PC Gamer latest storieshttp://www.pcgamer.com/feed/en-usMon, 25 May 2015 01:33:56 +0000yesHow League of Legends can learn from other esports sceneshttp://www.pcgamer.com/how-league-of-legends-can-learn-from-other-esports-scenes/Speaking as a writer that covers a scene easily considered one of the most well-funded and supported in the entire esports ecology... I'm kind of jealous of everybody else.Mon, 25 May 2015 01:33:56 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/how-league-of-legends-can-learn-from-other-esports-scenes/esportsLeague of LegendsLoLwatchMOBA <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/MvBXTv-SR1-5.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/i6MyyZn0_7ZC.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Season One World Championship, by LoLesports"></p><p>Speaking as a writer that covers a scene easily considered one of the most well-funded and supported in the entire esports ecology... I'm kind of jealous of everybody else. </p><p>It's not as if the League of Legends scene isn't vibrant and healthy&mdash;the increased challenger scene support across the board (with rumors of an expanded tournament even here in Taiwan) guarantees a baseline of fresh talent even as the current generation of pro players retire or burn out. The collegiate scene just had a major Riot-backed and casted face-off a while ago as well. So Riot's plans to extend the health of the scene for years to come seems like it's ticking away like a well-oiled machine. Though it'll be at least five more years (twice its current lifetime) before we truly know if their investment's paid off, we do know that they've successfully dominated the Korean and Chinese esports scene for a length of time unprecedented by any game but Brood War.</p><p>That's not too shabby for a company younger than my baby sister. Yet it's also been a dominance and longevity entirely driven by them as well&mdash;a case of strongly top-down design. And that inherently has some limitations and restrictions for how the scene develops.</p><h3>Lessons from the bootstrap</h3><p>I've gotten deeply into the Super Smash Bros. Wii U scene lately, and it is definitely Quite The Other Thing. Twitch's recent acquisition of D'Ron Maingrette and Arian Fathieh, major community figures, speaks well of the game's current growth. But while the whole Project M kerfuffle hinted at heavy-handed measures from Nintendo or other involved corporate interests, there is no dispute whatsoever that the Smash scene is one of almost purely grassroots love.</p><p>There are drawbacks to the grassroots approach, of course. No careful reputations management and background checks means you get the Alex Strifes floating around, making everybody involved with Apex look bad. There are the rookie tournament organizers running events for the first time, like seemingly with MVG Sandstorm, and drowning under the unexpected seas of complexity as they juggle schedules, setup malfunctions, busted CRT TVs, Challonge messing up the ladder, upon other crises. And all amid a much larger crowd of participants than the 10-20 they originally expected. Not to mention drunk casters, drunk players, and drunk hecklers&mdash;even in supposedly dry events!</p><p>On the other hand, that's also where the charm is. The informality and lack of barriers between tournament "officials," players, and audience is something you can't replicate even with Riot's almost obsessive approach to public interaction (and which Valve refuses to try at all). There is a very tangible sort of communal ownership&mdash;nobody visible in the scene's gotten to where they are without making their bones as just another player getting yelled at for tripping over a console by an overstressed TO. </p><p>For all of its lows, the heights of grassroots hype is unmatched and heady. Its best TOs are amazing organizers, <em>especially</em> with a shoestring budget. Its best rivalries are entirely organic&mdash;the trashtalk all the better for the peppery fire of offscreen interactions that makes the TSM vs CLG beef look like lean lunchmeat. While the League of Legends era mainstream tournament conductors have done a much better job of humanizing its competitors (the complaints about robotic KeSPA players fallen by the wayside), there is no escaping its nature as an engineered media event.</p><p>ZeRo calling out Falcon mains and Smash Wii U players in general was definitely deliberate on his part. But it was no company-manufactured hype. It wasn't a storyline sold to heighten and maintain an audience's interests&mdash;it was the champion from Chile throwing the gauntlet down at friends, allies, enemies and rivals alike out of personal interest and investment in the growth of the Smash Wii U scene. Presumably just the same as his friends, allies, enemies and rivals.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qU2HIr7HRHii.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/huUsE4Eq3cbx.