHmE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Hardware Deals" style="width: 668px;"></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>The <strong>HP ENVY 15t Slim 15” Laptop</strong> with a GTX 850M is <a href="http://click.linksynergy.com/deeplink?id=Es5Ekr9eEBk&amp;mid=38293&amp;murl=http%3A%2F%2Fstore.hp.com%2Fwebapp%2Fwcs%2Fstores%2Fservlet%2FPDPStdView%3FcatalogId%3D10051%26urlLangId%3D-1%26langId%3D-1%26productId%3D704658%26storeId%3D10151&amp;u1=0126pcgmrhyenvy">$749 on HP’s site</a> with the code <strong>15HPLOGICBUY</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>Alternatively, the <strong>Lenovo Z50 15” Laptop</strong> is <a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-227502-10499647?url=http%3A%2F%2Fshop.lenovo.com%2Fus%2Fen%2Flaptops%2Flenovo%2Fz-series%2Fz50%3Fsb%3D%3A000001C9%3A00012E33%3A%26AID%3D10499647%26PID%3D227502%26SID%3DF0120005A00C436898C0A01436898C96A01A0A0&amp;sid=0126_pcgmr_lenovoz50">$599 on Lenovo’s site</a> with the code <strong>USP156278</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong></strong>The <strong>WD My Book 6TB External Hard Drive</strong> is <a href="http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&amp;pub=5574654247&amp;toolid=10001&amp;campid=5337565262&amp;customid=0126_pcgmr_wd6tb&amp;ipn=psmain&amp;icep_vectorid=229466&amp;kwid=902099&amp;mtid=824&amp;kw=lg&amp;icep_item=321650866847">$199.99 on buydig’s ebay page</a> and comes with free shipping.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>The <strong>Seagate Backup Plus 8TB External Hard Drive</strong> is <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?nm_mc=AFC-TechBargains&amp;cm_mmc=AFC-TechBargains-_-0126_pcgmr_seagate8tb-_-NA-_-NA&amp;Item=N82E16822178682">$274.99 on Newegg</a> with free shipping when you checkout out with a Visa card and use the code <strong>VCOJAN25</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>The <strong>Seagate 4TB 3.5in Internal Hybrid HDD/SSD</strong> is over 40% off at <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?nm_mc=AFC-TechBargains&amp;cm_mmc=AFC-TechBargains-_-0126_pcgmr_seagate4tbhybrid-_-NA-_-NA&amp;Item=N82E16822178379">$139.99 on Newegg</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>A combo that includes the <strong>PNY Optima 240GB SSD</strong> AND an <strong>XLR8 8GB DDR3 RAM</strong> is <a href="http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=Es5Ekr9eEBk&amp;subid=1&amp;offerid=101304.1&amp;type=10&amp;tmpid=2405&amp;RD_PARM1=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tigerdirect.com%2Fapplications%2FSearchTools%2Fitem-details.asp%3FEdpNo%3D9559014&amp;u1=0126pcgmrpnyoptimacombo">$119.99 on TigerDirect</a> after two rebates and with the code <strong>AVO151984</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>The <strong>MSI Z87 MPOWER LGA 1150 ATX Motherboard</strong> is <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?nm_mc=AFC-TechBargains&amp;cm_mmc=AFC-TechBargains-_-0126_pcgmr_msiz87-_-NA-_-NA&amp;Item=N82E16813130751">$99.99 on Newegg</a> after a $30 rebate.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>The <strong>EVGA GTX 980 Video Card</strong> is <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?nm_mc=AFC-TechBargains&amp;cm_mmc=AFC-TechBargains-_-0126_pcgmr_evgagtx980-_-NA-_-NA&amp;Item=N82E16814487079">$524.99 on Newegg</a> after a $10 rebate when you checkout with a Visa card, and with the code <strong>VCOJAN25</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong></strong>The <strong>Thermaltake Commander G41 ATX Mid Tower Case</strong> is <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?nm_mc=AFC-TechBargains&amp;cm_mmc=AFC-TechBargains-_-0126_pcgmr_ttg41-_-NA-_-NA&amp;Item=N82E16811133253">$39.99 on Newegg</a> after a $25 rebate.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>The <strong>EVGA GTX 970 Video Card</strong> is <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?nm_mc=AFC-TechBargains&amp;cm_mmc=AFC-TechBargains-_-0126_pcgmr_gtx970-_-NA-_-NA&amp;Item=N82E16814487076">$309.99 on Newegg</a> after a $10 rebate when you checkout with a Visa card, and with the code <strong>VCOJAN25</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>The <strong>Dell UltraSharp U2415 24” 1920x1200 Monitor</strong> is <a href="http://bit.ly/1zk3lOX">$299.99 on Dell’s site</a>, and comes with free shipping.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong></strong>Alternatively, the <strong>Dell S2715H 27” LED Monitor</strong> is <a href="http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-227502-10422268?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.staples.com%2FDELL-S2715H-27-inch-LED-Monitor%2Fproduct_1381643?u1=0126pcgmrdells2715h">$199.99 on Staples’s site</a>, and comes with free shipping.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zH9aHn-LRL6I.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/b_1wP4rcanyg.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Game Deals" style="width: 668px; background-color: initial;"></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong>Reus</strong> is only <a href="http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-7511556-11190024?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.greenmangaming.com%2Fs%2Fus%2Fen%2Fpc%2Fgames%2Findie%2Freus%2F&amp;sid=0126_pcgmr_reus">$3.20 on Green Man Gaming</a> with the code <strong>20PERO-FFDIGI-GAMESX</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong>Alan Wake</strong> is <a href="http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-227502-10785950?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gamersgate.com%2FDD-ALANWAKE%2Falan-wake&amp;sid=0126_pcgmr_alanwake">$7.49 at GamersGate</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong>Escape Dead Island</strong> is <a href="http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-227502-10785950?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gamersgate.com%2FDD-EDI%2Fescape-dead-island&amp;sid=0126_pcgmr_escapedeadisland">$35.99 at GamersGate</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong>The Last Remnant</strong> is half off for <a href="http://click.linksynergy.com/deeplink?id=Es5Ekr9eEBk&amp;mid=24348&amp;murl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gamestop.com%2Fpc%2Fgames%2Fthe-last-remnant%2F107503?u1=0126pcgmrlastremnant">$4.99 at Gamestop’s site</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>Gamestop is having a bunch of Final Fantasy deals, with <strong>Final Fantasy VII </strong>for <a href="http://click.linksynergy.com/deeplink?id=Es5Ekr9eEBk&amp;mid=24348&amp;murl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gamestop.com%2Fpc%2Fgames%2Ffinal-fantasy-vii%2F110467?u1=0126pcgmrffvii">$5.99 online</a>, <strong>Final Fantasy VIII</strong> for <a href="http://click.linksynergy.com/deeplink?id=Es5Ekr9eEBk&amp;mid=24348&amp;murl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gamestop.com%2Fpc%2Fgames%2Ffinal-fantasy-viii%2F113241?u1=0126pcgmrffviii">$5.99 online</a>, and <strong>Final Fantasy XIII</strong> for <a href="http://click.linksynergy.com/deeplink?id=Es5Ekr9eEBk&amp;mid=24348&amp;murl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gamestop.com%2Fpc%2Fgames%2Ffinal-fantasy-xiii%2F117449?u1=0126pcgmrffxiii">$7.99 online</a>.</p><p>As usual, we aren’t fans of pre-orders and encourage you to wait to see our final review of a game before spending your hard earned money. However, there are a few highly anticipated titles with pre-order deals, so if you are&nbsp;steadfast in your dedication to buying one of the following games, who are we to deprive you of a deal?</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong>Dying Light</strong> is available <a href="http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-7511556-11190024?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.greenmangaming.com%2Fs%2Fus%2Fen%2Fpc%2Fgames%2Fshooter%2Fdying-light%2F&amp;sid=0126_pcgmr_dyinglight">$48 on Green Man Gaming</a> with the code <strong>20PERO-FFDIGI-GAMESX</strong> and comes out January 27th.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong>Total War: Attila</strong> for <a href="http://www.dlgamer.us/download-total_war_attila-pc_games-p-25404.html?affil=1929276855&amp;sid=0126_pcgmr_attila">$36.89 at DLGamer</a> and comes out on February 17th</p><p>For more tech deals, visit <a href="http://www.techbargains.com/">techbargains.com</a>.</p><p><em style="background-color: initial;">A note on affiliates: some of our stories, like this one, include affiliate links to online stores. These online stores share a small amount of revenue with us if you buy something through one of these links, which help support our work evaluating components and games.</em></p> The Marvellous Miss Take reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-marvellous-miss-take-review/A well-made stealth game that becomes tedious by the end.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 23:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-marvellous-miss-take-review/ReviewsStealthThe Marvellous Miss Take <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">need to know</h5> <p> <b style="background-color: initial;">What is it?</b> A clicky stealth game about stealing art and avoiding burly guards. <br> <strong>Price: </strong>$20 / £15 <br> <strong>Release date:</strong> Out now <br> <strong>Publisher:</strong> Rising Star Games <br> <strong>Developer:</strong> Wonderstruck <br> <strong>Reviewed on:</strong> Core i5-3570, 8GB RAM, GeForce GTX Titan <br> <strong>Play it on:</strong> Core i5, 4GB RAM, any modern video card <br> <strong>Multiplayer:</strong> None <br> <strong>Copy protection: </strong>Steam <br> <strong>Link:&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://misstakegame.com/" target="_blank">Official site</a> </p> </div><p> The Marvellous Miss Take is an efficient, adept stealth game, and I appreciate how effectively it creates challenging situations from simple systems. Even so, in the past week I’ve spent plodding through it I’ve found it stressful more often&nbsp;than enjoyable.</p><p> As one part&nbsp;of a trio of art thieves, the goal in each level is to slink through two floors of a gallery (viewed from above) stealing paintings and statues. Stealthiness is expressed simply: Guards have the genre’s typical poor peripheral vision, and can only see what’s in a blue triangle in front of them. If they spot you, they’ll become alarmed and investigate. If you stay within their field of vision for too long, they’ll charge and capture you.</p><p> To succeed, you have to become a poltergeist, letting the guards see and hear you just enough to lure them away from your path, but never so much that they recognize you. You can whistle or cough to attract them, run to make noise and move quickly (a primary function of running in the real world as well), let them spot you and investigate, and occasionally use tools such as a noisemaker or teleporter.</p><p> There are other obstacles, such as swiveling security cameras, dogs that follow your scent, and lasers, but it’s mostly familiar&nbsp;stealth stuff. What’s a bit atypical is that the guards aren’t automatons who march in short, predictable loops. These guys are aware that thieves tend not to be standing in only one of two directions, which is revelatory for video game guards.</p><p>Some of the guards stand still, but others wander around good portions of the level, which makes for a lot of quick thinking. My quick thinking, though, is pretty much limited to “I will hide over there now.” There’s not a lot to figure out in The Marvellous Miss Take, aside from the sometimes-annoying&nbsp;pathfinding. The default control scheme has me clicking on a destination to walk, and holding down the mouse button to run. It mostly works, but it’s occasionally frustrating when my character gets caught going around an obstacle in a direction I didn’t intend. It’s also frustrating how much I have to rely on the randomness of the guards' paths, which isn’t a reliable thing to rely on, and isn’t very fun to rely on. They’re the most interesting thing about The Marvellous Miss Take, but fooling them is hardly the most important skill: my success feels much more like the result of slow, careful movements and luck rather than tricky diversions.</p><p>The in-game hints urge me to use my powers of distraction rather than waiting for the guards to move, and I definitely used them successfully, but they just aren't powerful enough to be reliable. If I whistle to attract a guard, for instance, I have to be pretty close to him. Then I need to make sure there's a wall I can duck around so he doesn't see me, and after that I only have a few seconds while he's distracted to do what I need to do. Once he's done being alerted, there's a decent chance he'll just turn right back around. So, what did I accomplish that I wouldn't have accomplished by walking behind him?</p><p>The most fun I had was when I beat levels recklessly, leading the guards on a Benny Hill chase before popping through the exit in the nick of time. But playing like that becomes difficult early on when security cameras are introduced, and even more difficult when lasers are introduced. At that point, it just becomes tedious&mdash;failing because I ran into some dumb bystander who slowed me down and caused me to trip a laser alarm. Rather than lots of experimenting with the guards' AI and positioning, Miss Take increases the difficulty with traps that take advantage of an imprecise movement system.</p><p>The art also contributed to how quickly I tired of Miss Take. I love the style and it looks great (especially with supersampling on), but the 25 levels are so visually similar that they blend together.</p><p>If it didn’t require so much attention, I’d say that The Marvellous Miss Take would make a great game to casually poke at while half-watching a bad TV show. As it is, it’s not interesting enough that I want to sit at my desk and devote my full attention to it for any longer than I have.&nbsp;I do respect how clean and direct its design is, and how it tries to make stealth an active task instead of a bunch of&nbsp;waiting, but it only succeeds at that in a portion of its levels. It's not <em>bad</em> by any means, just&nbsp;a decent stealth game that didn't hook me.</p> Five Nights at Freddy's 3 appears on Steam Greenlight with a new teaserhttp://www.pcgamer.com/five-nights-at-freddys-3-appears-on-steam-greenlight-with-a-new-teaser/"He will come back. He always does."Mon, 26 Jan 2015 22:53:44 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/five-nights-at-freddys-3-appears-on-steam-greenlight-with-a-new-teaser/Five Nights at Freddy'sHorrorNews <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hdHlIy0W4uU?vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> I've heard a lot of good things about <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/five-nights-at-freddys/">Five Nights at Freddy's</a>, the horror games in which you keep watch over a children's pizzeria and the horrific creatures who lurk within. The original game was a "frightfully effective nightmare machine," according to <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/five-nights-at-freddys-review/">our review</a>, while the second, despite its frustrating level of difficultly, is "<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/five-nights-at-freddys-2-review/">one of the scariest environments you'll sweat in</a>." Confirmation that a third Five Nights is in the works came to us <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/five-nights-at-freddys-3-appears-to-be-on-its-way/">earlier this month</a>, and it's now appeared on <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=381852545">Steam Greenlight</a>, complete with a brief and happily creeptastic teaser.</p><p> "Thirty years after Freddy Fazbear's Pizza closed it's doors, the events that took place there have become nothing more than a rumor and a childhood memory, but the owners of 'Fazbear's Fright: The Horror Attraction' are determined to revive the legend and make the experience as authentic as possible for patrons, going to great lengths to find anything that might have survived decades of neglect and ruin," the Greenlight description states. "At first there were only empty shells, a hand, a hook, an old paper-plate doll, but then a remarkable discovery was made... The attraction now has one animatronic."</p><p> And that's the extent of it. The trailer isn't much more informative, saying only, "He will come back. He always does. We have a place for him," and that it's coming soon. Are you ready?</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3liZgvT9TJ-Q.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TILB5kBobEmb.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Five Nights at Freddy's"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Dx9VeCACRfWa.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vRFs__6aifTF.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Five Nights at Freddy's"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5Zy2cUMxS1iC.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gwT0R7RLaDow.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Five Nights at Freddy's"></p> Gearbox is recruiting for 'the next Borderlands' http://www.pcgamer.com/gearbox-is-recruiting-for-the-next-borderlands/"we're not working on a new Borderlands game, but we want to," says CEO.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 22:24:08 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/gearbox-is-recruiting-for-the-next-borderlands/BorderlandsFPSGearbox SoftwareNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/85VQOwZNRkuU.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oN71Q0-c66ss.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Borderlands"></p><p>While many were anticipating a full blown Borderlands 3 announcement at Gearbox's PAX South panel at the weekend, there was instead a fairy muted confirmation that the studio is indeed "ready" to develop the next instalment. Following the hour-long presentation, Randy Pitchford&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/DuvalMagic/status/559510055284789251">Tweeted</a> the above image, along with the message: "We are recruiting for next Borderlands. This is the big one."</p><p>It followed the Gearbox panel itself, where Pitchford had the following to say, according to&nbsp;<a href="http://au.ign.com/articles/2015/01/26/pax-south-2015-gearbox-on-borderlands-3-were-ready-to-start">IGN</a>. "We want to think about the future and we want to think about what the next Borderlands is and we're going to need some help," Pitchford said.</p><p> "The fact is, we're not working on a new Borderlands game, but we want to."</p><p>Pitchford made a call out for recruitment, and added that&nbsp;"there's literally nothing to tell" about the game. Which makes sense, given they haven't started making it.&nbsp;</p><p>It follows reports last February that the studio&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/borderlands-3-isnt-currently-in-development/">hadn't started work</a> on proper sequel to Borderlands 2, though 2K Australia was at the time developing Borderlands: The Pre Sequel, a "<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/borderlands-the-pre-sequel-review/">well executed but unambitious</a>" spinoff which used the same engine as Borderlands 2. Elsewhere, Gearbox is currently working on Battleborn, a squad shooter with MOBA elements. It's safe to say that if there is a Borderlands 3, it'll be a couple of years before it releases.</p> Dragon Age: Inquisition tavern music is free to download for a limited timehttp://www.pcgamer.com/dragon-age-inquisition-tavern-music-is-free-to-download-for-a-limited-time/The download includes ten tracks from Dragon Age: Inquisition, plus sheet music and lyrics.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 21:56:20 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/dragon-age-inquisition-tavern-music-is-free-to-download-for-a-limited-time/BiowareDragon Age: InquisitionNewsRPG <p> Fans of videogame music and free stuff will want to direct their attention to the <a href="http://www.dragonage.com/en_US/news/inquisition-tavern-songs-giveaway">Dragon Age: Inquisition website</a>, where BioWare has put the game's tavern songs up for grabs, briefly, at no charge. There are ten tracks in total, each one short and simple, as you'd expect from a bardic ballad, but all of them quite good.</p><p> As noted on the site, the songs are composed by Raney Shockne except for the first track, I Am The One, which is actually by Inon Zur. The download also includes the sheet music and lyrics to all ten tracks so that the musically inclined among you can perform them yourselves, perhaps as an entry in BioWare's ongoing <a href="http://www.dragonage.com/en_US/media/fan-celebration">Fan Celebration Contest</a>.</p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Cin4etTJiwk?vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> The Dragon Age: Inquisition tavern songs are available at no charge until February 9, at which time they'll go up for sale "on many popular digital platforms." Better to get them while they're free, I'd say.</p> CS:GO competitive guide: your first match - aiming, AWPing, and Dust2http://www.pcgamer.com/csgo-competitive-guide/This week, we continue on Dust2, focusing on crosshair placement, timing, AWPing, and more.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 21:23:52 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/csgo-competitive-guide/Counter-Strike: Global OffensiveE-sportsFPS <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/w2jJRVV7tls" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/csgo-competitive-guide-your-first-match/">Last week</a> I schooled Lucas in his first-ever CS:GO competitive match. This week, we continue on Dust2, focusing on crosshair placement, timing,&nbsp;AWPing,&nbsp;and a bit of grenading.</p> Valve announces $250,000 prize pool for CS:GO at Katowice 2015http://www.pcgamer.com/valve-announces-250000-prize-pool-for-csgo-at-katowice-2015/ESL is bringing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive back to Katowice for 2015.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 20:52:35 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/valve-announces-250000-prize-pool-for-csgo-at-katowice-2015/Counter-Strike: Global OffensiveE-sportsESLFPSNewsValve <p>The ESL is headed back to Katowice, Poland, for a 16-team <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/counter-strike-global-offensive/">Counter-Strike: Global Offensive</a> tournament with a prize pool worth $250,000. </p><p>Taking place from March 12-15 at the Spodek Arenda, the tournament will feature the eight <a href="http://www.gosugamers.net/counterstrike/events/260-dreamhack-winter-2014">Dreamhack Winter 2014</a> quarter-finalists&mdash;HellRaisers, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Virtus Pro, PENTA Sports, Team LDLC, fnatic, Team Dignitas, and Natus Vincere&mdash;plus eight more teams that will be determined by upcoming qualifiers. The final stage of those qualifiers will be held offline in Katowice over February 14-15.</p><p>"When we took ESL One to Katowice last year, we saw some absolutely fantastic games and experienced a great atmosphere&mdash;particularly when Virtus.pro, a Polish team, were crowned champions in front of their home crowd,” ESL Pro Gaming Managing Director Ulrich Schulze said in a statement. "Since then CS:GO has made incredible progress and we are honoured to once again have been given the opportunity to host a CS:GO Major with a US$250,000 prize purse.”</p><p>Tickets to ESL One Katowice 2015 may be purchased <a href="http://www.esl-one.com/csgo/katowice-2015/tickets/">here</a>, and of course the whole thing will be streamed live for the benefit of those who won't be in Poland in March. Find out more at <a href="http://www.esl-one.com/csgo/katowice-2015/news/esl-return-to-katowice-with-us-250000-csgo-major-at-this-years-intel-esl-expo/">ESL-One.com</a>.</p> Why Nvidia's GTX 970 slows down when using more than 3.5GB VRAMhttp://www.pcgamer.com/why-nvidias-gtx-970-slows-down-using-more-than-35gb-vram/Nvidia GTX 970inaccurately stated the GTX 970 has the same ROPs and L2 cache as the 980 at launch.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 20:00:56 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/why-nvidias-gtx-970-slows-down-using-more-than-35gb-vram/HardwareNewsNvidia GTX 980Nvidia MaxwellTech <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/T2GOLk8mQAu5.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YkEz1OMVVoYi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="GTX 970"></p><p>Last week, commenters on&nbsp;<a href="https://forums.geforce.com/default/topic/803518/geforce-900-series/gtx-970-3-5gb-vram-issue/105/">Nvidia’s forums</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/pcgaming/comments/2s2968/gtx970_memoryvram_allocation_bug/">reddit</a>, Guru3D and elsewhere started digging into what looked to be a concerning problem: the GeForce GTX 970 only seems to use 3.5GB of its 4GB of VRAM. Few games can really utilize 4GB of VRAM, but some commenters noted a serious drop in performance or stuttering when pushing the GTX 970 over the 3.5GB threshold. The same problem did not appear to affect the GTX 980.</p><p>Nvidia responded on Friday with this statement (and chart):&nbsp;</p><hr><p>“The GeForce GTX 970 is equipped with 4GB of dedicated graphics memory. However the 970 has a different configuration of SMs than the 980, and fewer crossbar resources to the memory system. To optimally manage memory traffic in this configuration, we segment graphics memory into a 3.5GB section and a 0.5GB section. The GPU has higher priority access to the 3.5GB section. When a game needs less than 3.5GB of video memory per draw command then it will only access the first partition, and 3rd party applications that measure memory usage will report 3.5GB of memory in use on GTX 970, but may report more for GTX 980 if there is more memory used by other commands. When a game requires more than 3.5GB of memory then we use both segments.</p><p>The best way to test that is to look at game performance. Compare a GTX 980 to a 970 on a game that uses less than 3.5GB. Then turn up the settings so the game needs more than 3.5GB and compare 980 and 970 performance again.</p><p>Here’s an example of some performance data:</p><div><table><colgroup><col><col></colgroup><tbody><tr><td></td><td>GTX980</td><td>GTX970</td></tr><tr><td>Shadows of Mordor</td><td></td><td></td></tr><tr><td>&lt;3.5GB setting = 2688x1512 Very High</td><td>72fps</td><td>60fps</td></tr><tr><td>&gt;3.5GB setting = 3456x1944</td><td>55fps (-24%)</td><td>45fps (-25%)</td></tr><tr><td>Battlefield 4</td><td></td><td></td></tr><tr><td>&lt;3.5GB setting = 3840x2160 2xMSAA</td><td>36fps</td><td>30fps</td></tr><tr><td>&gt;3.5GB setting = 3840x2160 135% res</td><td>19fps (-47%)</td><td>15fps (-50%)</td></tr><tr><td>Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare</td><td></td><td></td></tr><tr><td>&lt;3.5GB setting = 3840x2160 FSMAA T2x, Supersampling off</td><td>82fps</td><td>71fps</td></tr><tr><td>&gt;3.5GB setting = 3840x2160 FSMAA T2x, Supersampling on</td><td>48fps (-41%)</td><td>40fps (-44%)</td></tr></tbody></table></div><p>On GTX 980, Shadows of Mordor drops about 24% on GTX 980 and 25% on GTX 970, a 1% difference. On Battlefield 4, the drop is 47% on GTX 980 and 50% on GTX 970, a 3% difference. On CoD: AW, the drop is 41% on GTX 980 and 44% on GTX 970, a 3% difference. As you can see, there is very little change in the performance of the GTX 970 relative to GTX 980 on these games when it is using the 0.5GB segment.”</p><hr><p>It’s hard to analyze the effect of pushing either card past 3.5GB of VRAM with the numbers provided above; the framerate will naturally be lowered by running a game at higher resolution or AA settings. Nvidia’s point is that the GTX 970 behaves just like the 980, with performance only decreasing about 1-3%, comparatively.</p><p>Those are also average framerates, which don’t address the problem some commenters have pointed out: dramatic framerate stutter at the moment the GTX 970 starts utilizing its final 500MB of VRAM. This user-created Nai’s Benchmark claims to show that the memory bandwidth of the GTX 970 drops dramatically when accessing that last 500MB, while the same problem does not affect the GTX 980. These numbers look bad, though we can’t vouch for the veracity of data provided by the benchmark.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PlHU2lj2QzSn.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/h1JHy90x5NF2.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Image via LazyGamer" class=""><figcaption>Image via LazyGamer</figcaption></figure><p>On Sunday,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/NVIDIA-Discloses-Full-Memory-Structure-and-Limitations-GTX-970">Nvidia Senior VP of GPU Engineering Jonah Alben spoke to PC&nbsp;Perspective</a> about the issue, and we finally have clarification on where that discrepancy comes from. PCPer writes:</p><p>“The most important part here is the memory system...&nbsp;connected to the SMMs through a crossbar interface. That interface has 8 total ports to connect to collections of L2 cache and memory controllers, all of which are utilized in a GTX 980. With a GTX 970 though, only 7 of those ports are enabled, taking one of the combination L2 cache/ROP units along with it. However, the 32-bit memory controller segment remains.</p><p>"You should take two things away from that simple description. First, despite initial reviews and information from NVIDIA, the <strong>GTX 970 actually has fewer ROPs and less L2 cache than the GTX 980</strong>. NVIDIA says this was an error in the reviewer’s guide and a misunderstanding between the engineering team and the technical PR team on how the architecture itself functioned. That means the GTX 970 has 56 ROPs and 1792 KB of L2 cache compared to 64 ROPs and 2048 KB of L2 cache for the GTX 980. Before people complain about the ROP count difference as a performance bottleneck, keep in mind that the 13 SMMs in the GTX 970 can only output 52 pixels/clock and the seven segments of 8 ROPs each (56 total) can handle 56 pixels/clock. The SMMs are the bottleneck, not the ROPs.”</p><p>If you don’t speak graphics card, PCPer helps break down the architecture of the GTX 970. Because the GTX 970 only has seven ports connecting memory controllers and cache, one of those ports would always be burdened with twice as many requests.</p><p>PCPer explains “if the 7th port is fully busy, and is getting twice as many requests as the other port, then the other six must be only half busy, to match with the 2:1 ratio. So the overall bandwidth would be roughly half of peak. This would cause dramatic underutilization and would prevent optimal performance and efficiency for the GPU.”</p><p>Nvidia avoided that problem by dividing the memory into a 3.5GB pool and a 0.5GB pool. Few games (currently) require more than 3.5GB of VRAM, so the primary pool can be accessed at maximum bandwidth.</p><p>PCPer writes: “Let's be blunt here: access to the 0.5GB of memory, on its own and in a vacuum, would occur at 1/7th of the speed of the 3.5GB pool of memory. If you look at the Nai benchmarks (pictured above) floating around, this is what you are seeing.”</p><p>Accessing that last 500MB of VRAM is absolutely slower than accessing the first 3.5GB. What we don’t know, exactly, is how much that actually matters for gaming. PCPer points out that the last chunk of VRAM is still four times faster than system RAM (your DDR3) accessed via PCIe. The GTX 970 does have 4GB of VRAM, and it can use all of it, but accessing those last 500MB will decrease performance.</p><p>We’re doing our own testing to see if we can determine how much impact using the last chunk of VRAM has on gaming. Having used the GTX 970 extensively, we can still say that it’s a fantastic card for the price and an overclocking beast. But that doesn't excuse Nvidia’s omission, intentional or accidental, as PCPer highlights: “at the very least, the company did not fully disclose the missing L2 and ROP partition on the GTX 970, even if it was due to miscommunication internally.”</p><p>We’ll have more on this issue as we continue testing. Thanks to PC&nbsp;Perspective for their excellent reporting.</p> Ubisoft says canceled Uplay game keys were "fraudulent"http://www.pcgamer.com/ubisoft-says-canceled-uplay-game-keys-were-fraudulent/Complaints aboutdeactivatedUplay game keys began pouring in over the weekend.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 19:27:05 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/ubisoft-says-canceled-uplay-game-keys-were-fraudulent/NewsUbisoftUplay <p>In response to a flurry of complaints about deactivated Uplay game keys that hit the <a href="http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/1001533-Concerning-Far-Cry-4-removal-from-our-libraries-Open-letter?s=221a04fd79e6f46cb27307265fddb9a9">Ubisoft forums</a> over the weekend, the publisher issued a statement saying it regularly deactivates "fraudulently obtained" keys, but added that it is looking into the matter&nbsp;further&nbsp;and will issue an update to affected customers as soon as it can.</p><p>The trouble began on Saturday, when an "expatriate Belgian in Poland" complained that a <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/far-cry-4/">Far Cry 4</a> game key he'd purchased from reseller Kinguin had been deleted from his Uplay library without warning. He's purchased keys from Kinguin in the past, he wrote, because Polish stores don't carry English or French-language games and the exchange rate on Steam between the Euro and the złoty, Poland's currency, is absolutely outrageous, and this is the first time he's run into trouble.</p><p>The thread quickly ballooned to 25 pages of similar complaints, rebuttals, and the usual sort of internet forum fun times, before Ubisoft finally issued a response. "We regularly deactivate keys that were fraudulently obtained and resold," Community Manager xMiiSTY <a href="http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/1001533-Concerning-Far-Cry-4-removal-from-our-libraries-Open-letter?p=10544747#post10544747">wrote</a>. "In this case, we are currently investigating the origin of the fraud, and will update customers as soon as we have more information to share. In the meantime, customers should contact the vendor from whom they purchased the key."</p><p>There's an element of hopefulness to the statement in the implied suggestion that the situation could be reversed, but when something similar cropped up last year Ubisoft <a href="http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/981769-Assassin-s-Creed-Unity-cd-key-banned?p=10478001&amp;viewfull=1#post10478001">said unequivocally</a> that it will revoke keys purchased from "a non-official reseller&mdash;which is selling keys gotten in a non-official way," and that the only option for anyone with a canceled key is to seek a refund from either the reseller or the payment processor. And while it's easy to cast a baleful glare at Ubisoft for its clunky customer service, it's not the only publisher with a policy of shooting down unauthorized keys: The famously gamer-friendly Devolver Digital said in <a href="https://twitter.com/devolverdigital/status/466577590606520320">April 2014</a> that keys for its games purchased through popular reseller G2A "are not legitimate, not guaranteed, and not supported. We are actively canceling those keys."</p><p>We've reached out to Ubisoft for more information and will update if and when we receive a reply.</p> The Witcher 3 level designer on the delay, PC controls, and world buildinghttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-level-designer-on-the-delay-pc-controls-and-world-building-2/Level designer Miles Tost talks about what’s happening during the delay of The Witcher 3.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 18:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-level-designer-on-the-delay-pc-controls-and-world-building-2/InterviewsThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kCWXTajLTJW9.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9Oe_uY0ImXUn.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt They call this civilization--I feel safer in the woods"></p><p>Last week I got to play a few hours of The Witcher 3 (read Tom Senior’s <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-hands-on-my-god-its-full-of-bears/">hands-on impressions</a> of the same demo), and I can see why <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-delayed-again/">it was delayed</a>. The characters, voice acting, and animations are great, and what little combat I managed in my three hours of play was complex and challenging, but there were a lot of little things that didn’t quite work. Characters sometimes popped in after a scene had loaded, the framerate dipped a few times, it was generally hard to jump and climb, I got one crash, and I didn’t like the controller controls much. Unfortunately, I couldn’t play with a mouse and keyboard for the demo, as that mapping is still being tweaked.</p><p>These are the kinds of things CD Projekt RED is working on as it approaches the new May 19th release date. After playing, I had a chat with Miles Tost, a level designer on the game, to get some insight on the PC features, what’s being fixed, and what it took to design such a huge world.</p><p><strong>PC Gamer: From your perspective, what needs to be done before you sell The Witcher 3?</strong></p><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">Miles Tost</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/e3bqW6N7RDud.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WLpl5yw6HBhi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Miles Tost"></p></div><p><strong>Miles Tost, Level Designer: </strong>There are some small hiccups here and there that still need to be addressed to make for a thoroughly smooth experience. One of the bigger things we’re aware of is the horse, which is probably our main thing that we are working on. Actually, the cool thing about that is that this is one of the main complains of the people, and not, for example, the story. People are not saying, “Alright, the story sucks.” They’re saying the horse controls could be better, which, for us, that’s something that’s perfectly manageable to fix within the time that we have. Like, revamping the entire story or something? That would not be really possible.</p><p>Another thing is, of course, the performance hiccups you can see time to time. Those are basically&mdash;they’re no-brainers, essentially, right. They need to go. And that’s something we should also very well be able to deal with until launch.</p><p><strong>At one point, when I got off the horse, Geralt stayed in his horse animation. So he was walking like he was still on the horse.</strong></p><p>Yeah, you get these things in open world games [laughs]. I kind of look forward to all these glitch reels. You’ll get them. That’s something that just belongs to open world games, I guess.</p><p><strong>You can’t fix absolutely everything.</strong></p><p>No, no, there’s always a way to kind of&mdash;obviously we want to minimize it as much as possible. As long as it’s not intrusive, right, and hinders your gameplay experience, it’s not horrible. Bugs that stop you in your track and prevent you from continuing on, those are really bad, but if you have some cosmetic issue they can be kind of funny.</p><p><strong>I used a controller to play because that’s what the demo was set up for, but I’m curious about how the mouse and keyboard controls are coming. There are things like Geralt’s spells, for example, and you can only select one at a time on a radial menu. Is there a reason for that? It feels like they could be mapped to hotkeys.</strong></p><p>I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think there is a way to quickly cycle between those skills on keyboards, and there might even still be one on the controllers. I’m not 100 percent sure. Basically, quick slot switching, and that’s something more easily implemented on keyboard, for obvious reasons, because you have more buttons within reach. But, truth is that the PC controls are still being tweaked.</p><p><strong>Do have a sense of what’s preferred? Do you guys prefer playing with a controller?</strong></p><p>No, I personally prefer playing with a mouse and keyboard myself. We’re constantly switching around things, you know, optimizing things. With the controllers we’re pretty much there. There might be some minor tweaks happening after these events according to the feedback we’re getting, but the PC controls, being the keyboard and mouse, you have so many more buttons. There’s so much more variety of what you can do, and we still haven’t found our optimal way. So, we’re still working on that. But we’re fairly confident in that, because most of the people in our company are actually PC gamers themselves, so there’s a personal interest.</p><p><strong>I also snooped through the graphics options, because I’m always curious about that. I couldn’t find the resolution option, and I’m wondering if you’ll support arbitrary resolutions with this one, downsampling.</strong></p><p>Yeah, we actually have a supersampling option, but that’s really where you need a monster of a computer. We had it in Witcher 2, it was called ubersampling. Arguably, for some players it didn’t make that much of a difference considering the performance costs it put in. Well, everybody familiar with the technology behind it, for supersampling, downsampling images&mdash;the changes are all very subtle, but they add to the overall picture. So yeah, we’ll have that. We’ll probably force your computer to its knees.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/m3dzjAp0T4mD.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uEiWwj0SFcn9.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt 5"></p><p><strong>I bet. Some people like to use it to compose really interesting screenshots and videos&mdash;do you know if there’s a way to completely turn off the HUD?</strong></p><p>Honestly, right now I don’t recall how powerful it is, but there is a HUD configuration menu... I think, yeah, you can turn off some HUD elements. The cool thing is the way we design our world&mdash;because you said you like to take photos with interesting compositions and all that&mdash;that’s actually how we approach designing locations. We can anticipate from where a player might access a certain location, right? If you follow the road, then this location will open up in front of you in a certain way where you’ve got a lot of classical image composition techniques being applied, so you know... silhouettes, rule of thirds and everything... that’s why we have so many cool vistas in the game.</p><p><strong>With such a big world, how much of it is handcrafted like this, and how much is done with procedural generation tools&mdash;you know, dropping foliage here and there?</strong></p><p>I think you’d be surprised. There is literally no automatically generated content there.</p><p><strong>So everything is placed intentionally?</strong></p><p>Yes, everything is hand-crafted. From the cities down to each individual rock you see. It’s a very meticulous and detailed, admittedly long-lasting process of detailing every single location. I think it’s worth it, it also helps making the world look alive. Authentic.</p><p><strong>What’s your favorite location in the game?</strong></p><p>To be honest, I cannot answer that question. In the main narrative, there is a section where you’ll access some truly unique-looking locations. Those are probably one of my favorites but that would be spoiling the story. If you think back to this interview once we release the game, you will know when you get there. You’ll instantly know, I promise.</p><p><strong>So, you have a few more months to work on The Witcher 3. As a level designer, what’s your main job until release?</strong></p><p>Yeah, obviously we’re bug fixing, so I’m mostly dealing with location-based bugs. “I got stuck here,” you know, or there’s a piece of floating grass. [Laughs.] Things like that. They can be more extreme, as in trying to get functionality of some certain features to act more smoothly. For example, the whole exploration concept of climbing around on things&mdash;[making sure] that the collision is accurate enough that Geralt won’t grab the air but the actual rock, and all these kinds of things.</p><p>For me, it’s less on the gameplay functional side, and more on visual cosmetics. Locations are pretty much done, so it’s mostly visual issues. From time to time we’ll encounter something where a quest doesn’t progress because the NPC is not able to walk up that slope or something, but there are no major things that I have to deal with. Most of the stuff is optimizing gameplay and performance.</p> Kerbal Space Program will leave Early Access next updatehttp://www.pcgamer.com/kerbal-space-program-will-leave-early-access-next-update/Next update marks official release, brings new physics, bug fixes and female Kerbals.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 15:20:41 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/kerbal-space-program-will-leave-early-access-next-update/Early AccessKerbal Space ProgramNewssimSquad <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/49Z1VO3BQdiH.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/H5ils03X91Av.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="LfSEGqm"></p><p>Kerbal Space Program will leave Early Access with its next update. Come one, come all, and join me in a moment's&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rzDXNQxjHs" target="_blank">Also sprach Zarathustra</a>.</p><p>It's not been revealed when the update will release, but the rocketry sim only&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/kerbal-space-program-beta-update-released/" target="_blank">entered beta last month</a>. "As development in Beta has progressed, one thing has become very apparent,"&nbsp;<a href="http://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/content/326-Beyond-Beta" target="_blank">writes SQUAD's&nbsp;Felipe “HarvesteR” Falanghe</a>,&nbsp;"Kerbal Space Program is about to reach a state in which every single one of the original goals for the game has been reached, and we can say that our original design document has been fulfilled."</p><p>That means the game will soon be officially released&mdash;a somewhat strange designation as it's been both available to buy and brilliant for a long time now. Nevertheless, it won't be the end of development. "We see no better way to follow up on reaching our initial goals than to continue development on Kerbal Space Program, beyond Beta, past our original plans," HarvesteR writes.</p><p>The 1.0 update itself will bring, among other things, new, more realistic modelling of drag and lift, an 'Engineer's Report' warning of crucial design flaws, a game over state, and female Kerbals. You can see a full run-down of the planned features over at the&nbsp;<a href="http://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/content/326-Beyond-Beta" target="_blank">KSP forum</a>.</p> Witcher 3 screenshots show monsters, peasants and strange fashionhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-screenshots-2/11 new shots from the verdant fields of The Witcher 3's prologue.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 15:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-screenshots-2/RPGThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt The Witcher 3 hands-on: my god it's full of bearshttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-hands-on-my-god-its-full-of-bears/We've played a big chunk of this year's most anticipated RPG. Here's how it went.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 15:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-hands-on-my-god-its-full-of-bears/Must ReadRPGThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Hrc_ZNkPRb-T.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/X74_8D6GZEzK.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 3 header"></p><p> There are bears in the banquet hall&mdash;shit! Just as I'm making good progress schmoozing the castellan, we're forced to dash back to the feast hall where a grizzly bear is busy biting the head off a guest. It shakes the corpse in its jaws and roars, face matted with blood. Most of the guests are strewn in pieces across their dinner.</p><p> No problem. I'm Geralt the monster hunter, famous throughout the land for being able to solve problems like sudden impossible bears. The castle is built into a vast crag, and is suspended a hundred feet above the sea. There's no way three monsters waltzed up the winding pathway and talked their way past the guards. Something strange is going on.</p><p> I draw one of my swords and equip my fire spell, Igni. A chirpier hero would make a "time for the main course" gag, but Geralt&mdash;in the mould of your typical hyper-masculine RPG antihero&mdash;has never tried to be funny in his life. I lock on and circle the bear, using the dodge command to sidestep its paw-swipes. When I can I plant a couple of flamboyant spinning fast strikes on its bum until it flops over dead. A few surviving guards are cautiously swatting at two other bears further down the hall. I help them out with my fire spell and soon those bears are dead too, and lightly roasted. Aw.</p><blockquote> I'm Geralt the monster hunter, famous throughout the land for being able to solve problems like sudden impossible bears. </blockquote><p> The surviving court members don't share my sympathy. Skellige's most influential families had gathered to get drunk and reinforce ties, but the bear incident has them pointing fingers. One barely-alive witness at least manages to solve the mystery of the magic bears before literally spilling his guts&mdash;they're shapeshifters who snuck into the party in human form.</p><p> This is entertaining stuff. The four hours of The Witcher 3 I've played are full of twisty little self-contained plots that make me feel like Mulder in a medieval X-Files. There's a bigger grand arc, of course, concerning Ciri&mdash;a woman with magic powers who was trained by Geralt at a young age&mdash;and the intentions of the supernatural horsemen of The Wild Hunt. That's set against the backdrop of a war between Redania and the expansionist imperial forces of Nilfgaard, who you see charging across the border in a post-credit sequence at the end of The Witcher 2. In spite of all that grand fantasy setup, you spend a lot of time in conversation with peasants and workaday warlords, solving local problems in return for information and help on the road.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bW6QWPvUTFeb.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/wEV-BUYnBrHt.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 3 jam" style="background-color: initial;" class=""> <figcaption>Mmmm, a jam golem was slain here.</figcaption></figure> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">LIFE'S A GLITCH</h5> <p> The unfinished preview build had plenty of bugs, which explains the recent delay for polish. The griffon chase twice ended with the griffon flying inside a hill where he couldn't be hit. The horse struggled on uneven terrain. All the guards in Skellige castle started randomly&nbsp;attacking Geralt after a&nbsp;cutscene.&nbsp;There's a&nbsp;chance these will be fixed before release, but we're praying The Witcher 3 doesn't become the next Assassin's Creed: Unity. Luckily the screen-tear you might read about in other previews didn't apply to the PC version, which looked beautiful throughout. </p> </div><p> It desperately wants to be a gritty HBO drama, and while it has the production values, it's slightly too silly to pull it off. The bear attack is a memorable moment, but I can't help but chuckle at the options I'm given in the aftermath of the bear attack. Should I a) go with the woman who wants to launch a forensic investigation into the massacre or b) side with the angry man who wants to charge into the wilderness and take revenge on all bears?</p><p> Option B it is. I find myself investigating a decimated outpost five minutes horse ride north of the castle. Its inhabitants have been torn apart and I don't even need Geralt's witcher vision to know that powerful animals are responsible. I can use witcher vision to track the culprits, though. Holding down the button highlights important environmental clues like footprints, savaged corpses and dropped trinkets&mdash;I ended up using witcher vision in almost every quest I played. My bear-hating friend&mdash;the hairy Scully to my Mulder&mdash;stays close as we follow prints up a winding path to a cave entrance.</p><p> The Witcher 3's dungeons are as detailed and atmospheric as its sweeping outdoor areas. Torchlight glistens against black rock as we plod deeper into the mountain. Sure enough we're confronted by a bare-chested axeman with suspiciously bear-like qualities. He charges; we fight.</p><p> Combat is the aspect of The Witcher 3's I'm most worried about. Your move set is comparable to The Witcher 2, so you have heavy and light attacks and a dodge command. Dodging now causes Geralt to dart rather than roll, though you can hold the button down to have him dive roll a greater distance&mdash;ideal when fighting monsters with big long arms. You can also hold a parry button to block, and tap it at the last second to parry an incoming strike and send your opponent staggering.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Y3hN1Q-0Tvi9.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NfxPhPBkF_43.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 3 3" class=""><figcaption>The parrying skill makes it more fun to fight humans than monsters. The dismemberment system brutally sells the witcher's superhuman strength.</figcaption></figure><p> Geralt has the same spells as he did in The Witcher 2. He can summon a shield that negates a hit, blast enemies with a spray of embers, push them with a concussive blast and trap them in a circle of glyphs. They're best used in combination, but the fiddly interface demands that you pause combat momentarily to flick between options. Hopefully this problem won't translate to mouse and keyboard setups&mdash;only controllers were available for the demo.</p><p> The combat system works quite well against humanoid enemies. Their easily parsed stabs and swipes are well matched to the speed and distance of your dodge, which makes it satisfying to hop around an attack and cleave someone in half. The system falters when you fight larger creatures. The lowest point of the demo was a fight with a griffon who seemed completely resistant to lock-on. It attacked with slashes and bodily shrugs that dealt damage at unpredictable angles. The fight was full of "bullshit!" moments symptomatic of poorly represented hitboxes. I would use my sluggish long-distance roll to avoid an attack, run back into range and swipe ineffectively at its haunches, hits sometimes registering, sometimes not.</p><p> The protective Quen spell serves as compensation for taking the odd unexpected hit, but that replaces one frustration with another. It must be cast constantly like a nervous tick, especially in tough fights, and there are plenty of those. Geralt may be a super-mutant monster hunter but he can be cut down quite easily. I admire the punishing difficulty, because it encourages preparation through alchemy and the crafting of better equipment&mdash;a strong staple of the Witcher series&mdash;but the difficulty exaggerates the foibles of the combat system.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/a2aFi1HPScKD.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5ICFHvFwUslX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 3 4" class=""><figcaption>It really does look like this, on ultra settings, at least.</figcaption></figure><p> It's a nagging annoyance rather than a severe problem, and some fights were great. In one area I solved the mystery of a haunted well and drew out a spirit. I had to lure it into my magical circle trap to give it physical form and then kill it with my silver sword. The fight required plenty of preparation. I had to gather clues from the abandoned buildings near the well and even go down the well to retrieve an amulet that could summon the spirit. As you learn more about a monster, your journal updates with precise details about the thing's habits and weaknesses. You grow the journal over the course of the game like a&nbsp;Pokédex, becoming an expert in the world's creatures as you explore. The context, spooky locale and clever use of Geralt's magic all contributed to the feeling that I'd really tangled with something supernatural, and that was just a side quest.