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Alphadraft Challenger League"></p><p>There isn't a whole lot of that in League, is there? No money matches in quite a while. Salty suites risk fines if they get too salty (not that we shouldn't, frankly, fine all or most of EUW and EUNE anyhow). Heck, small-scale weeklies have fallen by the wayside of the lumbering, unstoppable LCS machine. Alphadraft's Challenger League's the latest and last of those beasts&mdash;but how indie do we really consider a site backed by a Donald Sterling-led investment round worth a posh $5 million? </p><p>I'm not really calling for a return to Season 2, when we had DOTA2 and CS:GO's current superabundance problem, with the packed and overlapping schedule of tournaments diluted the importance and hype of all but the biggest. But I do wonder why the grassroots level's so poor, especially in the west. It's not as if has to be&mdash;China's got so many tournaments, EDG claimed a cool 22 trophies in the course of a year. And, sure, LPL letting their top teams play is kind of cheating compared to the LCS situation&mdash;but where's the interest in running locals and regionals?</p><p>Why are we, as a scene, satisfied with just watching TSM play, or Faker dunking mid lane newbs? Why aren't <em>you</em> running a summoner showdown from out of your dorm, having people square off on Howling Abyss 1v1s for the fun of it, and baiting it with a nice little pool of prize money made from the entry fees? </p><h3>Where it starts</h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/i3_AGvgbTbWr.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3h-BbgRQud6U.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Leaguecraft ggClassic banner"></p><p>Let me make one last indulgent callback to the days of Season 2, when I was still a wide-eyed esports rookie. Most people know Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles as OnGameNet's star analyst, breaking down the intricacies of Korean play for the western audience. Some might remember that he was owner and founder of ggChronicle, one of the first independent coverage sites dedicated to League of Legends (Solomid.net predates it, but was obviously answerable to team interests). </p><p>Long before League of Legends was an international phenomena, selling out the Staples Center and dominating the esports world, MonteCristo was a paralegal running a community site on the side, paying out of his own pocket to send me up to San Francisco for Curse Invitational coverage (I've since deleted and burned the videos&mdash;I have horrible camera presence), and personally hitting the beat to get advertisers to back the ggClassic. We were the first western organization to get the Taipei Assassins to face off against western teams, long before their Season 2 World Championship win. One of the vanishingly few to do regular recaps of the GPL, the first of the game's weekly circuits, and the OnGameNet Champions under Moletrap. My fellow writers, podcasters and vloggers from that era now range from supervising editor at Canada's TheScore (hi Matt), to Riot employees, or to professional casters.</p><p>None of us were anything particularly special, except that we chose to be involved instead of staying spectators. We loved the scene, and wanted to be a part of it&mdash;not apart from it. And that's what's required to keep the scene healthy in the years to come: not just for its players to be fostered and trained to ever-heightened levels, but for people to want to give them a place to show off their increasing skills, and to hand over a mic for casters to learn to get over stage fright.</p><p>We can't rely on Riot for everything. We really shouldn't want to. Eventually, you'll have to ask yourself "what can I do?"</p><p>And then, simply, you do it.</p> GTA 5 mod adds Just Cause 2 grappling hookhttp://www.pcgamer.com/gta-5-mod-adds-just-cause-2-grappling-hook/It was inevitable.Mon, 25 May 2015 01:00:34 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/gta-5-mod-adds-just-cause-2-grappling-hook/ActionGrand Theft Auto 5GTA 5ModsNews <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MLdOvJuFZsg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>One of the most disappointing things about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/gta-5/">GTA 5</a> is that it's impossible to tether a semi-trailer to a train and watch the ensuing explosions. Until now. A new mod introduces the Just Cause 2 grappling hook to Los Santos, offering a quick and easy way to scale downtown skyscrapers. It also lets you connect vehicles, which never gets boring.</p><p>The work of&nbsp;JulioNIB, the mod can be&nbsp;<a href="http://gtaxscripting.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/gta-v-just-cause-2-grappling-hook-mod.html">downloaded here</a>, but be careful: Rockstar has stated that&nbsp;mods are acceptable in singleplayer only, and some recent mods have been found to carry malware,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-gta-5-mods/">so proceed with all the necessary precautions</a>.</p><p>For more mods, check out our list of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-gta-5-mods/">best GTA 5 mods</a>.&nbsp;</p> John Carmack to keynote Oculus Connect 2http://www.pcgamer.com/john-carmack-to-keynote-oculus-connect-2/VR conference to return in September.Sun, 24 May 2015 23:32:40 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/john-carmack-to-keynote-oculus-connect-2/John CarmackNewsOculus RIFTOculus VR <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hm6SQ1WeThm8.