</p><p> The cave is admittedly less exciting, but still hides a few surprises. I kill the bear man and press on to the heart of the cave network to find a band of cultists worshipping a forbidden bear god&mdash;naughty cultists! A brief cutscene shows a warlock performing a rite with some initiates. After a few words of power bears emerge from the shadows and brutally kill and eat the initiates. Letting out horrible half-man, half-bear screams, the bears grow human faces and transform into men. Ah, they're not humans pretending to be bears, they're bears pretending to be human. Is this all part of some elaborate bear coup?</p><p> The bears are easily dispatched, but the warlock causes problems. For some reason his stick attacks can't be parried&mdash;another frustrating combat inconsistency. A few combos and Quen barriers later, he's dead, but a note found at the scene suggests the cult is being manipulated by a darker force hoping to destabilise the region through acts of bear terrorism. Sadly the rest of that mystery lies beyond the limits of the demo.</p><p> There's just time to wander out into the hills of Skellige and watch a storm roll in over the hills.&nbsp;I use Geralt's meditation skill to skip time ahead to dawn and explore for a while under the sunrise. There are terrifying spiders in the woods that almost slaughter me, there's a village of shipbuilders at the base of the castle on the crag. Skitterish game animals potter around near the coast. I've played for hours and only scratched the bare surface. The Witcher 3 is monstrously huge, and I have a feeling that the fidelity of the world will overcome the passable fighting, just so long as they fix the bugs.</p><p><em>For more Witcher 3 goodness, check out the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-screenshots-2/">new screenshots</a> of the rural prologue zone.</em></p> What happens if Shadowrun: Hong Kong raises $1 million?http://www.pcgamer.com/what-happens-if-shadowrun-hong-kong-raises-1-million/Harebrained Schemes reveals what happens if they make mega-bucks. More game, basically.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:46:14 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/what-happens-if-shadowrun-hong-kong-raises-1-million/Harebrained SchemesNewsRPGShadowrun ReturnsShadowrun: Hong Kong <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/b4ZB0HvYT3ul.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2c3q72-YmfT0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Shadowrun: Hong Kong"></p><p>Having people constantly throwing money at you must be <em>awful</em>. It's never happened to me, thank <em>GOD</em>, but if it did I imagine I'd be spending my time slumped on my couch&mdash;one outstretched arm shading my forehead from the weight of all that cash.</p><p>Some people are forced to live this terrible life. For instance, Harebrained Schemes, who went to Kickstarter to ask&nbsp;for $100,000 with which&nbsp;to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/harebrained-schemes-reveals-shadowrun-hong-kong/" target="_blank">create a new Shadowrun game</a>. Called Shadowrun: Hong Kong, the game raised its total within two hours. Now they're up to $690,000 and people keep giving them money. Nightmare.</p><p>Fortunately, there were stretch goals in play, adding new characters, new sidequests and expanded systems. Those stretch goals stop&nbsp;at $700,000&mdash;a total that will almost certainly be met before the campaign's 22 remaining days are up.</p><p>What happens after that? What happens at $1 million? In a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/webeharebrained/shadowrun-hong-kong/posts/1114314" target="_blank">new update</a>, the team explains exactly what.</p><p>The answer, simply, is that the game will get a secondary&nbsp;Shadows of Hong Kong&nbsp;Mini-Campaign set after the events of the main game. This extra will provide around four to five hours of additional story, and will let players import their Shadowrun: Hong Kong character.</p><p>"The Shadows of Hong Kong Mini-Campaign will come out sometime before the end of 2015," explains Harebrained,&nbsp;"and will be free to Backers at the $15 pledge level and up."</p><p>Shadowrun: Hong Kong itself is due out mid-2015.</p> Planetside 2 breaks world record for most players in an FPS battlehttp://www.pcgamer.com/planetside-2-breaks-world-record-for-most-players-in-an-fps-battle/1,158 people have a big fight, give Planetside 2 a world record in the process.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 12:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/planetside-2-breaks-world-record-for-most-players-in-an-fps-battle/FPSMMONewsPlanetside 2SOE <div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">IN WHICH PLANETSIDE 2 PRODUCER DAVID CAREY HOLDS A WORLD RECORD</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/O7jr16L5QSuy.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LdM0heixI_Oj.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="World Record" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p>Source:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/dcarey7761/status/559141672424972288" target="_blank">Twitter</a>.</p></div><p>There are a lot of things you could call a battle between 1,158 people. "Confusing" springs to mind. Also, "messy". In the specific instance of the 1,158 person battle fought&nbsp;in Planetside 2 this last weekend, the more accurate adjective is "record breaking".</p><p>As reported&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/planetside-2-players-are-organising-a-record-breaking-battle/" target="_blank">earlier in the month</a>, 24 January was the date Planetside 2 players opted to gather in an attempt to break the world record for the largest online first-person shooter battle. The aim was for 1,100 players. On the day, an extra 58 turned up&mdash;comfortably&nbsp;beating&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/man-vs-machine-breaks-world-records-with-999-player-battle/" target="_blank">Man vs. Machine's record</a> of 999 people.</p><p>Community site&nbsp;<a href="http://planetsidebattles.org/" target="_blank">Planetside Battles</a> organised the event, and have published the&nbsp;<a href="http://planetsidebattles.org/about/RecordSmash" target="_blank">final battle report</a>. During the course of the battle there were&nbsp;53,729 kills,&nbsp;3,822 team kills and 31 base captures. You can find a number of videos of the event at the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/planetside" target="_blank">Planetside 2 Reddit board</a>. Below, you can see a montage of highlights created by 'WaffleVFX'.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/oqxRPSWcaMo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> Homeworld Remastered release date announcedhttp://www.pcgamer.com/homeworld-remastered-release-date-announced/Space RTS remaster due out on 25 February.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:10:01 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/homeworld-remastered-release-date-announced/GearboxHomeworldHomeworld RemasteredNewsRTS <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/q9Bb4KttRkuC.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mo8UC879uvbT.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Homeworld"></p><p>The RTS genre has gone through some things. It's a gnarled veteran; a fighter&nbsp;that's spent decades reinventing itself to adapt to the climate. It must be livid to see a new boy turn up that's both exactly the same as a version of its&nbsp;past self, and prettier looking.</p><p>The remastered version of Homeworld&mdash;sensibly titled&nbsp;Homeworld Remastered&mdash;will be with us next month. Over the weekend, at PAX South, Gearbox announced a release date of 25 February. In addition, they offered up a new trailer.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/NXjI3DgyOqM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>The Homeworld Remastered Collection will collect both of Relic's acclaimed space-based RTS games, in both remastered and original form. This new version has been polished up by Gearbox, who bought the Homeworld licence from the sinking THQ. It adds high-res textures, a remastered score and new voice recording from the original cast.</p><p>The collection also grants access to the Homeworld Remastered Steam Multiplayer Beta&mdash;a combined online version of both Homeworld games that's also due to kick off on 25 February.</p><p>Homeworld Remastered Collection will cost £27/$35.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uYX730rVQ42d.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/M27n3L37MY9E.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="HW1 Remastered 01"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-giO0j1ORd6v.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/srJIkA17v6n2.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="HW2 Remastered 04"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9XChLYj3SuqD.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/38PM_9xKQSL5.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="HW2 Remastered 05"></p> What's the best way to move Steam games to and from an SSD?http://www.pcgamer.com/whats-the-best-way-to-move-steam-games-to-and-from-an-ssd/A selection of programs and websites that make Steam better.Mon, 26 Jan 2015 01:00:02 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/whats-the-best-way-to-move-steam-games-to-and-from-an-ssd/Ask PC Gamer <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Bep3Ox1ISD2O.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rDE1u9E-oScq.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="SSD_F3_angle_240GB"></p><div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">ask pc gamer</h5> <p> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/ask-pc-gamer/">Ask PC Gamer</a> is our weekly question and advice column. Have a burning question about the smoke coming out of your PC? Send your problems to <a href="mailto:letters@pcgamer.com">letters@pcgamer.com</a>. </p> </div><p>I'd pretend someone named "Bartholomew SSD-Owner" asked this, but that didn't happen&mdash;I'm just certain it's been asked, and I&nbsp;wanted to bring a program called&nbsp;<a href="http://www.stefanjones.ca/steam/">SteamTool Library Manager 1.1</a> to your attention.</p><p>It was more useful back before you could set alternate Steam install directories, but if you run a small SSD and only want whatever&nbsp;you're currently playing on it, SteamTool makes it easy to shuttle games to and from your storage disk. Sure, you could just find the game's folder and move it to a second Steam install folder on your HDD, but that'd take like, precious extra seconds.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/V3rGPwvqQpOH.PNG" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rQlzeCIgJZ8i.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="SteamTool"></p><p>Generally, this got me thinking about all the ways we customize Steam or use external tools to make it better. A while back we shared some of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-steam-skins/">our favorite Steam skins</a>, but here's&nbsp;some more useful Steam-related stuff. And because I've inevitably left out your favorite, share it in the comments!</p><p><a href="http://steam.tools/" target="_blank">steam.tools</a> &mdash; A much better way to browse the Steam market&nbsp;for trading cards, backgrounds, and emoticons.</p><p><a href="https://github.com/rallion/depressurizer/releases/tag/v0.6.1.0">Depressurizer</a> &mdash; Helps organize your library, and can auto-categorize&nbsp;games using data from their store pages.</p><p><a href="https://www.steamprices.com/" target="_blank">SteamPrices</a>&mdash; I use this site, among others, all the time to track discounts.</p><p><a href="https://steamdb.info/" target="_blank">SteamDB</a>&mdash; Another great way to track what's going on in the Steam store.</p><p><a href="http://steamleft.com/">Steam Left</a>&mdash; Estimates how long it'll take to beat your backlog (more frightening than useful).</p><p><a href="http://steamcharts.com/" target="_blank">Steam Charts</a> &mdash; Find out what people are playing.</p> Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered appears to be a thinghttp://www.pcgamer.com/fahrenheit-indigo-prophecy-remastered-appears-to-be-a-thing/New version of Quantic Dream'sbonkers epic leaked on Amazon.Sun, 25 Jan 2015 16:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/fahrenheit-indigo-prophecy-remastered-appears-to-be-a-thing/AdventureNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/c9tEgWS2RvOp.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/e8ls6zeE4nve.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fahrenheit Remastered"></p><p>David Cage's beautifully pompous, silly, offensive and occasionally a bit good&nbsp;Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy has appeared on Amazon as&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Fahrenheit-Ind.../dp/B00SLXWUCE">Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered</a>. In this new version of Quantic Dream's QTE-riddled adventure,&nbsp;listed for release on January 29th,&nbsp;"all of the in-game textures have been meticulously recreated in HD for mobile and desktop".&nbsp;You'll be able switch between the old and new graphics as you see fit, as with&nbsp;those redone&nbsp;Halo games on Xbox One.</p><p>There are several screens accompanying the listing, but it's hard to tell whether these are of the old 2005 version or this 'remastered' edition of the game. If you've only played the original version, you'll be pleased to hear that "unlike the original North American release, Remastered contains all of the game's original scenes, uncensored and uncut". Steam is mentioned as a requirement, while there will also be "full controller support" for Sony and Microsoft pads.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nXAR4YPuQ_Wa.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/O2BQUg6A05fL.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fahrenheit 2"></p><p>Not played Fahrenheit? It's an intriguing murder mystery that soon David Cages into a bizarre Matrix conspiracy where you fend off possessed helicopters and fight&nbsp;the physical manifestation of the internet using QTEs. It really&nbsp;has to be seen/played to be believed.</p> The Bard's Tale IV announcedhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-bards-tale-iv-announced/There'll be a Kickstarter soon, naturally.Sun, 25 Jan 2015 11:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-bards-tale-iv-announced/inXile EntertainmentNewsRPG <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/64_wjo0mSt2Z.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nsHG8xDty0kH.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Bard's Tale"></p><p>Hey, so remember inXile's teases&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/inxile-entertainment-teases-yet-another-passionately-demanded-rpg/" target="_blank">a few weeks back</a> that they were&nbsp;working on another "passionately demanded" RPG?&nbsp;Well, this is almost certainly it: a new Bard's Tale game (and a proper sequel at that) to 1988's Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate.</p><p>inXile CEO Brian Fargo announced the news&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/BrianFargo/status/559039453121884160/photo/1" target="_blank">yesterday</a> at PAX South, stopping short of revealing much about The Bard's Tale IV, although he did promise "more details to follow". Thankfully, Fargo revealed a few of those details&nbsp;<a href="http://uk.ign.com/articles/2015/01/24/brian-fargo-announces-first-bards-tale-sequel-in-27-years" target="_blank">to IGN</a>, including that the story&nbsp;will take place in Skara Brae, where the very&nbsp;first game was set. Combat will&nbsp;be turn-based, but everyone will now&nbsp;take their turns all&nbsp;at once&mdash;goodies and baddies alike. Fargo seems to have been inspired by Hearthstone, in this regard.</p><p>There will be a Kickstarter, of course&mdash;their last two did pretty well, you might recall&mdash;but there's no news on exactly when yet. We'll be sure to tell you when inXile fire theirs up, though&nbsp;personally&nbsp;I'm&nbsp;a <em>little</em> disappointed that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/van-buren-and-meantime-trademarks-filed-by-inxile/" target="_blank">those trademarks</a> for Van Buren and&nbsp;Meantime don't appear to be coming to fruition, at least yet.</p> Below the Ice: puzzles and secrets in a Half-Life 2 mod http://www.pcgamer.com/below-the-ice-puzzles-and-secrets-in-a-half-life-2-mod/What's the purpose of thishidden Antarctic base?Sun, 25 Jan 2015 10:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/below-the-ice-puzzles-and-secrets-in-a-half-life-2-mod/Half-Life 2Mod of the WeekPuzzle <p> Aperture Science isn't the only one with a secret underground base. Deep in the Antarctic lies a hidden subterranean facility, filled with puzzles, lined with traps, and&nbsp;shrouded in mystery. Why is it there? What is its purpose?&nbsp; <a href="http://www.moddb.com/mods/below-the-ice/news/below-the-ice-is-released">Below the Ice</a>, a mod for Half-Life 2, invites you to find out. Just watch your step.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WehIr1-0Q3av.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VBZGXvA5Tfbi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Below The Ice" class=""> <figcaption>Looks simple, but this place is not your friend.</figcaption></figure><p> The mod begins with you arriving in the Antarctic, where you quickly stumble upon the entrance to a facility buried in a glacier. There's a sign warning against trespassers, which feels a bit pointless. You've either traveled all the way to the <del>north</del> south pole and aren't going to turn around and go home because of a sign, or you're a <del>polar bear</del> penguin and you can't read anyway.</p><p> Entering this facility requires passing a bit of an intelligence test in a number of grid-like puzzle&nbsp;chambers. Many involve the simple pushing of buttons, though figuring out how to reach those buttons, and what those buttons actually do, can take a while. The chambers aren't particularly forgiving if you make a mistake, either. Prepare to be crushed, fried, or fall to your death if you slip up.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hBIP6GVeQ1eC.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/n49s5wgqRVkB.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Below The Ice" class=""> <figcaption>This is how I solve puzzles. With a crowbar.</figcaption></figure><p> Once you've convinced the puzzle chambers&nbsp;you've got a brain in your head, you're granted access to the rest of the facility, which appears to have been abandoned. While exploring, you'll discover living quarters, science labs, and&nbsp;a series of offices. There, you'll&nbsp;begin to piece together the story behind the facility, which ties in to both the fiction of&nbsp;Half-Life 2 and Portal. It's not just a matter of walking around and reading notes: even though you've escaped the test&nbsp;chambers, there are still plenty of puzzles to solve to gain access to the facility's control rooms, observation chambers, and science labs.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3tuuybQNQ8O0.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-uI79tSfUjyE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Below the Ice" class=""> <figcaption>I suspect they're not planning you give you a haircut.</figcaption></figure><p> The more you progress,&nbsp;the more the facility begins to reveal its secrets, and its true&nbsp;size. While you're navigating the place,&nbsp;unlocking doors, turning on lights, locating missing pieces of technology,&nbsp;dabbling in teleportation,&nbsp;and piecing together its&nbsp;history, also keep an eye out for a series of memory sticks. Find enough of them hidden throughout the mod and it will give you an alternate ending.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/upbfJtp-S5ew.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/byjcjxGpQ8_S.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Below the Ice" class=""> <figcaption>Companion cubes aren't quite as heartwarming here.</figcaption></figure><p> There's probably a few hours of play here, depending on your smarts. Some of the puzzles aren't particularly sophisticated: to progress,&nbsp;it's generally more important to carefully examine your surroundings for clues&nbsp;than to be some sort of 10th Level Puzzle Wizard. There's some decent&nbsp;music throughout, and while the map's set&nbsp;dressing is a bit plain, and a few&nbsp;custom textures are a little underwhelming, it's a nice mod if you're in the mood for some gently-paced puzzle&nbsp;solving.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/aZiK2GKJSpah.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/dMBIUPuGUyLC.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Below the Ice" class=""> <figcaption>Dude, I can't solve this with you watching me.</figcaption></figure><p> <a href="http://www.moddb.com/mods/below-the-ice">You can grab the mod here</a> and untangle the mystery for yourself. To install, extract the folder into your sourcemods directory (\Steam\steamapps\sourcemods), and restart Steam. Below the Ice will appear in your library. You'll also require Half-Life 2 and Source SDK Base 2013 single-player. You can find the latter by viewing your Games Library in your Steam client, selecting "Tools," and double-clicking it from the list.</p> Looking ahead to Season 5 in League of Legendshttp://www.pcgamer.com/lol-season-5/A preview of the LoL e-sports play that awaits us this year.Sat, 24 Jan 2015 19:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/lol-season-5/E-sportsLeague of LegendsLoLwatchMOBARiot Games <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-qcb4xNTR6uJ.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PSavBt9CF9C0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="All Star Paris"></p><p>Welcome to Season 5, folks! Rankings have reset, the LCS is back up, and elsewhere in the world the competition's already underway. We've also learned a great deal&mdash;yet again&mdash;about the reliability and predictive value of preseason results.</p><p>That is, we've (re)learned that they are about as trustworthy as a con artist. CJ Entus undefeated in the Korean circuit? Space actually playing like a legitimate AD carry? What strange parallel dimension did we accidentally cross into with the changing of the calendar? Did we somehow slide down the wrong leg of what the great Pratchett would call the <a href="http://wiki.lspace.org/mediawiki/Trousers_of_Time">Trousers of Time</a>? To be fair, we go into every preseason expecting the competitions therein to matter, and this isn't the first year I've had to throw out my expectations come the first few weeks of spring. It turns out that, when only money is on the line, teams feel free to screw around and experiment.</p><p>Or maybe it isn't entirely their fault. Visa issues are a chronic plague to the scene, as even back in 2012 we were having trouble getting players to international events, but the massive Korean exodus is wreaking havoc in one particular scene. Seems like half of the American lineup won't be available in the first week of the LCS, thanks to visa delays&mdash;or, in CLG's continued decline into ignobility, because their managers and players can't be bothered to keep out of trouble (or at least minimize the evidence trail). Poor Russia-based Gambit Gaming suffered many indignities in particular in the last couple years, thanks to immigration issues, though they tenaciously held onto their reputation as among the continent's best for a respectable long while.</p><p>Hopefully, it'll all work out soon enough – and, hopefully, with the knowledge that Worlds will be in Europe this year, everybody's already planning out their attack on the Schengen Area bureaucracy. Everybody including myself: I only need the visa on one passport, but with a Taiwanese-American dual citizenship with both sets of passports due to expire this year, I gotta hock up the cash and schedule appointments in a few months time if I want to get off this island at all.</p><p>And I certainly do. There's a lot happening this year, whether in or out of the game. Plenty to look forward to.</p><h3>Around the world in eight months</h3><p>To reiterate: Worlds is in the EU this year, and it isn't going to be restricted to any one city or region. Riot has decided to continue with the precedent set by the 2014 World Championship by taking the show on the road, with plans to visit multiple countries and play in multiple arenas. Already, the jokes are flying ("can't they just rent out Liechtenstein? All of Liechtenstein."), but that doesn't take away from the hype around their decision. The EU has been an integral part of League of Legends' five years' worth of competitive history: the innovator of what is now commonly deemed the "correct" way to play, and the home of some of its best-respected players.</p><p>Will there be a return to Paris? The French were famously welcoming the last time Riot's tour buses pulled into their storied capital. And, selfishly, I'd like an excuse to hog out on French cuisine straight from the source (though, alas, given the value of the Euro, not for any cheaper). However, the likely end-point might not be within the Schengen Area at all. There's some demands to host possibly the Grand Finals at Wembley Stadium, where the 90,000 seats would go a long ways towards securing supply commensurate to demand.</p><p>I had the privilege of attending the 2014 grand finals at Seoul's Sangam Stadium, boasting a capacity of roughly 67,000. An entire side of it was cordoned off to install the stage and platforms&mdash;I'd heard that the initial plans were to have it in the center of the stadium itself and utilize all available seats, but they were ultimately nixed due to concerns of the damage it might cause to the field. Which is a shame, since all those seats were definitely needed, as the stadium easily filled to capacity otherwise.</p><p>Note that Sangam Stadium's irregularly used for a reason: I am told that even Korea's most popular music groups find it difficult to get a large enough audience in one place to justify the expenditure. And while Riot's directors are claiming that they're not deliberately trying to one-up themselves every year (eventually, they'll simply run out of large-enough stadiums), they might nonetheless be driven to snap up world-class settings by the sheer necessity of the logistics and demand.</p><p>We'll just have to hope that China puts up more of a fight this year, as it'd be disappointing to host 90,000+ crowds for a mere three one-sided games. And nobody would feel the disappointment harder than China would if Korea wins yet again, given how heavily they've invested their efforts to strip the region dry of their best and finest.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/54tUOSlqR92B.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nU_s7NXVWYRU.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Riot Games Sangam Stadium"></p><h3>Personal journey</h3><p>While I'm excited for the Europe tour, and hope to swing some way to embed myself for the full run, what I'm really getting hyped about has more to do with what's coming up for the game, and what impact it will have on skills development.</p><p>I hold, maybe controversially, that the current state of League of Legends is still far short of its strategic potential. And this is across the board, whether we're discussing Korean or North American players. Due to the limitations of the tools available to us, from account level one newbie to South Korean pro player, there's a skill ceiling to reach that we're still, five years in, only dimly aware of.</p><p>The problem is in practice: solo queue encourages you to be a generalist, playing to the needs of the group and requiring you to have a minimum number of "viable" champions in every role and position. Even in Korea, where the midnight queuers will actively demand that a known pro player stick to his role, you're necessarily going to have to play off-roles about a third of the time. But while a generalist approach helps develop an overall sense of the game, it isn't without issue: you only get good at the one or two champions you designated "safe" for that role, and inevitably end up struggling when the metagame shifts away from them. See, of course, Dade circa 2013, when Season 3's assassins summer took a backseat to utility mid laners. Those whiffed Explosive Casks will haunt his nightmares forevermore.</p><p>Even at the level of professional play, this can be a problem. Much as I fanboy over AHQ E-Sports Club's Westdoor, he's known to suffer off assassins (which makes the news of the upcoming Fizz nerfs particularly saddening for his prospects). And it's not yet proven that Unicorns of Love's PowerofEvil is as stellar without Syndra (his Orianna certainly isn't). Do they practice other champions? Absolutely. But being required to practice in the current state of solo queue does them no favors in grinding out the practices and experiences needed for their specific and professional role.</p><p>Thus why I'm happy to hear that Ranked Team Builder is in development. In theory, it's the best possible bridge between the current state of ranked solo queue and actual ranked 5's team play. It still preserves the random matchups and situations of normal solo queue, which is necessary for a player to maintain their individual skill, but the ability to grind endless straight games on single champions and roles is a much better way to tease out every possible nuance out of a wider range of champions. There are no "wasted" games anymore, where a pro player's forced to practice on champions and roles he won't ever see in a LAN situation.</p><p>There is, instead, the possibility of iterative and scientific approaches to getting good. And that's exciting for the game's competitive future.</p><p>Now, if only we had native replay.</p> Face off: Was the Steam Discovery revamp a good move?http://www.pcgamer.com/face-off-was-the-steam-discovery-revamp-a-good-move/Sam and Andy duke it out in the PC Gamer debating arena.Sat, 24 Jan 2015 18:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/face-off-was-the-steam-discovery-revamp-a-good-move/ <div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">FACE OFF</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ZdplOBisSt-M.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QoKS4fWrnEoi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Sam Roberts innit"></p><p><strong>Samuel Roberts, UK editor</strong></p><p>Believes in being deeply personal, even when it crosses the borders of social acceptability.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/30ni3asRQVaL.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/B49J9RZpUPeb.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Andy Kelly innit"></p><p><strong>Andy Kelly, section editor</strong></p><p>Doesn't want a computer choosing his games for him, unless it's a proper android like Data from Star Trek.</p></div><p><em>In Face Off, PC Gamer writers go head to head over an issue affecting PC gaming. Today, Sam and Andy wonder whether last year's big Steam recommendation update was good move for the service.</em></p><p><b style="background-color: initial;">Samuel Roberts</b><strong>: </strong><strong>YES. Valve is trying to let its customers shape their own experience of Steam.&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Steam has long been in need of a revamp. It doesn’t feel like it’s changed much in about five years, and with Steam Discovery&mdash;a name that admittedly makes me think of a doomed 1800s British vessel&mdash;the whole landing page is shaped to my tastes. I mean, it recommends I play Doom 3, so it can’t be entirely perfect, but still. You can even let PC Gamer show you which games to buy with the curator service. How is that a bad thing?</p><p><strong>Andy Kelly:</strong><strong>&nbsp;NO. Curation won't make any difference to Steam's messy storefront.</strong></p><p>I play such a broad spectrum of games on Steam, from Euro Truck Simulator to Max Payne, that its recommendation algorithm can’t possibly have an accurate picture of my tastes. I’m looking at it now, and it’s telling me I should be playing Crypt of the NecroDancer. It’s a good game, no doubt, but it’s not for me. I hate dancing, and fun. The reason Steam’s computer brain has recommended it is because it’s detected that I’ve previously played ‘indie games’. Y’know, that vast, broad spectrum of games that encompasses every genre imaginable. Good job!</p><p><strong>SR:</strong> Well, Steam thinks I’ll like horror games and has recommended Don’t Starve and Half-Life&mdash;that seems pretty spot-on! Plus, it picked up on the fact that I like Alan Wake, and therefore pointed me in the direction of its bizarre, tiny-budget spin-off, American Nightmare. Actually, it’s recommended Crypt of the NecroDancer for me as well. That’s a weird outlier, but it’s still early days, and the attempt at understanding the user’s behaviour is surely positive. Oh... it’s recommending Five Nights At Freddy’s to the PC Gamer account now. I don’t really fancy playing that, though I know some people like it. Does Steam not like me any more? And Murdered: Soul Suspect! Stop it, Steam!</p><p><strong>AK:</strong> You see, this is the problem. A recommendation algorithm will never be 100 per cent accurate, and you might end up buying something like Murdered: Soul Suspect. Then you’ll be sad. The solution here is, in theory, Steam curator lists. Obviously, you can trust any of the games PC Gamer recommends, because we’re brilliant and never wrong, but it’s still just someone’s opinion. I’d rather have a traditional storefront with detailed search tools. I want to be able to, say, go to the RPG section, then arrange&nbsp;games by year, or within a certain Metacritic rating threshold. There are some sorting options on Steam, and the new tagging system, but it’s not as powerful or efficient as it could be.</p><p><strong>SR: </strong>I like that the current system allows for games of all types to get through, though&mdash;Metacritic is far from a perfect measure of what makes a great game, and even seeing some of the nonsense recommended to me adds a bit of colour. Who knows, there might be something I’ll like in there even if some critics don’t. I am the person who’s played Resident Evil 6 for over 30 hours. My criteria is very specific, and sometimes horseshit. What I’m going to do, Andy, is start my own storefront that exclusively recommends BioWare RPGs and indie games with good writing. It’s the only way I can be sure the opinions will be correct.</p><p><strong>AK:</strong> Since we started this debate, Steam has recommended me Farming Simulator. This is likely because I have 30 hours logged in Euro Truck Simulator 2. But just because I like delivering milk to Stuttgart in a heavy-goods vehicle doesn’t mean I want to harvest crops. OK, so it’s good to have games you might not otherwise play suggested to you, because variety is the spice of life and all that, but... well, I don’t really have any argument against that. Look, Steam Discovery might be a step in the right direction, but it’s different, and I hate things that are different.</p><p><strong>SR:</strong> I always thought you were cut out for a farming life more than games journalism, Andy. Not only is Steam recommending new games to you, it’s also choosing you a new path in life. I appreciate everything you bring to PCG, but what if you were to buy a ranch or drive to Grimsby instead? Valve has not only sorted out your next game purchase, it’s resolved the matter of your destiny. You just can’t handle it.</p><p><strong>AK:</strong> I mean, really, the dream is that Gabe Newell comes over to my house and gives me free, temporary access to every game on Steam. We hang out, pound beers, play a bunch of games and find the best ones. Then we become best friends and we go rollerblading and we high five each other and drink milkshakes. Man, that would be the best.</p> Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns announcedhttp://www.pcgamer.com/guild-wars-2-heart-of-thorns-announced/New expansion takes players to the heart of Maguuma JungleSat, 24 Jan 2015 17:41:12 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/guild-wars-2-heart-of-thorns-announced/ArenaNetGuild Wars 2MMONews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kuro9wF1Qcu6.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mYFo5Sso9oaA.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="GW2 HeartOfThorns screenshot 1.4ab012aa"></p><p>That Heart of Thorns would be an expansion pack seemed assured&mdash;especially for those who have been following Guild Wars 2's Living World. Today, ArenaNet announced that that inevitability was, in fact, inevitable. Heart of Thorns is Guild Wars 2's first expansion, and will take players to a brand new area:&nbsp;the Maguuma Jungle.</p><p>Here's the trailer that premiered on the PAX South stage:</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/54ucC9jIiWE?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>ArenaNet calls it the most "detailed and dynamic environment" they've ever created. Expect the expansion to draw on their last few years of updates to populate the new areas with difficult and collaborative events.</p><p>Unusually, for an MMO expansion, Heart of Thorns won't raise the level cap, or add a new tier of gear. Instead, they're introducing a system called Masteries. By completing story, world events and exploration, players will earn Mastery points that can be spent unlocking ways to tame the jungle. Hang-gliders, for instance, will let players glide through the zone, and, at higher levels of Mastery, ride gusts of wind to unlock new areas.</p><p>Players will also be able to customise their characters through Specializations. On stage, game director Colin Johanson gave the example of Rangers becoming Druids&mdash;able to wield staff weapons for the first time in order to gain new healing, utility and elite skills.</p><p>Also announced: a new class. The Revenant is a new heavy armour class that will channel the "Mists"&mdash;Guild Wars's weird, mystical ether&mdash;to call on the spirits of ancient historical legends, using their power to utilise&nbsp;different abilities.</p><p>In addition, the expansion will introduce a new World vs World borderland (with distinct elemental keeps that reward the World that holds them), a new Structured PvP game mode, and Guild Halls. The latter is a place for your guild to own and build up&mdash;utilising it as a base of operations from which to hang out and plan missions and adventures.</p><p>As for the expansion's story, it follows on from the finale of Living Story: Season 2. You can see how that played out in the story trailer below.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/147x-wbCer0?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>This weekend, to celebrate the announcement,&nbsp;<a href="http://buy.guildwars2.com/" target="_blank">Guild Wars 2 is discounted</a> to £8.75/$10. In addition, a double-XP event is running in game.</p> The best current (and upcoming) arena shootershttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-current-and-upcoming-arena-shooters/Arena shooters haven’t changed much over the decades, and they don’t need to.Sat, 24 Jan 2015 17:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-current-and-upcoming-arena-shooters/arena shootersDoomFPSQuakeQuake LiveRatz InstagibToxikkUnreal Tournament The Best Free Games of the Weekhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-free-games-of-the-week-62/Stealth, cyberpunks, platforming and bears - it's all here in this week's free games box social.Sat, 24 Jan 2015 16:33:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-free-games-of-the-week-62/browser gamesFreeIndieThe Best Free Games of the Week <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/jlwCnJNMQraa.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Cbp2c0g6CWE7.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Adams Drive 32"></p><p>I hope you've got your sneaking boots on, your +1 Mace of Unseeing equipped, and, er, your Underpants of Invisibility firmly attached, as you'll need them for a couple of&nbsp;this week's free games, which prioritise hiding over headshots. All that plus anthropomorphic&nbsp;animals, mundane horror, jetpacks and hoverboots - enjoy!</p><h3><a href="http://connor-sherlock.itch.io/condor" target="_blank">Condor by Connor Sherlock</a></h3><iframe width="347" height="280" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/rVDiHgiP3ww" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Condor asks you to ascend a&nbsp;cyberpunk metropolis, with only a jetpack, rocket boots, bionic legs and a personal stealth field at your disposal. Actually, I'd say that&nbsp;you're adequately equipped.&nbsp;This means you can hover across gaps, up walls, and survive falls without turning into liquid&nbsp;cybergoop. You're trying to reach the top of a gleaming&nbsp;spire to transmit an important signal, but really you're navigating a tricky 3D space with a well-defined set of tools, and that's one of my very favourite things to do in games.</p><h3><a href="http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/site/games/game/1873/" target="_blank">Until I Have You by Dualnames, AprilSkies, CaptainD</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oLRw5-VLSzeW.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/89WwUqhjmVE_.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Until I Have You"></p><p>An autorunner of sorts made in Adventure Game Studio, the cyberpunky Until I Have You is quite the technical feat. The controls in this fast, gorgeous platformer are new, interesting and pretty damned&nbsp;infuriating&mdash;you move the sharp-suited fella by dragging the mouse left or right, rather than the tried-and-true direct control method that works so well elsewhere. As you might imagine, controlling the running speed with mouse gestures makes leaping over gaps extraordinarily difficult, but there's something to the art and world design that made me wish I could get to grips with Until I Have You. Perhaps you'll fare better?</p><h3><a href="http://thewhalehusband.itch.io/thestatic" target="_blank">The Static Speaks My Name by Jesse Barksdale</a></h3><iframe width="347" height="280" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/UUmmxstKR3E" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>A&nbsp;dark, creepy first-person horror of sorts that traps you in a cramped environment, with only your delusions and a tub of&nbsp;shrimp to keep you company. This ten-minute game reminded me of Silent Hill 4: The Room - minus the unkillable ghosts, wretched combat, and third-person wandering, of course.</p><h3><a href="http://primaerfunktion.itch.io/adams-drive-32" target="_blank">Adams Drive 32 by René Rother and kubrixXx</a></h3><iframe width="347" height="280" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/HyCGA2UkfeE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>"A sneaky game about infiltrating a mansion, looting it and getting out alive." And a surprisingly polished one with it, featuring an abstract&nbsp;art style that recalls Killer7, and with a tense, espionagey atmosphere that fits with the shadowy building&nbsp;environment perfectly. The actual stealth works pretty well too, relying on limited but learnable AI, and&nbsp;punishing your mistakes - ie getting shot by a guard - with instant death. You're not a Sam Fisher-style killing machine; you're a vulnerable infiltrator with limited resources, and that's exactly how a good&nbsp;stealth hero should be.</p><h3><a href="http://rostok.itch.io/the-bear-the-cat-and-the-rabbit" target="_blank">The Bear, the Cat and the Rabbit by Rostok</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oGE2aHUiSCuO.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5PLD1I6qezfg.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Bear"></p><p>As for The Bear, the Cat and the Rabbit&mdash;huh! In an alternate universe, this isometric-ish adventure&nbsp;came out around the same time as LittleBigAdventure, acting as its dark, apocalyptic twin. Playing as...well as a bear, a cat and a rabbit, you have to first find/rescue each other in a vast dusty wasteland, something considerably harder said than done. Fresh, unusual, funny and strange, this is a puzzle worth figuring out.</p> Life is Strange dev diary discusses time travelhttp://www.pcgamer.com/life-is-strange-dev-diary-discusses-time-travel/The Butterfly Effect, thankfully minus Ashton Kutcher.Sat, 24 Jan 2015 16:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/life-is-strange-dev-diary-discusses-time-travel/AdventureDontnod EntertainmentLife Is StrangeNewsSquare Enix <iframe width="574" height="323" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/NVsMERVjEUg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Dontnod's Remember Me let you rewind memories; Life is Strange lets you rewind <em>time</em>. That's bound to have interesting repercussions in an episodic adventure game, and to that end the developers have outlined how your time power works in the above video, the second in their dev diary series.</p><p>Every time travel story worth its salt establishes its rules and then adheres to them slavishly, and by the sounds of it Life is Strange might be one of the good ones. Choices/actions in the story can be rewound using protagonist Max's special power, but any items she may have acquired in the process will be kept on her person. Meanwhile, Max remains motionless as she uses her mysterious&nbsp;powers, so you won't be able to run around in time travel mode. Booooo.&nbsp;There's also a neat double exposure visual effect active&nbsp;while you undo time, underlying the fact that Max is into photography.</p><p>The first episode of Life is Strange is out January 30th; you can watch the first dev diary, and check out the system requirements&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/life-is-strange-serves-up-system-requirements-and-first-dev-diary/" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> Battlefield Hardline's modes and maps detailedhttp://www.pcgamer.com/battlefield-hardlines-modes-and-maps-detailed/They're pretty much what you'd expect.Sat, 24 Jan 2015 15:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/battlefield-hardlines-modes-and-maps-detailed/Battlefield HardlineElectronic ArtsFPSNewsVisceral Games <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Bn9JwS_ySben.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tNBFfx38xLnF.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Battlefield Hardline"></p><p>Battlefield Hardline might be racing around the corner like that guy on that bike up there, but we still have time to learn slightly more about it before it busts onto hard drives the world over on March 17th. EA and Visceral have had a blowout of sorts on the Hardline site, revealing all the maps and all the modes we can expect to shoot&nbsp;each other in upon release. Let's have a little look at them, shall we?</p><p>Hardline's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.battlefield.com/hardline/features/modes" target="_blank">modes</a> don't contain too many surprises, comprising Battlefield favourites Conquest and Team Deathmatch, along with the cash-hungry Blood Money mode,&nbsp;the Payday-ish Heist, and the exciting-sounding Hotwire mode. (Exciting-sound because it's basically&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/battlefield-hardlines-hotwire-mode-is-like-need-for-speed-with-rocket-launchers/" target="_blank">Need for Speed with rocket launchers</a>.)</p><p>But wait: there's more.&nbsp;Rescue&nbsp;is "a cop-centric mode that lets you step into the boots of a SWAT operative tasked with saving innocent lives from the hands of criminals.&nbsp;Lead your team carefully into dangerous environments and get the hostages back to safety. Be careful though, because there are no second chances in this mode". Crosshair, meanwhile, is the criminal flipside of the above, putting you in the shoes of a bunch of wrong'uns trying to murder&nbsp;a witness before he can testify against them. EA/Visceral describe the previous as the game's two 'competitive' modes, but it's not clear what that means in this context. Surely all these modes are competitive?</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7ViWeFhJRE26.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WYdeOgoiN8-w.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Dust Bowl"></p><p>Those&nbsp;<a href="http://www.battlefield.com/hardline/features/maps" target="_blank">maps</a>&nbsp;are a little more self-explanatory, comprising a&nbsp;bank premises, city streets, a&nbsp;Breaking Bad-style desert town (seriously, it's a dead ringer), a&nbsp;palatial mansion, swampland and a couple of drug dens. Basically: all the places cops and robbers tend to hang out. There are no libraries, is what I'm saying.</p><p>Hardline is heading back into beta&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/battlefield-hardline-going-back-into-beta-soon/" target="_blank">soon</a>, ahead of its release in mid-March.</p> Retaking Questshttp://www.pcgamer.com/retaking-quests/It takes more than a word to make us stop thinking of something as crapwork.Sat, 24 Jan 2015 09:30:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/retaking-quests/Critical Paths <figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/U1o-q2KKShyu.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9S-GXcjznG54.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="NONE WILL STOP ME GETTING YOUR ORANGE JUUUUUUUUUUUUICE!" class=""> <figcaption>NONE WILL STOP ME GETTING YOUR ORANGE JUUUUUUUUUUUUICE!</figcaption></figure><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">CRITICAL PATHS</h5><p>Every week,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.richardcobbett.com">Richard Cobbett</a> writes about the wonderful world of story and writing in games.</p></div><p>Adventurers, I have a quest for you. I want you to save the honour of the word 'quest'. It currently lies, bound and gagged, in the middle of a tower made of meaningless crapwork. Help me return it to its days of glory, when a quest was something to aspire to, to put fire in the blood, and not merely some designer trying to artificially slap some drama onto their busywork. Never again should we sit idly by as trumpets blare and fireworks explode in the sky to hail us as the champions who dared to pick up five apples and give them to some lazy git standing just a mild jog away in exchange for a few measly drops of XP.</p><p>A quest should mean something. It's a word steeped in epic stories and tales of gold and glory. It is a word that brings to mind dragons and princesses in towers, of ancient treasure and threats of potentially world-destructive power. In recent years though, especially with the rise of casual games and mobiles, it's been watered down so much as to be meaningless. Game characters don't go shopping, they go on a quest to the marketplace. Building a small hut is hardly a quest, yet quite often simply picking up the wood is treated as if you were King Arthur himself, sipping Soda-Stream from the Holy Grail. I'm not calling it out as a particularly bad offender you understand, but at one point in Final Fantasy XIV, you get a fireworks display and proud musical sting... for getting someone orange juice. Fie on that, I say! <em>Enough!</em></p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RDs9AHI5R_yk.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/JdB6HLhbi3rV.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="NO! Sorry, Blizzard, but rules are rules! I'll expect a hotfix immediately." class=""><figcaption>NO! Sorry, Blizzard, but rules are rules! I'll expect a hotfix immediately.</figcaption></figure><p>Honestly, this is symptomatic of a larger problem, that many games - some of them not even from Ubisoft - currently feel compelled to fill worlds with endless meaningless crapwork to pad out the running time and fully mock the idea of actually doing anything interesting in locations like realistic open-world cities. But that's another rant. For the moment, I'd be okay if we could just sort out the taxonomy issue here, and for that I have a few suggestions. The first I think is the fairest, and simplest. Since the word 'Quest' is primarily misused due to having simply become the Accepted Word To Use, we need to agree on&nbsp;a suitable alternative that is closer to the actual truth.</p><p>I would like to propose <strong>"Shit To Do"</strong>. If everyone accepts this, and I see no reason why they would not immediately, Shit To Do will proudly&nbsp;sit&nbsp;next to the Quest Log of every game character from now on, and filter objectives accordingly. It will work something like this. Find The Lost Sword of the Hundredfold Emperor. That is a quest. Find a small child's doll? Shit To Do. At any point in the game you can simply glance at it and think to yourself "Well, I have nothing else to do with the precious gift that is my short&nbsp;existence, so sure, why not?", or alternatively, focus on the business at hand.</p><p>It's such a simple tweak, but one I think would be to all our benefits. It means that valuable questing time isn't wasted, yet there is still scope to do random acts of kindness for those in need. I mean,&nbsp;I'm not knocking the potential importance of&nbsp;Shit To Do, especially to the people requesting a hero's assistance. There is no shame in Doing much Shit to, say, raise money for the actual Quest, or to boost your presence in a town, or for the benefits that go with it. A blacksmith's Shit To Do for instance could be the first stage in persuading them to forge you a mighty blade that will come in very helpful on your actual Quest. Conversely, it might turn out later on that what initially seemed like a mighty Quest was actually, in the great sweep of things, merely Shit To Do. In moving one from the other, you can see your evolution as a hero, and how yesterday's great challenge was merely a prelude to your true adventures. A bit like how in something like World of Warcraft, you fight evil world-conquering sorcerers at Level 10.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5DHKD0t5Tyqv.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Z0b3uAT5tQ_B.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Citizens! Adventurers are here! Form an orderly line with your Shit To Do!" class=""><figcaption>Citizens! Adventurers are here! Form an orderly line with your Shit To Do!</figcaption></figure><p>The nice thing about Shit To Do is that it's so flexible. It covers everything from a humble collection quest to errands. Heck, in most cases 'Quest' is but a wrapper around many of these smaller tasks. What matters is the overall sweep of it; how important it truly is. To help with this, I've assembled this quick table to help you, and the developers I am almost positive are even now implementing this change.</p><table><tbody><tr><td><strong>QUEST</strong></td><td><strong>SHIT TO DO</strong></td></tr><tr><td>Save the kingdom</td><td>Save a kitten</td></tr><tr><td>Collect three&nbsp;pieces of a magic sword</td><td>Collect ten&nbsp;bear asses</td></tr><tr><td>Go to Hell</td><td>Go to Hull</td></tr><tr><td>Beat up a necromancer</td><td>Beat up some rats</td></tr><tr><td>Anything involving a Dragon</td><td>Anything involving Kim Kardashian</td></tr></tbody></table><p>I like to think that this will be the starting point for a new set of ground&nbsp;rules that will be as codified into gaming culture as the ability to do a double-jump in the air and that the correct number of lives is three. Over time, we can tighten it up. Anything for instance that you can accomplish with a single tap on an iPad screen will be automatically disqualified. Heroes with more than, say, three quests at a time will be shunned for not taking any of them seriously enough, given the stakes that by this point will be established. To compensate, developers will of course initially just fill the Shit To Do list like normal, only to look at it, murmur "Wow, that's a lot of shit..." and then slowly start to wonder if maybe more time should be spent on filling up&nbsp;that whole "Quest" side of the journal screen. It'll mean a few NPCs go without their orange juice, sure,&nbsp;but that's a sacrifice I'm willing for them to make. Let the lazy buggers get it themselves.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/k_NeMAtwQHaI.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9eRwsGvCYODD.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Okay, sometimes the line between 'Quest' and 'Shit To Do' WILL still get blurred..." class=""> <figcaption>Okay, sometimes the line between 'Quest' and 'Shit To Do' WILL still get blurred...</figcaption></figure><p>The big picture though is much simpler. When everything is falsely&nbsp;treated as special, nothing is. Completing a Quest shouldn't simply be important to the world, it should feel important, not just another line of a shopping list crossed off along with 'bought milk' and 'built storehouse'. A little like Achievements, there's no point if something hasn't been Achieved. What's meant to make you feel good about that accomplishment just renders it utterly hollow. Under this system, there could still be recognition of Shit successfully Done, it'd just be a more restrained one. A polite round of applause and a voice saying "Goodness me, well done," perhaps. Save the fireworks for when there's something to hail and celebrate, and everyone will inevitably enjoy them far more.</p><p>To be reasonable, I'm giving the industry three months to action this change and bring their games into line with the new order. If not, I will immediately set out on a noble quest to&nbsp;strike them down with flame and fire. Unless of course, some random&nbsp;Shit To Do gets in the way. It has an annoying tendency to do that,&nbsp;after all.</p> Mouse-Box is a concept PC in the palm of your hand, literallyhttp://www.pcgamer.com/mouse-box-is-a-concept-pc-in-the-palm-of-your-hand-literally/This is a very small PC.Sat, 24 Jan 2015 02:09:31 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/mouse-box-is-a-concept-pc-in-the-palm-of-your-hand-literally/gaming miceHardwareNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VR_g2sBjT8-n.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1EgatWO7Am3f.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="MouseBox"></p><p>Thanks to new processors getting smaller and smaller, we've seen plenty of palm-sized computers. Well, a new computer concept has taken that idea to the extreme.</p><p>The&nbsp;<a href="http://mouse-box.com/">Mouse-Box</a> is a concept for a quad-core 1.4GHz PC packed into a mouse. It has two USB 3.0 ports, Micro HDMI, Wifi, and 128GB of storage. Naturally, all the standard things a mouse would have&mdash;motion sensor, buttons, etc&mdash;are packed in there too.</p><p>It's quite a feat, though the Mouse-Box is still just a concept. Still though, it's an interesting idea to think about the things we'll be packing PCs into in the coming months and years.</p><p><a href="http://gizmodo.com/this-concept-mouse-has-a-whole-computer-inside-it-1680886768"><em>Thanks, Gizmodo</em></a><em><br></em></p> Three card game alternatives to Hearthstonehttp://www.pcgamer.com/three-card-game-alternatives-to-hearthstone/We talk a lot about Hearthstone, but here are a fewother CCGs worth trying.Fri, 23 Jan 2015 23:40:27 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/three-card-game-alternatives-to-hearthstone/Card GameHearthstoneScrollsSolForgeStrategy <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/n98doK1_Tm-o.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PhQpl1SB9Eiw.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Caller Wallpaper W Logo scrolls"></p><p> The observant Murloc botherers among you will already know that we’ve got a lot of love for <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone/">Hearthstone</a> and the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/cultural-phenomenon-2014-hearthstone/">effect it’s had</a>. But not everyone’s convinced that it’s the digital CCG for them. Hearthstone still gets criticized for lacking the depth of Magic: The Gathering, for relying on RNG effects, and for the grind of ranked ladder play. When we run our weekly article about the game, someone in the comments invariably suggests we take a look at something else. Well, here we go.</p><p> I've taken&nbsp;a look at some of Hearthstone's key competitors. They may not have the production value of a Blizzard game, but each one provides something different in terms of style and systems which may pique your interest in a way that Hearthstone doesn’t. And, if nothing else, there’s no danger of encountering a Knife Juggler in any of them. “Put this apple on your&hellip;” NO BECAUSE I KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7wegWDPdRP29.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ze6B64pnyp2v.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Scrolls" style="background-color: initial;"></p><h1>Scrolls</h1><p> Scrolls is the second full release from Minecraft-makers Mojang. First announced at the start of 2011, it spent a year in closed testing, then another in open beta, before finally&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/scrolls-review/">launching publicly last December</a>. Apart from the regular versus mode, the results of that protracted development cycle include daily challenge scenarios against the AI, ranked play, and an Arena-style drafting mode called Judgement.</p><h3>How’s it different?</h3><p> Scrolls shakes up the standard CCG format by adding that classic strategy game staple: a hex board. When you play a creature card, you choose a spot on your side of the board for it to appear, forcing you to think not just about what creatures you put in your deck, but also how you’ll position them when they hit the battlefield. There are a few other digital card games that focus on careful positioning, but none quite so heavily as Scrolls. It almost feels like a board game, but the card collecting and deck building aspects keep it within the CCG realm.</p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Deck building</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/fwlt6gVGRpC6.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/elHN-JMXNmYk.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Scrolls deckbuilding" style="background-color: initial;"> </p> <p> <em>Click the arrows in the top-right corner to enlarge.</em> </p> </div><p> Instead of a life total, you and your opponent both have five idols, one at the end of each row. Destroy three of your opponent’s idols and you win, so trying to capitalize on exposed idols while blocking off your own is key. Each creature attacks after a certain number of turns, striking whatever is directly in front of it. You can’t do anything on your opponent’s turn, but the attack timers on creatures give you long enough to set up your defenses to disrupt their next move.</p><p> Scrolls is lovely to look at. There are a suite of different battlefields to play on, and each playstyle has creatures and card art that suit them. You can purchase different looking characters and idols with in-game or real money to add a more custom personality to your fights. It would be nearly impossible to reach the level of detail and ease of use that Hearthstone’s interface has, but there's a lot more going on in&nbsp;Scrolls.</p><p> Another significant difference is the way Scrolls handles mana. Each turn, you’re allowed to sacrifice a card to either draw two new cards, or gain a permanent increase to a specific kind of mana. Your mana regenerates at the beginning of each turn, but it doesn’t automatically scale up as it does in Hearthstone. This can force you into some unpleasant discards, but it also frees up your deck building options. For those familiar with Magic: The Gathering, you don’t need to fill your deck with mana cards that could possibly become dead draws. For those familiar with Hearthstone, you don’t need to worry about putting card draw into your deck as much.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/wa9LcIqdSk6x.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/heGIYFyI86m7.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Scrolls card"></p><h3>Why should I play it?</h3><p> Scrolls is a great choice if you are looking for a CCG that has a bit more depth without a lot more complexity. While there aren’t nearly as many unique or surprising card mechanics as found in Hearthstone, the hex board adds an extra layer of thinking to each turn. Additionally, collecting cards feels much less exhausting, with gold for packs coming quickly and the option to buy different specific cards each day.</p><p> Scrolls has a free trial, which can be upgraded to the full version for $5 on its <a href="https://scrolls.com/">official site</a>.</p><h2><br><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iyWGIE9WTISN.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7Skk8dDKYwbp.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Hex "></p></h2><h1>Hex</h1><p>Hex is a free-to-play CCG currently in open beta that tries harder than any other digital card game I’ve played to emulate the business model used by physical card games. You begin by choosing a race and class, which affects the cards and abilities you start with, and has further implications in the campaign mode, which is yet to be implemented. At present the play options are a standard versus mode and a built-in tournament format</p><h3>How’s it different?</h3><p>As far as I can tell, Hex really wants to be Magic: The Gathering, because it plays almost identically. This means it uses 60-card decks, enables you to play cards on your opponent’s turn, its creatures go back to full health at the end of combat, and a lot of other stuff that will feel unfamiliar for&nbsp;Hearthstone players. Combat is one of the biggest points of difference, as you don’t get to choose what your creatures attack. You declare which of your creatures are attacking and your opponent decides which of their creatures will block, or if they’ll just allow the damage through. This means turns take much longer as every time your opponent does something, you get the option to respond.</p><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">deck building</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/GkQbGVcuT0ms.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9s7_soSpB3AJ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Hex Deck Building" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p><em>Click the arrows in the top-right corner to enlarge.</em></p></div><p>However, Hex isn’t simply digital Magic&mdash;which of course already exists, but not in a state that makes it&nbsp;worth mentioning here. In contrast, Hex makes a virtue of the fact that it’s a whole new game designed from the ground up for computer screens rather than tabletops. It introduces a number of complex cards that wouldn’t be realistic in a paper-based CCG&mdash;socketed cards that you can customize with different abilities, for example&mdash;as well as character powers that function similarly to Hearthstone’s hero powers. It’s an interesting mix of the two games and will definitely please people who think Hearthstone dumbed the formula down too much.</p><p>Even with everything that’s going on, Hex has made the battle screen easy to understand. Unique symbols represent each phase of a turn and an icon on the left tells you who currently has priority to make decisions. It can get a little bit confusing when there are a lot of cards on the board, but considering how much is happening at those times it could be a lot worse. The card art has a great style, but the lack of any substantial battle animations makes combat feel flat, especially compared to Hearthstone’s satisfying crunch followed by the roar of the crowd on hard hits.</p><p>Probably the most divisive change is how you grow your card collection in Hex. After a few tutorial missions you’re left with some gold and a single booster pack. From there you only have two ways to get new cards: purchase booster packs with real money or bid for specific cards in the auction house with gold. This is no different than how any real world card game works, with the auction house being Hex’s version of a card shop or trading with your friends. If you aren’t planning on spending money on Hex, creating a workable collection will be incredibly slow going.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1h7ucVX6SMSo.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3VPeh0OoswZw.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Hex card"></p><h3>Why should I play it?</h3><p>Hex is much more similar to playing a paper card game, meaning it will appeal to the same people who don’t mind buying card packs with actual money in real life. The ability to play cards on your opponent’s turn gives Hex a lot of the extra strategy that people complain is missing from Hearthstone, but the game moves much more&nbsp;slowly as a result. There’s a huge amount of depth to discover here, but the process of collecting enough cards and learning the systems might be too exhausting for those looking to just relax.</p><p>Hex is free-to-play and can be downloaded from its <a href="https://hextcg.com/">official site</a>.</p><h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qxWGxcm3S3qb.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PxpuxSIrBWZp.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Solforge"></p></h2><h1>SolForge</h1><p>SolForge is a free-to-play CCG currently on Steam Early Access, but has already gathered a small competitive following. This isn’t surprising, as it features multiple tournament modes built-in to accompany the standard versus mode. SolForge has been developed by the designers of Ascension and Magic: The Gathering, including the father of CCGs himself, Richard Garfield. It will eventually also feature a campaign mode. </p><h3>How’s it different?</h3><p>This is another card game that plays with the idea of positioning. SolForge breaks away from a lot of the tropes that Magic popularized. You each have five slots for creatures, most of which can’t move once they’ve been played. Each turn, every creature that can attack does so, trading damage with the creature directly opposite it. If there isn’t a creature to take the hit, they deal damage to the opponent’s health, which starts at 100. There are many creatures and cards that take advantage of being adjacent to other creatures or in a specific spot on the playing field.</p><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">deck building</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/A69c1b1FSASu.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xqe4p_uDo6p-.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Solforge deck building"></p><p><em style="background-color: initial;">Click the arrows in the top-right corner to enlarge.</em></p></div><p>The positioning is an interesting change, but damage is still dealt similarly to Hearthstone. The biggest change by far is how you draw and play cards in SolForge. Each turn, you draw five cards from your deck and have the option to play two of them, with no mana costs or restrictions, while the rest are discarded. As in scrolls, this makes mana and draw mechanics a non-issue when you are building decks, and instead forces you into making trade-offs. If you draw three cards you want to play, you need to decide which is the least valuable in your current situation and which might be more valuable to you later.</p><p>A card’s long-term value matters even more because of SolForge’s last major change. Every card in your deck has three levels of strength and all start at level one. When you choose to play a card, a leveled up version of it is put back into your deck for you to draw later. Because there’s no mana, your late-game cards are simply leveled up versions of the cards you’ve already played. There will never be a situation in SolForge when you draw all of your eight mana cards by turn three and can’t play anything&mdash;the game is designed to always scale into the late-game. </p><p>Being in Early Access still, SolForge’s graphics leave a lot to be desired. The card art itself is fantastic&mdash;each card changes as it levels up and it feels great to see your creatures look stronger as they gain power&mdash;but battle animations are a simple nudge forward into the opposing creature. Additionally, the UI needs a lot of work, as SolForge doesn’t quite have a clear visual language yet. If your opponent takes their turn quickly, it can be very easy for new players to miss what happened, and the game log is hidden in a menu. SolForge becomes easier to understand visually the more you play, but the UI and deckbuilding screens will be a bit frustrating until the game is finished.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RzEe00fERTKE.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NAoyw-EYQjJg.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Solforge 2015-01-23 11-55-36-40"></p><h3>Why should I play it?</h3><p>SolForge is for people who are bored with what they know. It disrupts the&nbsp;CCG formula, and is being developed by the people who invented and refined that formula. Fair warning, though:&nbsp;it's&nbsp;definitely still in Early Access. The UI is unintuitive and the tutorial does a good job at teaching you the basics, but not much in the way of helping you understand why particular moves make sense. There is a complex CCG at SolForge’s core, but you might have to work a bit to get to grips with it. </p><p>SolForge is free-to-play and can be downloaded on <a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/232450/">Steam</a> or its <a href="http://solforgegame.com/">official site</a>.</p> The week's highs and lows in PC gaminghttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-weeks-highs-and-lows-in-pc-gaming_Jan23/Each week PC Gamer’s writers pan for nuggets of shiny opinion in the timestream of the past seven days. Ooh, a golden rant!Fri, 23 Jan 2015 23:03:46 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-weeks-highs-and-lows-in-pc-gaming_Jan23/highs and lows <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1PsbTs9GSe2a.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mz0E3WlNkOqR.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="H1Z1 highs and lows"></p><p><strong>THE&nbsp;HIGHS</strong></p><p><strong>Chris L. H1Z-Fun?<br></strong>H1Z1's alpha launch, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/h1z1-launch-impressions-battling-zombies-players-and-server-issues/">marked by long server outages and other issues</a>, was my low last week. While the game still has a long, long way to go, I did have a fun session recently, and realized something important: the game is so new it's not full of horrible terrible evil murderous people yet.</p><p>Example: I ran into a fresh-spawn being chased by two wolves, and I beat the animals to death with a stick while he stood out of reach on some haybales. He thanked me, told me he had a friend in the next town he was trying to link up with, and invited me to come along. This set off my internal alarm: in DayZ, anyone inviting you to come with him to meet a friend in the next town is luring you into a trap involving murder, robbery, or general humiliation.</p><p>This was legit, though. We found his friend, who was just as pleasant, and the three of us ran to a police station, at which point I left them. A little later, I ran into a third guy who, as it happens, was trying to find the first two guys I had met. I led him back to the police station for a reunion, and we all traded food and medical supplies after killing a bunch of zombies together. At no point did any of them shoot me in the face or hold me up or strip me to my underwear or beat me to death.</p><p>Granted, the tension-filled player encounters of DayZ, horrifying as they can be, are part of what makes DayZ so compelling. (I used to<a href="http://heyareyoucool.tumblr.com/"> run a tumblr about my experiences</a>.) But for now, I'm happy to have run into some nice, friendly folks. Later, four other players repeatedly tried to run me over with the police car they were driving. Then I was killed by a bear.</p><p><strong>Evan Lahti: Storefront<br></strong>I think we’ve all taken swipes at Origin&mdash;it’s definitely still a service that’s finding its legs beyond being a launcher for Battlefield, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age&mdash;but its mere existence is something we continue to benefit from as PC gamers. Folks that play on other platforms essentially have one choice of store&mdash;Microsoft’s, Nintendo’s, or Sony’s&mdash;and retail options will continue to narrow as digital distribution becomes as ubiquitous on consoles as it has been on PC for years. Steam is certainly the giant, but its competition continues to throw incentives at us, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/theme-hospital-is-origins-latest-on-the-house-freebie/">as Origin did this week</a>, to give people a reason to consider them. Part of me hopes that we’ll see Steam’s dominance of the market degrade further, because it’s ultimately in our interest.<strong><br></strong></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YfIc3W7-TGC9.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/OXFAPSvWdt4l.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars slide"></p><p><strong>Samuel Roberts: Star Wars!<br></strong>I have to hand it to GOG and Disney&mdash;Lucasarts was, frankly, useless at getting its back catalogue on Steam following the first drop of titles in 2009, and serious money was being left on the table by not getting the likes of X-Wing Alliance, Rogue Squadron et al on a digital distribution platform. This week, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/rogue-squadron-3d-and-rebellion-added-to-gogs-star-wars-catalogue/">GOG re-released</a> some of the best Star Wars games ever, running smoothly on Windows 7 and 8, and is quickly approaching a full collection of the greatest ones Lucasarts made in their time. It makes me think Disney might end up being better custodians of the Star Wars games than Lucasarts were.<strong><br></strong></p><p>Do all these games hold up? Well, I haven’t had the chance to sample X-Wing Alliance again yet&mdash;that’s this weekend’s plan&mdash;but Rogue Squadron is okay as an arcade-style shooter, even though it doesn’t seem to play nice with any of my USB devices on laptop (I’m not the only one, judging by <a href="http://www.gog.com/forum/star_wars_rogue_squadron_3d#1422009336">the forum</a>, but I will keep trying) and it’s hand-breakingly hard to play on just a keyboard. There are certain things about that game that made sense to me as a kid that no longer add up for me as an adult. Mostly nerdy things. In the first chapter set on Tatooine, why is the Empire bombing Mos Eisley? Why is every landspeeder exactly the same as Luke Skywalker’s, and why did they send imperial probe droids to blow up moisture farms instead of little stormtrooper guys? Aren’t they meant for reconnaissance? Is Jabba’s Palace really a 5-minute drive (or 20-minute walk) from Mos Eisley? The answer to all of these questions, of course, is who gives a crap. Star Wars!</p><p><strong>Wes Fenlon:&nbsp;</strong><strong>Smitten with my favorite PC Gamer show<br></strong>Okay, so the Smite World Championship actually happened a couple weeks ago&mdash;but <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pc-gamer-show-smite-world-championship-behind-the-scenes/">our episode of the PC Gamer Show going behind the scenes of the event</a> just went up, and it's definitely the highlight of my week. With this video, we had a chance to do more than cover the basics of who won and lost the tournament. We got to go backstage and see the command center for the event, with more than a dozen Hi-Rez staffers (most of them in their early 20s) running cameras and sound and a live Twitch broadcast. It was their first tournament of this scale, but they knocked it out of the park. I talked to Hi-Rez's bosses about how they put the whole thing together, which is part of the show. Even if you're not a Smite player, if you like MOBAs or other e-sports, I think you'll dig it.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/eIDB_wyASR2M.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3b3XrYEZUBOz.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Galactic Civ 3 Slide"></p><p><strong>Tom Senior: Spaceblam!<br></strong>This week I got quite excited about <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/new-galactic-civilizations-3-beta-introduces-the-battle-viewer/">Galactic CIvilizations 3’s “battle viewer”</a> mode that lets you watch your custom spaceships massacre the enemy with lasers you’ve bought and installed. That probably means I should think about getting in on the Early Access build, but if I’m going to invest 70 hours in a dense strategy game, I’d rather it was finished, tested and balanced first. I might scratch my urge to do space war this weekend by returning to one of the space-laseriest games of them all: <a href="http://positech.co.uk/gratuitousspacebattles/">Gratuitous Space Battles</a>.<strong><br></strong></p><p><strong>Phil Savage: A smattering of games<br></strong>Received wisdom tells us that January is a slow month for games, and yet, this week, my inbox has been full of people telling me to check out cool things. Whatever the AAA industry may or may not be up to, someone somewhere is definitely making a game.</p><p>Here's a sample of what came my way. On Kickstarter, the charming <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/children-of-morta-brings-family-drama-and-dungeon-crawling-to-kickstarter/">Children of Morta</a>, the genre-bending <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/starr-mazer-is-part-shmup-part-point-n-click-adventure/">Starr Mazer</a> and the '90s aping <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/strafe-sidles-onto-kickstarter-has-interesting-trailer/">Strafe</a>. On Early Access, the fiendish <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/spacechem-developers-infinifactory-arrives-on-early-access/">Infinifactory</a> and the perplexing <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/soul-axiom-trailer-shows-sci-fi-adventure-spatial-puzzling/">Soul Axiom</a>. And on Greenlight, the ontological <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pneuma-breath-of-life-brings-its-philosphical-puzzling-to-greenlight/">Pneuma</a> and the experimental <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/her-story-is-an-live-action-crime-story-now-on-greenlight/">Her Story</a>. Each unique in its own way, and it’s hopefully a sign that 2015 will packed with diverse new experiences. And hey, if absolutely none of that appeals, you can always pretend to be <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/call-of-duty-advanced-warfare-trailer-shows-exo-zombies-footage/">John Malkovich</a>. Top work, video games!</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/u7qTCYA3T627.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gyZdV-suwSFd.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="CS:GO highs and lows"></p><p><strong>THE&nbsp;LOWS</strong></p><p><strong>Evan Lahti: Hacking away<br></strong>High-level hacking continues to eat away at CS:GO’s integrity as an e-sport. After two teams were <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/csgo-competitive-scene-embroiled-in-hacking-scandal-as-three-players-are-banned/">prohibited from competing</a> at DreamHack Winter 2014, another (albeit much smaller) scandal has emerged with similarly poor timing. Just as the first big tournament of the year, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/csgo-e-sports-2015-preview/">MLG Aspen</a>, is beginning today, a video of <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/csgo-player-flex-banned-during-esea-league-livestream/">an ESEA league player being banned mid-match</a> is making the rounds. The banned player, Flex, isn’t a pro-level competitor like those playing at MLG this weekend, but his behavior and <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/GlobalOffensive/comments/2tdahc/flex_of_team_esp_eseamain_gets_banned_mid_match/cny3iv5">awful, immature response</a> reinforce the unsettling idea that competitive CS:GO is still lawless territory. Valve needs to take more ownership and responsibility for policing CS:GO as an e-sport and beyond. The competitive scene and Valve are quite disconnected from one another, as evidenced by the criticism that Virtus.Pro’s Pasha levied at Valve <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYYYabfyfOU&amp;feature=share">in a livestream</a> recently.<strong><br></strong></p><p><strong>Chris L.: Phish Phail<br></strong>1,800 Minecraft usernames and passwords <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/mojang-says-it-has-not-been-hacked/">were leaked this week</a>, though Mojang was quick to reset the passwords for those accounts and reassured everyone they hadn't been hacked. The account information was apparently stolen via phishing scams.<strong><br></strong></p><p>This is a double-low, really, because stealing passwords to a video game is lame, and because frankly... 1,800 passwords? Are we supposed to be impressed?</p><p>There's a hundred million registered Minecraft users, and you come away with account info from a paltry 1,800 of them? And then you leak them online like it's some sort of ripping accomplishment? With a userbase that massive I could probably sit here and correctly guess that many passwords. It's the equivalent of the Ocean's 11 gang assembling in Vegas, planning for weeks, and walking out triumphantly with a couple of stale Slim Jims stuffed down their pants stolen from a corner mart. You stink, phishers, both for stealing and for doing such a pisspoor job of it.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6hsN2SMiS-GQ.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/dAilTr1NtSAX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fable Legends Slide"></p><p><strong>Samuel Roberts: Xbox One games on PC<br></strong>I was slightly encouraged rather than blown away by Microsoft’s discussions about PC gaming this week. I think <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fable-legends-coming-to-pc/">Fable Legends coming to PC</a> can only be a good thing&mdash;it’s an extra game that was previously a console exclusive, and that’s very cool&mdash;but I was left a bit confused by the overall strategy, which seemed to contradict itself a bit. On the one hand, you’ll be able to stream Xbox One games through a PC, the appeal of which we’ll hopefully be able to judge in the near future. But then Fable Legends coming to PC sort of makes me wonder if I should just hold on for more ports, rather than getting an Xbox One alongside my current setup.</p><p>It’s nice to see Microsoft experimenting with PC gaming in a way that doesn’t threaten a whole service that’ll eventually end up sunk on the ocean floor, while major publishers gradually salvage their games from it over many years, but there’s a lot to clarify about where their focus is going to be with Windows 10. More Xbox One-exclusive games on PC? Fantastic. I am completely on-board with that.</p><p><strong>Wes Fenlon:&nbsp;</strong><strong>HoloLens has potential, but let's not get carried away</strong><br>Unlike Sam, I'm excited about the prospect of streaming Xbox One games to a PC, because there's a decent chance Microsoft will also add streaming going the other way: PC to Xbox One. Phil Spencer said it's something they're looking at. If that works out, it could solve the "living room PC" problem for a lot of multiplatform gamers. Since this is my low of the week, though, I have to be a bit of a downer and mention HoloLens.</p><p>HoloLens is actually pretty cool, and I'm really excited about the prospect of augmented reality combining the real world with virtual projections. But I'm also aware that it's hugely challenging, and <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/microsoft-hololens-hands-on-the-promise-and-disappointment-of-ar/">HoloLens didn't convince me that Microsoft will be able to nail it with this hardware</a>. The demos I tried showcased a bit of that interaction, but suffered from a fairly limited field of view. And they also didn't show what the process of scanning your environment will be like for the HoloLens. It left me with a lot of doubts and questions, and I think Microsoft will have answers for them as the tech gets closer to final hardware. Again, HoloLens is cool. I just saw a lot of "blown away" and "magical" headlines floating around this week, and that's not what I got from the experience at all. Keep your expectations for HoloLens reasonable, and it may eventually surprise and delight you when it arrives.</p><p><strong></strong></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6A46EnBYRsuS.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/UN_7AOHNKSxK.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Gat out of hell slide"></p><p><strong>Phil Savage: Damned shame<br></strong>Everyone has their own opinion about what a Saints Row game should be. There are, however, hard, immutable rules for what a Saints Row game shouldn't be. Rule #1: a Saints Row game should never be apologetic.<strong><br></strong></p><p>There's a mission in Saints Row: The Third that summarises everything the series would come to be. It's as you parachute into what is about to become the Saints' new Steelport HQ, and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxDZv_1NcMs">the soundtrack kicks in</a> with Kanye West's Power because of course it does. I don't think any other series could get away with that; not even GTA. It just doesn't have the same fuck-it-all swagger.</p><p>Saints Row IV was that moment but more so. <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/saints-row-gat-out-of-hell-review/">Gat Out of Hell</a>? Not so much. It tries, and it does some amazing things, but there's an uncertainty to the game that undermines the entire thing. It chips away at its most confident moments with fourth-wall breaking half-jokes about the constraints of its development. It tries to own it, but instead comes across as being insecure.</p><p>I don't have a big wishlist of things I want Saints Row 5 to be. Whatever form it takes, though, it's vital the series re-finds its Power.</p><p><strong>Tom Senior: Steamleft<br></strong>This week we found a tool that lets you calculate <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/heres-how-long-it-will-take-to-play-through-your-steam-backlog/">how much time it’ll take</a> to play through your entire Steam catalogue. Which makes my low of the week a simple one</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/eJIjTd2xTeG0.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/UMkJps4EGtNJ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steamleft"></p><p>No. No. No. No.</p> Play The Sims 4 free for 48 hours with Origin Game Timehttp://www.pcgamer.com/play-the-sims-4-free-for-48-hours-with-origin-game-time/Game Time enables time-limited "demo" periods of some of EA's most popular games.Fri, 23 Jan 2015 21:41:44 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/play-the-sims-4-free-for-48-hours-with-origin-game-time/Electronic Artsgame timeNewsOriginsimThe Sims 4 <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/p8vtdx-LRvaI.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EBsN8TrqpqiS.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Sims 4 pools"></p><p>Electronic Arts has added <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-sims-4-review/">The Sims 4</a> to its Game Time lineup on Origin, meaning that you can download and play the game as much as you want for 48 hours before deciding whether or not you want to drop any actual&nbsp;money it. </p><p>Game Time is kind of like <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/theme-hospital-is-origins-latest-on-the-house-freebie/">On the House</a>, but less permanent: Instead of keeping the game forever and ever, you get what is essentially a time-limited demo. The clock won't start ticking until you run the game for the first time, but once it begins it ticks away&nbsp;in real-time, so you'll probably want to leave it until you can get some solid sessions in. Any progress you make during your free time will be saved, so if you like what you see and decide to spring for it, you'll be able to pick up where you left off when the timer hits zero.</p><p>To get your Sims 4 freebie, point your browser at Origin's <a href="https://www.origin.com/en-ca/store/free-games/game-time">Game Time page</a> and click&mdash;you guessed it&mdash;the "Get It Now" button. You'll also notice while you're there that you can do the same with <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/battlefield-4-pc-review/">Battlefield 4</a>, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/titanfall-review-in-progress/">Titanfall</a>, and <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/kingdoms-of-amalur-the-reckoning-review/">Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning</a>.</p> PC Gamer Show: Smite World Championship behind the sceneshttp://www.pcgamer.com/pc-gamer-show-smite-world-championship-behind-the-scenes/We go behind the scenes of Smite's $2.3 million dollar MOBA tournament.Fri, 23 Jan 2015 20:43:44 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/pc-gamer-show-smite-world-championship-behind-the-scenes/MOBAPC Gamer ShowSMITE <iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/_PJK85tQdUo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>It's the PC Gamer Show! For this episode, Chris Thursten and Wes Fenlon&nbsp;traveled to the Smite World Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, an e-sports tournament with $2.3 million on the line. But we didn't just sit in the crowd&mdash;we went behind the scenes to see how Hi-Rez Studios puts on a gigantic tournament.</p><p>Join us for a look at how an e-sports tournament is put together, from full-body cosplay painting to A/V production to livecasting. We also talk to Hi-Rez Studios about how they prepared for the event and how Smite has grown over the past year.</p><p>Special guest star&nbsp;Brazilian Spiderman makes his PC Gamer Show debut in this episode.</p> Grey Goo reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/grey-goo-review/Grey Goo is a worthy throwback to the RTS golden age.Fri, 23 Jan 2015 20:23:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/grey-goo-review/Grey GooReviewsRTSStrategy <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">need to know</h5> <p> <strong>What is it?</strong> Sci-fi RTS featuring three asymmetrical factions <br> <strong>Influenced by:</strong> Command &amp; Conquer, StarCraft 2 <br> <strong>Price:</strong> $50 / £30 <br> <strong>Release date:</strong> Out now <br> <strong>Publisher:</strong> Grey Box <br> <strong>Developer:</strong> Petroglyph <br> <strong>Multiplayer:</strong> Up to 4 players <br> <strong>Copy protection:</strong> Steam <br> <strong>Link:</strong>&nbsp;<a href="https://www.greybox.com/greygoo/en/" target="_blank">Official site</a> </p> </div><p> Hiding behind crumbling walls, my men are dying. Like the coward I am, I’m holed up in my base building myself a superweapon. Construction bots are crawling over my doomsday tank, the Hand of Ruk, welding this and inspecting that. The handful of soldiers I can afford to train buy me time with their lives.</p><p> Just as a huge force shows up to end me, the Hand of Ruk groans and lifts off into a steady hover. Like a tranquilized bear it waddles in a circle, swivels its massive cannon toward the enemy, and fires. It evaporates two dozen enemies in one shot. It wipes out some friendlies in the blast radius, too, but I don’t have time to worry about that now. I’ve got a hovering death tank, and I’m going to blow up the whole goddamn world with this thing.</p><p> Grey Goo understands why old-school RTS games&nbsp;were so much fun, and it’s a great expression of that classic design. Instead of demanding your attention in squad-by-squad fights, Grey Goo is won or lost at the strategic level&mdash;the victor isn’t the player who can command individual squads the best, but the player with the best supply chains and manufacturing pipelines.</p><h2>Macromanagement</h2><p>Grey Goo is at its heart an reinvention of the twitchy, high clicks-per-minute RTS that made the original StarCraft an e-sport. From the moment the fog of war clears I’m ordering units, calling in construction bots from orbit, and sending skirmish parties out to capture new resource nodes. Single-player missions are one-on-one scenarios and multiplayer skirmishes can accommodate teams or free-for-all modes for up to four players. In both modes, most games lasted between 20 and 30 minutes&mdash;though I did have one exhausting slugfest drag on for an hour. Campaign missions vary from basic battles to timed wave-defense modes, and I found them all well voice-acted and different enough to be interesting.</p><p>The battles run on logistics. The strongest expression of this idea is a bold choice by developer Petroglyph: there’s only one resource, making Grey Goo an anomaly in the RTS genre. This energy source, Catalyst, is the basis for every purchase in the game, from building a new headquarters to upgrading a commando’s reload speed. By denying the enemy access to Catalyst, I deny them everything.</p><p> Managing this resource is as simple as balancing a checkbook. A running ticker tracks my income and expenses in one number: positive means I’m mining more than I’m using, negative means I’m spending more than I’m bringing in.</p><p> Unit production is similarly hands-off, with an option to auto-build any unit or series of units. A prudent commander will fine-tune production lines so that new units are constantly being built under budget, the Command &amp; Conquer version of living within your means. My army grows along with my war chest, and I place new factories with my surplus. &nbsp;</p><h2>Factional</h2> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">performance and settings</h5> <p> <strong>Reviewed on:</strong>&nbsp;Core i5, 8GB RAM, GeForce GTX 570 <br> <strong>Play it on:</strong> Core i5, 8GB RAM, GeForce GTX 570/AMD Radeon HD 7870 <br> <strong>Variable framerate:</strong> Yes <br> <strong>Remappable controls: </strong>Yes <br><br> Grey Goo includes basic graphics sliders and toggles (detail level, vsync, bloom, depth of field, etc.) and a maximized borderless window option. It ran smoothly on my rig at 1080p on the highest graphics settings. I got a solid 50 fps during heavy battles, even with epic units and the particle effects cranked way up. If your PC isn’t quite up to spec you can still enjoy it by lowering the settings to the minimum, but be warned: the tiny individual units really lose definition at lower settings. </p> </div><p> The central conflict of Gray Goo is between the Beta, a humanoid race of hardy warriors, and high-tech future humans. Weirdly, the Beta have the most human-looking design: industrial buildings, walking mecha tanks, and dudes with rifles and backpacks slogging through the mud. The humans, on the other hand, never get their boots dirty from behind the controls of their hovering vehicles.</p><p> The Humans and the Beta aren’t anything we haven’t seen in RTS games before, but they’re familiar in a good way: traditional RTS design that we already know is fun, revitalized in a modern game. The Beta use mobile base hubs to establish a series of standalone bases that each specialize in a different kind of unit. Roughly analogous to the British in Company of Heroes, these bases are both a way to move my production facilities closer to the front lines and another weakness for the enemy to attack and divide my attention.</p><p> Humans are much more centralized&mdash;in our Company of Heroes comparison, these guys are the Americans. One central reactor runs power lines to every building and technology hub, making one central megabase with long supply lines stretching to the front.</p><p> Though they are visually distinct, these two factions are extremely similar in terms of mechanics and unit trees. I don’t mind their strategic footholds being derivative of other games in the genre, but I would have liked to see more differences between these two armies. Especially in the early game, Human and Beta units are so similar that I had to consult the in-game encyclopedia to learn that their health, armor, and damage stats are actually different. Depending on your playstyle, either of these factions will be immediately recognizable and playable&mdash;a valuable mental toe hold for players to start trying to understand the third faction.</p><h2>World of goo</h2><p>The eponymous Goo are Grey Goo’s most interesting group and, unfortunately, the most tedious to play. Park a blob of nanobots, the “Mother Goo,” over a resource pool and they will self-replicate. The Mother Goo splits, mitosis-style, to form units or other Mother Goos that will set up on another resource pool and become its own production base.</p><p>Petroglyph did a great job making the Goo unlike anything else in RTS. They’ve got some of the same swarm-tactics flavor as StarCraft’s Zerg and Warhammer 40k’s Tyranids, but their supply line infrastructure is unique. Their art style, too, sits in a creepy uncanny valley between mechanical and biological. But the Goo are also uniquely frustrating. Unlike the Beta and the Humans, there is no way to automate their unit production process. Instead, I spent my entire time with the Goo clicking keyboard shortcuts and ordering units. This blast of unwelcome micromanagement goes against what was, I thought, the entire ethos of the game.</p><p>Grey Goo is strongest when it’s taking old RTS ideas and refining them, distilling them until the micromanagement is removed and pure, high-proof strategy is left behind. Though I wish that Petroglyph had taken more risks with the two humanoid factions, the inclusion of the Goo faction is a wildcard that might attract bizarre new strategies from expert players in competitive multiplayer. As a revival of a once-popular genre, Grey Goo excels.</p> Peter Molyneux warns Microsoft against "over-promising" with Windows Holographichttp://www.pcgamer.com/peter-molyneux-warns-microsoft-against-over-promising-with-windows-holographic/Peter Molyneux is concerned that consumers will be disappointed by the reality of Microsoft's augmented-reality operating system.Fri, 23 Jan 2015 20:22:54 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/peter-molyneux-warns-microsoft-against-over-promising-with-windows-holographic/MicrosoftNewsPeter MolyneuxWindows 10 <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tyG7OqV-TGas.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/289n1dbfJg1d.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Peter-Molyneux"></p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/peter-molyneux/?page=2">Peter Molyneux</a>, who told the world that something "truly amazing [and] absolutely unique" was waiting at the center of the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/peter-molyneuxs-new-game-curiosity-will-feature-a-50000-dlc-chisel/">Curiosity cube</a>, has some interesting, and&nbsp;seemingly irony-free,&nbsp;advice for Microsoft. In an interview with <a href="http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2015-01-22-molyneux-warns-microsoft-dont-overpromise-on-hololens">GamesIndustry International</a>, he warned against promising too much with Windows Holographic, which could leave consumers feeling "oversold" and underwhelmed when they actually get to try the thing.</p><p>"You kind of want to scream, 'Don't over promise these things'," Molyneux said. "The thing about the concept videos is they feel so seamless and it just looks like everything's working and actually, as we found with Kinect, it works all fine if you've got the perfect environment and the perfect distance away and you're the right shape human being. But it's very challenging if any of those things don't come together perfectly."</p><p>Wise words, no doubt. But the beauty of them is of course&nbsp;that Molyneux is a past master of promising too much. In 2010 he told <a href="http://ca.ign.com/articles/2010/04/07/fable-iii-has-the-greatest-cast-of-any-computer-game">IGN</a> that Fable 3 would have "the greatest cast that any computer game has ever had," and a year later he actually <a href="http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-03-16-molyneux-sorry-if-ive-over-promised">apologized for his hype-happy ways</a>, saying that he made up game features off the top of his head just to keep journalists from falling asleep while he talks. That didn't stop him from stating in 2012 that the secret inside the Curiosity cube would be "<a href="http://www.wired.com/2012/10/ff-peter-molyneux/4/">life-changingly amazing by any definition</a>," although it ultimately proved (by most definitions) to be <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/curiosity-winners-godhood-in-godus-comes-with-a-term-limit/">somewhat less than that</a>.</p><p>Despite that&nbsp;history, his point is perfectly valid: If Microsoft sets unreasonable expectations, and then fails to meet them, consumers will be disappointed. That's bad news for any company trying to push widespread adoption of a new, unfamiliar technology.</p><p>"It's almost as if they kind of oversold it to me, you know the motorbike and going around - and the motorbike just looked perfect. It made me feel as a consumer like, 'Oh my God, it's going to be incredible'," Molyneux said. "My fear is that when you actually put the device on you're not as blown away as you should be." </p> The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt gets new teaser ahead of hands-on previewshttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-gets-new-teaser-ahead-of-hands-on-previews/The first real look at CD Projekt's RPG epic will arrive next week.Fri, 23 Jan 2015 19:20:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-gets-new-teaser-ahead-of-hands-on-previews/CD ProjektNewsRPGThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wqat43KUAxY?vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p>A&nbsp;batch of <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt/">Witcher 3: Wild Hunt</a> hands-on&nbsp;previews, including our own,&nbsp;are inbound soon, but in the meantime the folks at CD Projekt have a new teaser to tide you over, which includes a smattering of gameplay footage.&nbsp;Not a sizeable smattering, admittedly, but it sure is pretty&mdash;at least as much as an up-close shot of a tongue-waggling undead (is that a Noonwraith?) can be considered an aesthetically-pleasing experience.&nbsp;</p><p>The big question at this point, as CD Projekt's Jose Teixeira admits in the video, is whether the delays&mdash;the game was originally supposed to be out for the 2014 holiday season&mdash;have&nbsp;afforded the developers enough time to fully <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-is-finished-delay-is-solely-for-bug-stomping/">realize their vision</a>. Unlike the first two games, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be fully open-world, and <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-revealed-an-open-world-rpg-bigger-than-skyrim/">30 times larger</a> than its predecessor, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-2/">The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings</a>, which was no slouch in the size department itself. </p><p>"The time we took will be given back in quality," Teixeira says in the video. We'll find out soon enough.&nbsp;The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which CD Projekt says really and for true will be the end of Geralt's saga, will be out in May.</p> What to expect from the next generation of RAMhttp://www.pcgamer.com/what-to-expect-from-the-next-generation-of-ram/DDR4 will be the next standard, but what comes after that? A dive into Wide I/O, Hybrid Cube Memory, and high bandwidth.Fri, 23 Jan 2015 18:55:25 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/what-to-expect-from-the-next-generation-of-ram/HardwareNewsRAMTech <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qCzYDIRNSRy4.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uBE2pzuQ5IvA.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Ddr Ram"></p><p>DDR4 memory has been available for some time now, but with support limited to the X99 architecture, it thus far hasn't overtaken DDR3 as the go-to memory to use. And it's still far more expensive than DDR3.&nbsp;But as newer Intel chipsets support DDDR4 and it&nbsp;becomes more ubiquitous in the coming year, it's a good time to look ahead to the memory types we might be using <em>after</em> DDR4, and Extremetech has a <a href="http://www.extremetech.com/computing/197720-beyond-ddr4-understand-the-differences-between-wide-io-hbm-and-hybrid-memory-cube">great primer</a> on three new and upcoming memory technologies: Wide I/O, High Memory Bandwidth (HMB) and Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC). </p><p><strong>Wide I/O</strong> (and Wide I/O 2) is a high-bandwidth, low-power system designed (and most useful) for mobile SoCs. The standard has been backed by Samsung and other smartphone manufacturers as high-res handheld displays require lots of bandwidth but using as little power as possible is critical to battery life. Wide I/O is the first version of the standard, but it's likely that Wide I/O 2 or 3 is the version that actually makes it to market. No major devices are expected to ship with Wide I/O in the first half of 2015, but late 2015 may see the standard gain some limited ground.</p><p>According to Crucial, DDDR4 bandwidth maxes out at about 25.6&nbsp;GB/s. Wide I/O, on the other hand, has a bandwidth of 12.8 GB/s, at least&nbsp;<a href="http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/memory/display/20110222201121_Samsung_Develops_Mobile_Memory_with_Wide_I_O_Interface_Extreme_Bandwidth.html">according to an old Xbitlabs post</a>. Wide I/O 2 or 3 may offer significantly more bandwidth, and keep in mind that this is a technology designed for power efficiency first and foremost. It could eventually be a big deal for gaming laptops and other portable hardware.</p><p>Next we have <strong>Hybrid Memory Cube</strong> (HMC), a joint standard from Intel and Micron that offers significantly more bandwidth than Wide I/O 2 but at the cost of higher power consumption and price. HMC is a forward-looking architecture designed for multi-core systems, and is expected to deliver bandwidths of up to 400GB/s, according to Intel and Micron. Production could begin next year, with HMC commercially available in 2017.</p><p>Finally, <strong>High Bandwidth Memory</strong> is a specialized application of Wide I/O 2, but explicitly designed for graphics. (Both AMD and Nvidia plan to adopt it for their next-generation GPUs.) HMB can stack up to eight 128-bit wide channels for a 1024-bit interface, allowing for total bandwidth in the 128-256GB/s range. In other words, it's not as cheap or power efficient as Wide I/O, but it should be cheaper than HMC.</p><p>Also, since it's designed explicitly for high-performance graphics situations, future GPUs built with HBM might reach 512GB/s to 1TB/s of main memory bandwidth. That's a not insignificant upgrade over the current top-end 336GB/s Titan Black.</p><p>If you enjoy digging into the nitty gritty of future memory formats (and who doesn't really?), check out&nbsp;<a href="http://www.extremetech.com/computing/197720-beyond-ddr4-understand-the-differences-between-wide-io-hbm-and-hybrid-memory-cube">Extremetech's full article</a> for a deeper dive.</p> Dying Light's "Be the Zombie" multiplayer mode goes free for everyonehttp://www.pcgamer.com/dying-lights-be-the-zombie-multiplayer-mode-goes-free-for-everyone/Techland has confirmed the launch date of the physical edition of Dying Light in regions outside of North America.Fri, 23 Jan 2015 18:45:32 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/dying-lights-be-the-zombie-multiplayer-mode-goes-free-for-everyone/ActionDying LightNewsTechland <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6uzgyxyUTaao.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BQ9B-8HaOasp.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Dying Light"></p><p>The whole <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/dying-light/?page=2">Dying Light</a> launch process has been a little bit weird. First, the release date was actually <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/dying-light-launch-date-is-suddenly-a-little-closer/">moved up</a>, but then last week it became apparent that physical copies of the game&mdash;which some folk still prefer to buy&mdash;are being <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/dying-light-physical-copies-have-been-delayed-in-some-regions/">delayed</a> in regions outside of North America. But the inconvenience has an upside, as the previously preorder-exclusive Be the Zombie mode is now going to be made free for everyone.</p><p>Techland announced today that physical copies of Dying Light will go out in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia on February 27. "Although the changes affect only the release of boxed copies in certain territories, we want to show all of you our appreciation for your continued support," the studio said in a statement. "Thus, we’re really happy to announce that 'Be the Zombie' will be available for free to everyone, on all platforms, in all territories."</p><p>Additionally, preorders of the physical edition of the game will include the Cuisine &amp; Cargo and Ultimate Survivor Bundle DLC packs at no charge. Preorders can also be registered at <a href="https://dockets.dyinglightgame.com/">dockets.dyinglightgame.com</a> for "dockets" that can be exchanged for in-game weapons.</p><p>For those who prefer to do without the added mess of discs and boxes, the worldwide digital release date of Dying Light is still January 27.</p> Final Fantasy XIII-2 reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/final-fantasy-xiii-2-review-2/Can this strangesequel-to-a-sequel fix the problems of Final Fantasy XIII?Fri, 23 Jan 2015 16:29:17 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/final-fantasy-xiii-2-review-2/Final Fantasy XIII-2ReviewsRPG <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">NEED TO KNOW</h5> <p> <strong>What is it:</strong>&nbsp;Port of a 2012 console game and direct sequel to the recently-released port of Final Fantasy XIII-2.<br> <strong>Influenced by:</strong>&nbsp;Mass Effect 2, unhappy fans<br> <strong>Reviewed on:</strong>&nbsp;Intel I5 4460@3.20GHz, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 780<br> <strong>Alternatively:&nbsp;</strong>Final Fantasy VII, 93%<br> <strong>DRM:&nbsp;</strong>Steam<br> <strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;$19.99/£12.99<br> <strong>Release:&nbsp;</strong>Out now<br> <strong>Developer:&nbsp;</strong>Square Enix<br> <strong>Publisher:</strong> In house </p> </div> <p> The Final Fantasy XIII trilogy is a bizarre series of games, with each sequel clearly fashioned around the reactions of its fanbase. Final Fantasy XIII, which I reviewed last year, was a cloyingly linear affair with a brilliant combat system&mdash;by contrast, direct sequel Final Fantasy XIII-2, released on consoles in early 2012, is so freeform in structure that it’s sometimes hard to keep up with what you’re supposed to be doing. While it’s a better game for the most part, it comes with a whole host of new problems, and is almost as bad a port as its predecessor. </p> <p> Set a few years after Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning, the moody hero of that game, has vanished into the realm of Valhalla, which in this game is famed for its spiky-haired rulers and prolonged QTE sequences. It’s up to her sister, the impractically-dressed FFXIII supporting character Serah and a displaced Valhalla native called Noel Kreiss (a straight-to-DVD Squall with the dumbest name ever) to look for her. Instead of XIII’s near-endless shiny corridors, an initially confusing time travel concept guides XIII-2’s structure. </p> <p> Opening a ‘time’ gate (sigh) in the first region of the game opens up the Historia Crux, a menu screen which lets you select which environment you’d like to go next and tells you what year it’ll be when you get there, sort of like a halfway point between a timeline and a fast travel screen. Environments tend to appear more than once in different timeframes, separated by up to hundreds of years, and story beats frequently rely on you going backwards and forwards between familiar places to mess with cause and effect. </p> <blockquote> It comes with a whole host of new problems, and is almost as bad a port as its predecessor. </blockquote> <p> It’s a refreshing but convoluted structure. Usually your progress is slowed down by needing to obtain an item or two from another part of the timeline, and it’s hard to catalogue exactly what’s going on in your quest line&mdash;it wouldn’t hurt to have a button that prompts a ‘go here next, genius’ message. When you’re progressing at a decent pace, poking through new time periods, fighting giant bosses, exploring big environments and quickly figuring out where to go next, XIII-2 is classic Final Fantasy and deserves to be lauded as such. But then there are big stretches with unskippable battles and dreadful ‘90s-era switch puzzles that expose a developer that’s blatantly out of its depth. XIII-2 is one of the weirdest Final Fantasy sequels&mdash;it feels like a team trying to give their audience what they think they want and only half getting it right. </p><p>I would say you need a pre-existing history with Final Fantasy XIII before you even consider buying XIII-2, whether you liked it or hated it. The story is truly awful, far worse than XIII’s, with interminable cutscenes and two lame protagonists that never feel like leads in the way that Lightning did in XIII, or indeed Cloud and Squall did in the earlier titles. Noel is a walking and talking spiky-haired nothing in big pants, while Serah is so boringly polite that she almost makes a case for why every Final Fantasy hero needs to be a miserable and broken human being (yay RPGs!). While I never enjoyed the story of XIII-2, which piles on new characters without any effort to create emotional investment in them, the tone of the world is really laid back and pleasant, particularly in the first half of the story. Towns, explorable environments and interactive NPCs all return to the series, having been nixed by XIII, and they’re all welcome staples.</p><p>There are some obvious improvements to the pacing, too. Unlike XIII, which holds your hand through the first ten hours as it tediously explains how the battle system and progression work, XIII-2 gives you the ability to start levelling up each of your character’s job roles right away. The combat, which automates your party’s attacks as you tactically change their job roles in battle on the fly, is functionally identical to XIII’s. Instead of a third party member to battle alongside Serah and Noel, players deploy monsters into their party as allies that have their own classes and attacks. You can even team up with the series’ signature giant bird, the Chocobo, as it mauls creatures in the face with its mighty beak. It’s no deeper than a bit of menu management, but it offers lots of flexibility in battle strategies.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rI-YPQ_ET_Gj.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gJGMPHemRJUF.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Ff13 1"></p><p>It’s a shame that with this excellent combat system comes some really bad examples of quest design. Chasing after sheep to collect wool marks a low point, and one asshole near the start of the game asks Serah and Noel to transcend time and space to fetch his niece a flower that only grows in the winter&mdash;I had to complete the former, but the latter is such an obviously tedious bit of filler that I didn’t bother. A weak story means that most of the quests lack a bit of energy.</p><p>Further problems stem from rough stabs at variety that do not pay off. Intrusive boss fight QTEs, which were on their way out of mainstream games when XIII-2 originally released on consoles in 2012, are now so oddly dated that they’ve become gaming’s Ugg boots or Timberlake trilbies. One poorly-judged and irritating platforming sequence near the story’s denouement feels like it belongs to a different game entirely, while the newly added dialogue options are an entirely pointless concession to the success of contemporary Western RPGs that only highlight the bad dialogue.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/IRp_X79_TWiS.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/T3XamPJFhiiR.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Ff13 3"></p><p>There are further caveats with this port, too. Unlike XIII’s original 720p-locked release, XIII-2 does have a bare minimum range of visual options: resolution settings, anti-aliasing and shadow resolutions. The obvious unaddressed problem is framerate. It’s a little cheeky that the Steam page boasts about 60fps when achieving that is so infrequent on even a moderate rig. I’d say XIII-2 is playable on my GTX 780-equipped home PC, but annoyingly slow on my mid-ranged PC at work, regularly dropping down to around 20fps at 1050p with mid-level anti-aliasing and shadow settings. <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/final-fantasy-xiii-and-xiii-2-port-analysis-durantes-verdict/">Durante’s assessment</a> covers the issues with this port in-depth, but for those seeking out the definitive version of XIII-2, this really doesn’t feel like it.</p><p>XIII-2 is a complicated and inconsistent sequel, then, and one I can only recommend to a subsection of the series’ audience. It is better than XIII. This fixes a lot of its predecessor’s structural problems, focusing on the airtight combat and sensibly dialling up the exploration, but tries its hand at a bunch of new ideas that entirely fail. This feels like a game crafted around a survey of unhappy fans and, as such, is one of the oddest Final Fantasy entries to date.</p> CS:GO player 'Flex' banned during ESEA league livestreamhttp://www.pcgamer.com/csgo-player-flex-banned-during-esea-league-livestream/ESP's Flex gets hit with the banhammer.Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:14:13 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/csgo-player-flex-banned-during-esea-league-livestream/Counter-Strike: Global OffensiveE-sportsFPSNewsValve <p>Welcome to&nbsp;schadenfreude&nbsp;corner. Today we submit for your approval the story of a CS:GO league player banned mid-match during an ESEA livestream.</p><p>YouTube user Megaberna captured the moment that&nbsp;ESP's Flex was booted from today's&nbsp;<a href="http://play.esea.net/index.php?s=stats&amp;d=match&amp;id=4036837" target="_blank">Main league game</a> against Grandpa Berets.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Cq5Z53q_Se8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>According to ESP's leader&nbsp;'espgodson', the team had no idea Flex was running hacks. In fact, Flex was only playing as a stand-in, as the ESEA require that two members of the previous roster are present for the first few matches of a season.</p><p>"Everything was very rushed and we only needed him to play 2 matches," 'espgodson' writes&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/GlobalOffensive/comments/2tdahc/flex_of_team_esp_eseamain_gets_banned_mid_match/cny6ijh" target="_blank">in a Reddit thread</a>. "Anyways, just wanted to come on here to say that none of us had any idea he was cheating and absolutely no one on our team would ever intentionally do something like that."</p><p>Another comment in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/GlobalOffensive/comments/2tdahc/flex_of_team_esp_eseamain_gets_banned_mid_match/cny3iv5" target="_blank">that same thread</a> claims that, after the ban, Flex admitted to having used cheats on ESEA servers for the past week, and that he did it to stop himself from playing the game.</p><p>This is far from top-tier pro-drama; Main being the third division of the ESEA league&mdash;under&nbsp;Premier&nbsp;and Invite. Nevertheless, it's entertaining to see a competitive player get publicly shamed for cheating during a livestreamed match.</p><p>For more on cheating in Global Offensive, check out&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hacks-an-investigation-into-aimbot-dealers-wallhack-users-and-the-million-dollar-business-of-video-game-cheating/" target="_blank">Emanuel's detailed investigation</a> into what is a million-dollar business.</p> Starr Mazer is part shmup, part point 'n click adventurehttp://www.pcgamer.com/starr-mazer-is-part-shmup-part-point-n-click-adventure/Genre blending Shmup-'n'-Click wants $160,000 on KickstarterFri, 23 Jan 2015 12:52:53 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/starr-mazer-is-part-shmup-part-point-n-click-adventure/AdventureKickstarterNewsStarr Mazer <p> We were fools that thought we were gods&mdash;toying with the natural order to create bizarre abominations. It started simply enough: a few drops of RPG spliced into an FPS. Pretty soon, we were out of control. We had grand strategy text adventures, roguelike platformers and MMORTSARPGMOBAs. The genres were crumbling.&nbsp;Eventually, inevitably,&nbsp;it would all lead to... <em>THIS</em>... </p><p>Here's a screenshot of Starr Mazer:</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/00ihS51vQ1OJ.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/y-2cmGbNsbHU.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Mazer PnC"></p><p>Here's another screenshot of Starr Mazer:</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Yy9U_oF3RPaX.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xUddQvsIhjXc.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Starr Mazer SEU"></p><p>It's part shmup, part point-'n'-click adventure. It's also got some RPG elements. And procedural generation.</p><p>As interesting as it all sounds, I think the key will be integrating such disparate parts into something cohesive.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/imagosfilms/starr-mazer" target="_blank">Starr Mazer's Kickstarter description</a> suggests that it wants to do just that.</p><p> <em>"You’ll walk into the Holloway-Exeter docking bay, board the Starr Wolf and control the flight sequence, blasting off to space. You’ll be bargaining deals at the bar in order to afford repairs and upgrades to your Starr Wolf and using information gleaned from characters to find hidden routes while flying between destinations. Be careful which passing enemies you attack, as not all are foes, and a few could have dire consequences. Even while facing the charging death beam of a G'ell cannon, use your charisma to dodge bullets."</em></p><p>That seemingly gets to the heart of what could make this genre mash-up unique. Shmups, historically, are reactive. You're constantly called on to make split-second decisions based on what's happening on screen. Rarely are you asked to react, or even pre-empt, events related to a story that runs parallel to that action.</p><iframe src="//player.vimeo.com/video/35259959?color=ffffff&amp;title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="610" height="458" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Starr Mazzer also promises a randomised episode system, that will change the order in which the story plays out. Based on this, dynamic shmup sequences will react to the state of the world at any specific time.</p><p>It all sounds very clever, and looks beautiful. All that remains is for Starr Mazer to match its funding goal. The Kickstarter is for $160,000. So far, the campaign has raised $32,000 with 29 days to go.</p> Grow Home is Ubisoft's minimalist exploration gamehttp://www.pcgamer.com/grow-home-is-ubisofts-minimalist-exploration-game/Experimental climb-'em-upis out next month.Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:07:23 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/grow-home-is-ubisofts-minimalist-exploration-game/Grow HomeNewsPlatformerUbisoft <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Sn4pEFNdQQmI.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/sAnlWG7qm3vz.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Grow Home"></p><p>Everybody's&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/SamuelWRoberts/status/558562049949978624" target="_blank">already done</a> the Grow Home/Gone Home joke, so let's move straight to the news...</p><p>Grow Home is Ubisoft's latest experimental side-project, created by Driver: San Francisco developer Reflections. As plots go, it probably couldn't be more different to&nbsp;a comatose man systematically possessing drivers throughout a&nbsp;city. Instead, it's about BUD: a robot guy on a mission to find a plant species capable of oxygenating his home world.</p><p>Cut to abstractly picturesque environments:</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/pfYuUuVRu5Y?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>It's an exploration game, natch, but one that focuses specifically on climbing. The world is filled with micro-islands,&nbsp;hidden caves and tall pillars, and players are able to control BUD's hands independently of one another&mdash;allowing&nbsp;them to scale the 'Star Plant' as it grows.</p><p>Grow Home will release on PC on 4 February.</p> Recreating real spacecraft in Kerbal Space Programhttp://www.pcgamer.com/kerbal-space-program-2/How to build replicas of some of history's greatest spacecraft in KSP.Fri, 23 Jan 2015 10:31:52 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/kerbal-space-program-2/Kerbal Space Program Minecraft's Ender Dragon is getting an overhaul http://www.pcgamer.com/minecrafts-ender-dragon-is-getting-an-overhaul/Plus more changes promised in a substantial update, coming soon.Fri, 23 Jan 2015 03:05:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/minecrafts-ender-dragon-is-getting-an-overhaul/MinecraftNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/f4Fq61ERRkKN.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/CJhMgHd0NMWW.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Enderdragon!"></p><p>If for some reason you play&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/minecraft/">Minecraft</a> to slay dragons, then you'll be interested to know that&nbsp;slaying the Ender Dragon is about to change. According to a Tweet by&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/Dinnerbone?original_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fventurebeat.com%2F2015%2F01%2F22%2Fminecrafts-ender-dragon-boss-gets-a-makeover-for-update-1-9%2F&amp;related=null&amp;tw_i=558257086690492416&amp;tw_p=tweetembed">Mojang developer Nathan Adams</a>, the forthcoming 1.9 update will turn the current Ender Dragon into one more closely resembling the console versions. That's not as bad as it sounds, as the console Ender Dragon actually boasts more moves than the PC version.</p><p>Adams also assured current players that they'll be able to spawn the new Ender Dragon without starting a new game.&nbsp;</p><p>Bringing the PC Ender Dragon up to speed with his console brethren is not the only change coming to the endgame beast, though Adams refused to specify any other details. He also hinted that patch 1.9 will introduce other, much more significant changes.&nbsp;“Don’t worry,” he wrote. “This isn’t all I’m doing for 1.9. Not by far, but I’ll save the best for later.”</p> Watch John Romero play the first episode of Doomhttp://www.pcgamer.com/watch-john-romero-play-the-first-episode-of-doom/With commentary and a surprising amount of deaths.Fri, 23 Jan 2015 00:19:27 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/watch-john-romero-play-the-first-episode-of-doom/DoomDouble FineFPSid SoftwareJohn RomeroNews <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ygp4-kmjpzI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Rest assured that when John Romero plays&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/doom/">Doom</a> in Ultra-Violence mode, he dies a lot too. Granted, it's been 22 years since the game released, but it's still comforting to know that the man responsible for designing most of Doom's levels isn't immune from the odd embarrassing death.&nbsp;</p><p>The video above is the first in a lengthy series of videos featuring John Romero playing Doom, accompanied by Double-Fine's&nbsp;JP LeBreton. The duo touch on&nbsp;most aspects of the game, and there are some fascinating insights into the design decisions at play. If you've spent the last twenty years soaking up all there is to know about Doom there are still a few surprises within. Even if you don't learn anything <em>per se</em>, it's still a lot of fun.</p><p>It's the latest in Double-Fine's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.doublefine.com/news/comments/announcing_devs_play_a_new_series_from_2_player_productions/">Devs Play series</a>, which has featured Earthbound and The Lion King, among others.&nbsp;</p><p>We looked at some&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/why-i-love-doom-wads/">impressive Doom WADs</a> last week, or, if you'd like to stick closer to the source material, Romero released a bunch of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/john-romero-shows-unseen-doom-art-on-21st-anniversary/">previously-never-seen Doom art</a> late last year.</p> The worst launches in PC gaming historyhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-worst-pc-game-launches/We take a look at the history of troubled PC game releases.Thu, 22 Jan 2015 21:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-worst-pc-game-launches/ New Galactic Civilizations 3 beta introduces the "Battle Viewer"http://www.pcgamer.com/new-galactic-civilizations-3-beta-introduces-the-battle-viewer/The fourth beta version of Galactic Civilizations 3 was released today.Thu, 22 Jan 2015 20:56:48 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/new-galactic-civilizations-3-beta-introduces-the-battle-viewer/4XGalactic Civilizations 3NewsStardockStrategy <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/qxdLiFeSEEg?vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> "Not only must justice be done," as the saying goes, "it must also be seen to be done." And it's the same with great battles in space: It's all well and good to have your Minister of War tell you that your interstellar conquest is proceeding apace, but sometimes the only way to properly scratch that Space Tyrant itch is to check in on things personally, and then watch them blow up.</p><p> That's where <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/galactic-civilizations-3/">Galactic Civilization 3's</a> new Battle Viewer comes into play: With it, you may now "see your fleets shoot lasers, launch missiles and blow each other up in glorious detail," from various camera angles, pausing, rewinding, and slowing or speeding the action in whatever way most tickles your fancy. A built-in battle log provides a blow-by-blow breakdown of what's happening on the screen, and developer Stardock says it plans to add even more explosions, weapons and defense effects, and sound effects in the future.</p><p> The new ideology system, meanwhile, replaces the old system of pyramids and adds a large number of new boosts and unlocks to Benevolent, Malevolent, and Pragmatic leaders, while "extreme planets" promise big advantages to players with the technology to colonize them. The new beta also enables Gigantic and Immense map sizes, and implements the usual array of <a href="http://forums.galciv3.com/460628">fixes and balance tweaks</a>.</p><p> Galactic Civilizations 3 is currently available as an Early Access release on <a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/226860/">Steam</a>, and is expected to be ready for a full and proper launch sometime this spring. </p> Mojang says it has not been hackedhttp://www.pcgamer.com/mojang-says-it-has-not-been-hacked/Mojang recently reset the passwords to more than 1800 compromised Minecraft accounts.Thu, 22 Jan 2015 19:44:45 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/mojang-says-it-has-not-been-hacked/MinecraftMojangNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cMrjIJnrTc2M.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Ev4dtIqehXu3.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Minecraft"></p><p>More than 1800 <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/minecraft/">Minecraft</a> user names and passwords were published online earlier this week, according to German publication <a href="https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&amp;sl=de&amp;tl=en&amp;u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.heise.de%2Fnewsticker%2Fmeldung%2F1800-Minecraft-Accounts-kompromittiert-2520192.html">Hesse</a>, which in reality is almost entirely non-noteworthy as security breaches go; this is, after all, a game that recently broke the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/minecraft-boasts-nearly-one-million-concurrent-users-is-likely-the-most-popular-game-on-pc/">one million concurrent user mark</a>. Even so, Mojang wants everyone to know that this is not a tip-of-the-iceberg situation&mdash;It hasn't actually been hacked&mdash;and also to remind its many players to be careful about how they handle their passwords.</p><p>Mojang's Owen Hill explained in a recent <a href="https://mojang.com/2015/01/lets-talk-about-password-security/">blog post</a> that the accounts were compromised not by hackers, but as the result of phishing scams by unnamed "bad people." All compromised passwords have been reset, and Mojang has sent out emails to everyone affected&mdash;and if you didn't receive such an email, then there's nothing to worry about. </p><p>"No-one has gained access to the Mojang mainframe," Hill wrote. "Even if they did, we store your passwords in a super encrypted format. Honestly, you don’t need to panic."</p><p>Hill also urged players to never provide their login information to non-Mojang sites, and to use different passwords on different sites to minimize the potential damage of actual security breaches. And if, after all that, you're still a little nervous about the whole thing and want to change your password anyway&mdash;"You sound like a sensible one," Hill wrote&mdash;you may do so <a href="https://minecraft.net/resetpassword">here</a>.</p> Telltale teases second Game of Thrones episodehttp://www.pcgamer.com/telltale-teases-second-game-of-thrones-episode/The second part of Telltale's episodic Game of Thrones adventure will arrive in early February.Thu, 22 Jan 2015 18:25:23 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/telltale-teases-second-game-of-thrones-episode/AdventureGame of ThronesNewsTelltale Games <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/boY5jktW2Zk?vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> The first look at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/game-of-thrones/" style="font-size: 14px;">Game of Thrones: The Lost Lords</a>,&nbsp;the second part of Telltale's&nbsp;adventure adaptation,&nbsp;is here, and it doesn't look like life is going to get much easier for the Forresters anytime soon.</p><p> I don't want to spoil anything for those of you who haven't yet played part one, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/game-of-thrones-episode-one-iron-from-ice-review/">Iron From Ice</a>, so I will say only that it opened with the forces of House Forrester getting ready for a big party with the Starks at the Red Wedding. Things unfolded from there pretty much as you'd expect, concluding in a fashion that I honestly did not see coming&mdash;although, given the subject material, probably should have.</p><p> In any event, Iron From Ice was a really strong start to the Game of Thrones adventure, and I very much hope that The Lost Lords will raise the bar even higher. Look for it to hit Steam on February 3.</p> Hearthstone: The 20 best legendary cardshttp://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-the-20-best-legendary-cards/With the help of pro players, Paulo Vitor breaks down the most powerful cards in the game.Thu, 22 Jan 2015 17:38:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-the-20-best-legendary-cards/BlizzardCard GameHearthstone Ronin is a turn-based action platformer with a familiar lookhttp://www.pcgamer.com/ronin-is-a-turn-based-action-platformer-with-a-familiar-look/Remember Gunpoint? This isn't Gunpoint, but it does look a lot like it.Thu, 22 Jan 2015 17:37:58 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/ronin-is-a-turn-based-action-platformer-with-a-familiar-look/Devolver DigitalNewsPlatformer <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oTFfv3VBR--6.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BwfoTNm_OBn8.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Ronin" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p>Ronin looks, it has to be said, quite a lot like Gunpoint.* And perhaps a little bit like Mark of the Ninja. It is, however, neither of those things. In fact,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pentadact.com/2014-08-12-its-time-i-did-something-about-this-gunpoint-ripoff/" target="_blank">here's Gunpoint's creator</a>, Tom Francis**, saying just that.</p><p>Yes, Ronin may be about stealth, breaking into 2D buildings and defenestration, but it's also about murdering people with a&nbsp;turn-based combat system.&nbsp;Here's the trailer, which shows how that works:</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/zLmbeogBfqU?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>The action pauses when you enter combat. You're given&nbsp;a&nbsp;choice of actions and movements, and will enact them simultaneously with the guards you are fighting. If a guard's laser sights are pointed at you, you'll need to change elevation to avoid being shot during&nbsp;the next turn. You're both&nbsp;faster and deadlier than the guards, but you can only kill at melee range, and they've all got guns.</p><p>Also you've a grappling hook.</p><p>You can play the early demo build of Ronin right now,&nbsp;<a href="http://teedoubleu.itch.io/ronin" target="_blank">for free</a>. As you can see from the trailer, it's come on a long way since that was made. Developed by&nbsp;Tomasz Wacławek, it's been picked up by publisher Devolver Digital&nbsp;for a full release later this year.</p><p><em>*Disclaimer: Gunpoint was made by Tom Francis, who I was in a fictional relationship with during a New Year's Eve game of Werewolf. He was a werewolf, I was a human, but despite our differences, we managed to surreptitiously slaughter an entire town full of our&nbsp;friends&mdash;thus winning the game.</em></p><p><em>**Disclaimer: Tom Francis is Tom Francis, who... well, see above. Oh, he used to work at PC Gamer too.</em></p> Three Lane Highway: the victory switch, and other storieshttp://www.pcgamer.com/three-lane-highway-the-victory-switch-and-other-stories/Lessons from Dota 2 and Smite about turning an advantage into a win.Thu, 22 Jan 2015 17:30:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/three-lane-highway-the-victory-switch-and-other-stories/Dota 2Hi-Rez StudiosMOBASMITEThree Lane HighwayValve <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/u2dz-VwKReC9.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/e7bXyq32TEWb.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Ares"></p><p><em><a href="www.pcgamer.com/three-lane-highway/">Three Lane Highway</a> is Chris' weekly column about Dota 2. And Smite. It's about Smite now too, apparently. The amazing fan art above is by Reddit user <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/Smite/comments/1dodo2/i_have_you_now_ares_fan_art/">Pitran</a>.</em></p><p>I've played Dota 2 almost exclusively since July 2012. For a long time it was the only game of its type that I played, and I've spent an order of magnitude more time with it than any other game of, well, any other type. I wouldn't be surprised if the time I've spent <em>learning to wizard</em> exceeds the time I've invested in games generally over the last two years. I held, for a long time, that you couldn't play more than one of these games seriously. I still believe that. Over the last few weeks, however, I've made a concerted effort to learn another&mdash;Smite. It's taught me a few things about the genre as a whole, and made me question a few further&nbsp;things that I held to be true about Dota 2.</p><p>Here's one new idea: surrender mechanics directly benefit support players. Back in July of last year, I <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/three-lane-highway-surrender-buttons-gordian-knots-and-other-thoughts-on-giving-up/">wrote this article</a> about why Dota 2 doesn't, shouldn't give its players a surrender button. I haven't entirely changed my mind about that.&nbsp;I still believe that the 'white flag' option makes these games less interesting overall. The Dota 2 experiences you remember are the late-game upsets, the incredible comebacks. Surrendering truncates the game, closes off possibilities, places hard limits on all of that fascinating complexity. In the abstract, I maintain that if a player is in a position where they <em>must </em>surrender then something has gone wrong with the game's provision of comeback mechanics. What I now realise, however, is that the decision to surrender is, in and of itself, a phenomena worth examining. The <em>possibility </em>of surrender creates new dynamics that alter the way you perceive the story of a match.</p><p>Dota 2's lack of a surrender option means that regular matchmaking games always end when one team destroys the other team's base. They can end no other way. It takes carries with good items and smart play by core heroes to do this, and the run of patches following last year's International have attempted to do away with ten-minute death pushes by giving defenders more options. Not only do games run longer, but the most important characters,&nbsp;in the end,&nbsp;are almost always the ones at the top of the farm priority pyramid. Earthshaker might start the ball rolling, but&nbsp;Faceless Void gets to kick it into the goal.</p><p>The same is true of Smite, to an extent. The role of the support, in both games, is to control the first half of the match&nbsp;so that it is your carries, not the other guy's, who ultimately succeed. This is where the 'Soccer Mom Crystal Maiden' meme comes from, and why support players are&nbsp;generally so rare&mdash;the role requires you to give up a substantial portion of your claim to glory. I've been playing support exclusively since I started to learn Smite because almost nobody volunteers to do it. As in Dota, everybody wants to play a solo roaming hero or carry. They want to make the big, game-ending plays&mdash;not the subtle supportive ones.</p><p>Teams can surrender in Smite, however, and this alters the prospects of what a support player can achieve. The goal stops being 'how do I ensure we have the best possible lategame' and becomes, in part, 'how do I break their spirits to the extent that there is no lategame'.</p><p>I'll give you an example. I've been playing a lot of Ares, a durable support who lacks burst damage but whose ultimate ability can completely turn a teamfight. The spell is called No Escape. Chains fly from Ares towards enemy players in a radius as he leaps into the air. After a few seconds he crashes down, dragging every player chained towards a central point and stunning them. Dota fans: imagine the lovechild of Magnus' Reverse Polarity and Disruptor's Glimpse. New Smite players tend not to buy the crowd control-breaking items that would get them out of dodge, so in these low-level brackets No Escape can act as a game-ending psychological weapon.</p><p>Case in point: my last game. The scoreboard is relatively even twelve minutes in. Both teams are almost entirely comprised of junglers and high-damage solo mages. As support Ares, I'm the exception. One of our guys disconnected at the beginning of the game and didn't come back for a few minutes, ceding an early gold and experience lead to the other team that we're only just clawing back. They've grouped up to push down middle lane. I tap two key combinations into the Tribes-style audio command system.</p><p><em>[VD2] Defend middle lane!</em></p><p><em>[VVVR] Ultimate is ready!</em></p><p>I approach the clustered enemy team from behind, from the jungle. The third-person perspective makes shooter-style sneak attacks a possibility. My blink is on cooldown, but I'm among the enemy team before they have time to do much about it. No Escape connects with all five. During the leap I draw them forwards, closer to our tower. They're dragged into a Chronos nuke; into&nbsp;that impassable ring thing that Odin does; into Loki, who presses a bunch of buttons I guess. (I'm still learning the gods.) Full teamwipe, a five-to-zero victory.&nbsp;They surrender immediately afterwards.</p><p>I wasn't the character who picked up the multi-kill, but I, the support, was the character who ended the game. I'd dealt the killing blow to <em>morale</em> in a way that I couldn't aspire to do to the enemy's base.</p><p>While I still don't think that a surrender mechanic is ultimately right for Dota, its presence in Smite has demonstrated the role it can play in redistributing power among the team. It allows for demonstrable displays of authority among 'subordinate' player roles, and creates scenarios where victory emerges from something other than a mounting&nbsp;lead in farm or experience. These kinds of psychological early wins play a huge role&nbsp;in Dota 2, of course, but I think the greater emphasis on the power of late-game carries makes them less visible to players who aren't specifically looking for them.</p><p>'Momentum' is a word that comes up a lot while discussing the way that teams win games of Dota, and I've written before about the way that this can be thought of both in terms of game mechanics and team psychology. Wins tend to beget&nbsp;more wins, because you've gained a material and emotional advantage. 'Snowballing'.&nbsp;Recently, I've been thinking about this slightly differently. I think there comes a point in the game where your team is in a position to decisively flip the 'victory switch', to turn an <em>advantage </em>into a <em>done thing. </em>This means more than just following the trajectory your momentum has laid out for you&mdash;it means identifying an exact methodology for ending the game and then pulling it off. It means closing off uncertainty and confirming victory; if a team's surrender represents&nbsp;a collective willingness to lose, then flipping the victory switch means collectively voting to <em>win</em>.</p><p>In that Ares game, the 'switch' could be defined as the moment we planned and achieved a&nbsp;one-sided teamfight victory. In a game where the majority of players on both teams had found themselves taking inconclusive trades in the jungle, a single convincing five-on-five was needed to establish dominance. In a sense, our opponents were right to surrender when they did: that fight in mid demonstrated superior capability stemming from a better-rounded draft, and it is reasonable to assume that we'd be able to repeat that success throughout the game and ultimately win. It was the beginning of the end and therefore, in some ways, the end itself.</p><p>Teams throw away their leads&nbsp;when they fail to make their advantage appear insurmountable. In Smite, the version of this I've seen most often is the single-lane death push. The key objective in the game is a&nbsp;Titan which, unlike the Ancient, can fight back against an attacking team. It loses power with every lane of buildings that you eliminate, but players on a roll typically attempt to punch through a single lane and win the game the most direct way they can see. This is often a really good sign if it happens to you, because it demonstrates that your opponent is willing to take risks&mdash;they are keeping the possibility space of the match open even as they attempt to end it, giving you options rather than decisively flipping the switch that takes your options away.</p><p>In a Smite match like that, that 'switch' might constitute the destruction of&nbsp;a&nbsp;second lane of towers, another Phoenix,&nbsp;or the Fire Giant. In Dota 2 it might be a faked-out split push that baits enough teleports to open up Roshan, followed by a jungle invasion that catches the smoke gank designed to counter the push your opponent believes is coming. These strategies are rarely seen in mid-level pub matches because they require teams to stop, assess what it would take to undo their own advantage, and then act decisively to reduce the chance of that happening to near-zero. It requires a desire to <em>end</em>, not just <em>finish fast</em>.</p><p>Learning to play a game with a surrender option has helped me to get better at identifying these moments, because it gives you unique insight into the mind of the enemy team. A surrender call tells you the exact point at which you have successfully drained hope from the equation: where even<em> they</em> agree that the victory switch has been flipped, and flipped by you. Over the course of a couple of weeks you learn the various shapes that moment can take.</p><p>That it sometimes takes the form of&nbsp;a play by the guy who buys all of the wards is a bonus, all things considered.</p><p><em>To read more Three Lane Highway, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/three-lane-highway/">click here</a>.</em></p> Rogue Squadron 3D and Rebellion added to GOG's Star Wars cataloguehttp://www.pcgamer.com/rogue-squadron-3d-and-rebellion-added-to-gogs-star-wars-catalogue/Two more Star Wars games get their digital distribution début on GOG.Also Empire At War appears.Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:47:10 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/rogue-squadron-3d-and-rebellion-added-to-gogs-star-wars-catalogue/GOG.comNewsStar Wars <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/x8rjy510QoOO.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cJ1P1L1GFOUs.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Rogue Squadron"></p><p>Sam, PCG's UK editor, is visibly vibrating with excitement now that&nbsp;GOG has further expanded their catalogue of classic Star Wars games. While some new-old Star Wars would be more than enough for a tremor of anticipation, what's particularly caught his eye is the digital distribution début of Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3D.</p><p>Three new games have joined the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/x-wing-sequels-head-up-new-batch-of-star-wars-classics-on-gog/" target="_blank">six added</a> at the start of the week. Arcade dogfighter&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gog.com/game/star_wars_rogue_squadron_3d" target="_blank">Rogue Squadron 3D</a> and 4X&nbsp;strategy&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gog.com/game/star_wars_rebellion" target="_blank">Rebellion</a> make their first appearance in a digital storefront, while RTS&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gog.com/game/star_wars_empire_at_war_gold_pack" target="_blank">Empire At War</a> makes the DRM-free jump from Steam.</p><p>As always, the games should now work on modern systems&mdash;something Rogue Squadron, in particular, didn't like to do. This isn't the end of GOG's Star Wars season, either. Yet more games are set to appear in about five days time.</p><p><strong>Update:&nbsp;</strong>Like an blithering idiot, I didn't look at the press release GOG sent out, which actually names the final three games due to appear on 27 January. These are those:</p><ul><li><em style="background-color: initial;">Star Wars</em>&trade; Republic Commando</li><li><em style="background-color: initial;">Star Wars</em>&trade; Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II</li><li><em style="background-color: initial;">Star Wars</em>&trade; Starfighter</li></ul> EVGA GeForce GTX 960 reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/evga-geforce-gtx-960-review/Nvidia release their mid-range Maxwell, but can it deliver?Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:04:33 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/evga-geforce-gtx-960-review/graphics cardHardwareNvidiaTech <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Tech Specs</h5> <p> <strong>GPU -</strong> Nvidia GM 206 <br> <strong>CUDA cores -</strong> 1,024 <br> <strong>ROPs -</strong> 32 <br> <strong>Base clock - </strong>1,279MHz <br> <strong>Boost clock - </strong>1,342MHz <br> <strong>Memory capacity -</strong> 2GB GDDR5 <br> <strong>Memory bus -</strong> 128-bit <br> <strong>PCIe power -</strong> 8-pin </p> </div><p> The new Maxwell GPU is exactly what you’d expect from a modern mid-range graphics card. It nails 1080p gaming performance, wont tear into your wallet like an angry badger and does it all within a decent thermal and power envelope.</p><p> I can't help but feel underwhelmed, though, which is surprising given how&nbsp;excited I’ve been about the previous&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/gigabyte-geforce-gtx-970-g1-gaming-review/" target="_blank">Maxwell-based cards</a>. That's even despite&nbsp;the fact I’ve got one of the most overclocked versions of the GTX 960 sat in my test rig: the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC.&nbsp;After witnessing the excellent GeForce GTX 970 far outstripping its predecessor, the GTX 770, the GTX 960’s GPU feels like it’s been designed to only&nbsp;put in the bare minimum of effort.</p><p> The GeForce GTX 960 is a generational update to the outgoing GTX 760 and, while it consistently bests it’s forebear across my gaming benchmarks, it doesn’t really do it by any particularly impressive extent.&nbsp;As Nvidia themselves have said to me though, they don’t really see this part as an upgrade from the GTX 760&mdash;it's intended&nbsp;for those who are still sitting on either a GTX 660 or GTX 560.</p><p> That is though a pretty hefty demographic, according to Nvidia. They assert that two of three PC gamers are currently running a GTX 660 or older. These people are going to need to upgrade their cards soon for the next glut of games and, if they’re sticking in the same price range, then the new GTX 960 is surely going to be the card for them.</p><p> <strong>Tech specs</strong></p><p> For the GeForce GTX 960 Nvidia have created a new iteration of the Maxwell GPU. The GM 206 is their mid-range Maxwell chip and houses a total of 1,024 CUDA cores spread across eight SMMs. With that comes 64 texture units and some 32 ROPs.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/jsr-fRKvQHCj.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/GB-U7RxCD4J5.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="GTX 960 block diagram"></p><p> Compared with the Kepler GPU Nvidia used in its GTX 760 that spec’s actually looking a little miserly. The GK 104 chip had a full 1,152 cores across six SMX units with 96 texture units and the same 32 ROPs.</p><p> The Maxwell streaming microprocessors (SM) are made up of 128 cores in each opposed to the 192 cores of the old Kepler architecture, but the more efficient new graphics tech is able to nail the same performance with fewer cores.&nbsp;</p><p> Considering the GTX 970 still threw in a whole extra SMM unit worth of CUDA cores into its recipe I’d hoped for a bit more oomph in my GTX 960 spec.&nbsp;What we do have though is a much higher clock speed. The older card’s base clock was 980MHz, but the standard GM 206 is set at 1,126MHz with a 1,178MHz boost clock. In practice with this EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC card though I never saw the GPU running at those apparently-conservative speeds.</p><p> My review card was consistently hitting between 1,417MHz and 1,430MHz.&nbsp;And even when the EVGA card was powering along at that speed it was never loud.&nbsp;The peak temperature I hit was a mere 73C, and that’s only after a fair bit of work. During desktop use though it’s entirely silent. That’s because when the GPU is running at less than 65C it’s more than happy to operate with the EVGA ACX 2.0+ cooling working in passive mode alone&mdash;that means no spinning fans, and no noise.&nbsp;Even when those fans do spool up though the ACX 2.0+ cooling array is seriously quiet in-game.</p><p> The memory architecture is the standout news from the GeForce GTX 960 spec sheet. It's got 2GB of GDDR5&mdash;the bare minimum for a gaming graphics card these days, and a 128-bit memory bus, which could be a problem.</p><p> The now-familiar refrain from Nvidia is that they've got some funky new memory algorithms which make a mockery of such concerns. The Nvidia 128-bit bus is still able to deliver a total memory bandwidth of 112GB/s and with the new memory compression techniques that goes up to an effective 149GB/s. That is still short of the 192GB/s memory bandwidth of the 256-bit bus in the GTX 760 however, but beats the 144GB/s of the GK 106 GPU in the positively geriatric GTX 660.</p><p> It's possible that if&nbsp;the GTX 960 had been released with the same 256-bit bus as its Maxwell brethren then 960 SLI setups could have cannibalised Nvidia's recent&nbsp;single-card solutions. A pair of 960s is still a potent force, beating a GTX 980 in some benchmarks. But for beyond-1080p resolutions even two&nbsp;of 128-bit memory buses can't help.</p><p> <strong>Gaming</strong></p><p> As a mid-range 1080p gaming card the EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC performs exactly as you would expect it to. I’m saying that only because we’ve already got similarly priced cards performing at almost exactly the same levels.</p><p> Sapphire’s Radeon R9 285 Dual-X is around the same price as EVGA’s seriously overclocked GTX 960 and the two match each other blow for blow in&nbsp;benchmark terms. I’ve also got my hands on an Asus STRIX GeForce GTX 960 OC Edition, which doesn’t quite go as far as the EVGA in terms of clockspeed. But that doesn’t actually seem to matter much&nbsp;in terms of gaming performance.&nbsp;Even though this EVGA card is clocked a good deal higher than the Asus&mdash;the SuperSC is hitting 1,430MHz versus the STRIX at 1,354MHz&mdash;there's only a tiny difference in FPS terms.</p><p> That’s going to make it tougher to justify the purchase of an expensive overclocked card like either the Asus or this EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC. With a decent cooler most GTX 960 cards are going to be capable of hitting almost identical levels of performance with a little light overclocking.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6wWib3uYSW2u.JPG" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/4sos8QeWkH-X.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC boxed"></p><p> Despite the fact AMD don’t seem to have released a new GPU in the last epoch, there is one other card vying for attention in this arena: the R9 280. The Tahiti Pro GPU at its heart may be three years old now, but because it was a top-end card of its time it’s rocking a 384-bit bus and 3GB of GDDR5 memory. And it’s considerably cheaper than the GTX 960.</p><p> But I still wouldn’t recommend you buy that card over either the R9 285 or any GTX 960. The memory architecture is tempting, but if you’re not looking to stray beyond the bounds of 1080p gaming any time soon you’re much better off with either of the two more modern cards.</p><p> On the AMD side you get access to the upcoming FreeSync monitor technology as well as the Radeon version of GPU clock boosting. With the Nvidia card you get access to their monitor syncing tech&mdash;G-Sync&mdash;as well as a host of other proprietary technologies.</p><p> One of the key ones Nvidia have been keen to talk about around the GTX 960 launch is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/nvidia-finally-adds-mfaa-to-maxwell-gpus-with-34475-driver/" target="_blank">multi-frame anti-aliasing (MFAA)</a>.&nbsp;We spoke about this at the launch of the GTX 980 where it was first introduced, but essentially it’s a new method of anti-aliasing which approximates 4x MSAA by alternately using different 2x samples. MFAA then offers almost identical visual fidelity to 4x MSAA with the performance hit of only 2x MSAA.</p><p> Unfortunately it doesn’t work with every game, but where it does you’ll see a bit of a performance boost without a visual hit. It’s also synced with GeForce Experience, so you don’t necessarily have to spend ages digging around to set it up.</p><p> These are all just value-added extras though, and it has to come down to which card performs the best. Overall I think the GTX 960, especially in this beefy EVGA SuperSC trim, just about has the edge over the Radeon R9 285. But it’s a close run thing and I’d argue anybody buying either card for a top 1080p gaming PC wouldn’t regret their purchase.</p><p> But that still doesn’t make the GTX 960 particularly exciting. People are unlikely to go rushing out to ditch their existing GPU to make way for a GTX 960. No-one’s going to be trolling AMD forums shouting about their GTX 960 setup.</p><p> That won't stop it from selling an absolute shed-load.&nbsp;For the mid-range upgrade market it’s one of only two cards you’d look to for a powerful 1080p gaming rig.&nbsp;So, functional? Hell, yes.&nbsp;Exciting? No.</p><p> <strong>Benchmarks</strong></p><p> DirectX11 synthetic performance</p><p> Heaven 4.0 (2560x1600) - (Min) Avg FPS: higher is better<br> EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC - (10) 20<br> Asus STRIX GTX 960 OC - (11) 20<br> Nvidia GTX 760 - (12) 20<br> AMD Radeon R9 285 - (12) 21</p><p> DirectX11 1080p gaming performance</p><p> Battlefield 4 - (Min) Avg FPS: higher is better<br> EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC - (43) 64<br> Asus STRIX GTX 960 OC - (39) 58<br> Nvidia GTX 760 - (26) 48<br> AMD Radeon R9 285 - (34) 54</p><p> Bioshock Infinite - (Min) Avg FPS: higher is better<br> EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC - (14) 73<br> Asus STRIX GTX 960 OC - (19) 75<br> Nvidia GTX 760 - (13) 66<br> AMD Radeon R9 285 - (17) 78</p><p> Company of Heroes 2 - (Min) Avg FPS: higher is better<br> EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC - (22) 34<br> Asus STRIX GTX 960 OC - (20) 32<br> Nvidia GTX 760 - (12) 24<br> AMD Radeon R9 285 - (19) 33</p><p> GRID 2 - (Min) Avg FPS: higher is better<br> EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC - (70) 90<br> Asus STRIX GTX 960 OC - (70) 90<br> Nvidia GTX 760 - (58) 75<br> AMD Radeon R9 285 - (68) 84</p><p> Shadow of Mordor - (Min) Avg FPS: higher is better<br> EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC - (20) 37<br> Asus STRIX GTX 960 OC - (16) 36<br> Nvidia GTX 760 - (13) 25<br> MD Radeon R9 285 - (16) 45</p><p> DirectX11 1600p gaming performance</p><p> Metro: Last Light - (Min) Avg FPS: higher is better<br> EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC - (13) 18<br> Asus STRIX GTX 960 OC - (13) 18<br> Nvidia GTX 760 - (10) 15<br> AMD Radeon R9 285 - (13) 18</p><p> SLI 1600p gaming performance</p><p> Battlefield 4 - (Min) Avg FPS: higher is better<br> 2x Nvidia GTX 960 - (38) 62<br> Nvidia GTX 970 - (33) 52<br> Nvidia GTX 980 - (35) 61</p><p> GRID 2 - (Min) Avg FPS: higher is better<br> 2x Nvidia GTX 960 - (43) 60<br> Nvidia GTX 970 - (67) 84<br> Nvidia GTX 980 - (80) 101</p><p> Shadow of Mordor - (Min) Avg FPS: higher is better<br> 2x Nvidia GTX 960 - (8) 37<br> Nvidia GTX 970 - (29) 46<br> Nvidia GTX 980 - (21) 57</p> Her Story is a live-action crime story, now on Greenlighthttp://www.pcgamer.com/her-story-is-an-live-action-crime-story-now-on-greenlight/Experimental police procedural is due out early this year.Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:49:18 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/her-story-is-an-live-action-crime-story-now-on-greenlight/AdventureGreenlightHer StoryNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VlvtPrg6T4ix.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/24SX0kcWHOJj.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Her Story"></p><p>Now <em>this </em>is interesting. Live action in games may give you flashbacks to a bald man trying to conquer the world in Command &amp; Conquer (or, gods&nbsp;forbid, Night Trap), but I've long suspected it could be used in less, er,&nbsp;camp situations. Her Story looks like just that: it's a crime fiction game in which you search video interviews stored in a police database.</p><p>It's being created by Sam Barlow, who wrote Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and... actually, let's take a quick tangent.</p><p><strong>***A TANGENT***</strong></p><p>Sam Barlow also made Aisle, an interactive fiction game created back in 1999. It's a remarkable game&mdash;a single action story that changes its context based on what you tell your character to do. It was also remarkably effective as a tutorial for the genre. With one action to make, you're free to explore the limits of the text parser without consequence, letting you get a feel for what's possible to do. It's&nbsp;<a href="http://iplayif.com/?story=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ifarchive.org%2Fif-archive%2Fgames%2Fzcode%2FAisle.z5" target="_blank">well worth a play</a>.</p><p><strong>***END OF TANGENT***</strong></p><p>As for Her Story, it sounds like it'll be pretty easy to get to grips with. "If you can Google, you can play Her Story," writes Barlow on&nbsp;<a href="http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=374726365" target="_blank">the game's Greenlight page</a>.&nbsp;"The mechanic of searching for clips in the database is so simple that anyone can pick up and play. But it’s a mechanic that quickly reveals its richness and complexity. At times it can feel like you’re engaged in a genuine dialogue with this woman and her story. It’s a unique way to interact with a narrative, a sculptural way of viewing a story -- and something that can only be done interactively."</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/wldus8AVdOM?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>If you're interested, you can vote for the game on the aforementioned Greenlight page. Alternatively, head to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.herstorygame.com/" target="_blank">official Her Story website</a>.</p>