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/y1wOMuDpR8GX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="John Carmack and the Oculus Rift"></p><p>John Carmack will keynote the Oculus Connect conference in Hollywood this September. It's the second Oculus Connect following&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/oculus-connect-developer-conference-announced-carmack-and-luckey-to-keynote/">last year's debut</a>, and will occur at a pretty crucial time for VR technology: Valve and HTC are expected to release a consumer version of their&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/steamvr-hands-on-valve-overtakes-oculus/">Vive headset</a> before year end, while Oculus has indicated it will likely follow in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/oculus-rift-release-date/">the first quarter of 2016</a>.</p><p>Oculus&nbsp;CEO Brendan Iribe and head scientist Michael Abrash will also deliver keynotes, though Palmer Luckey won't, if the conference's official&nbsp;<a href="https://www.oculus.com/connect/">website</a> is any indication. Wes&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/oculus-connect-interview-luckys-tale-developers-on-finding-the-mario-brick-for-vr-platformers/">interviewed Luckey</a> at last year's event, and also got hands-on with the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/oculus-rift-crescent-bay-prototype-hands-on-experiencing-true-vr-presence-for-the-first-time/">Crescent Bay prototype</a>.</p><p>While Carmack's legendary QuakeCon keynotes are no longer thanks to his split from id Software, he gets about: he spoke on the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/gdc-2015-talks-vault/">dawn of mobile VR at GDC</a> back in March.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Game of Checkers, Part 7: a tiny drama in CK2's Game of Thrones modhttp://www.pcgamer.com/game-of-checkers-part-7/This week, the Fingers begin to slip through my fingers.Sun, 24 May 2015 18:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/game-of-checkers-part-7/Crusader Kings 2DiaryGame of CheckersStrategy <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/G4x4g2VKQYKO.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/U7mUsGcQR6NM.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Checkers"></p><p><em>Last year I played a multi-generational game of grand strategy </em><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/crusader-kings-2-review/">Crusader Kings 2</a><em> using the </em><a href="http://www.moddb.com/mods/crusader-kings-2-a-game-of-thrones-ck2agot">A Game of Thrones mod</a><em>, which transforms the historical medieval setting of CK2 into the continent of Westeros from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels (and the HBO series). My goal was to play as the most minor of lords and experience the conflict and drama of Westeros from the ground floor. </em><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/game-of-checkers/">Game of Checkers</a><em> will run on Sundays for ten weeks.</em></p><h2>Island Hopping</h2><p>Rosie has died, and once again I'm playing the game as a little girl, Rosie's daughter, Daisy. Of course,&nbsp;my most pressing task is to find a future husband.</p><p>I propose to Pearse Waters, who just happens to be the son of the (current, most likely temporary) King of the Iron Throne, Michael Waters. It's a matrilineal arrangement, naturally, so any kids we have will be of my dynasty and not his.&nbsp;I also try to take care of my younger&nbsp;brother, Neejerk, in anticipation of him getting cranky or even stabby&nbsp;if I ever have children.&nbsp;I bestow upon him my smallest holding, the island called&nbsp;The Paps. Why not? Despite being the cause of most of the recent drama, it's a tiny island with 72 soldiers on it. As my vassal he'll probably&nbsp;vote for himself&nbsp;as heir, thanks to the elective succession I had to resort to a couple generations ago, but I’ll still have my vote against his.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Hb3NnmlGQGel.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-X1qhpl5pXfn.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Checkers"></p><p>As Lady of the Fingers, it’s also up to me to arrange marriages for anyone who needs one, such as&nbsp;my recently widowed father, Moryn Blackbar. Naturally, I look up Daenerys Stormborn, one of the few characters from the books who is still alive. I’ve been dying to have her in my court pretty much since I started playing, so I arrange their marriage. I know she’s 61 and my dad is much younger, but she’s still Daenerys and she's still cool and I want her stalking through&nbsp;my little castle, coldly&nbsp;demanding to know where her dragons are.</p><p>Unfortunately, Margery Tyrell dies at age 65, and my&nbsp;dad, who is Margery's son,&nbsp;leaves for the Reach, having inherited some holdings there. He takes Daenerys with him, naturally. Just when she got here! Ah, well.&nbsp;At least she’ll be living in a proper city instead of my cruddy little castle.</p><p>Daisy, now age 15, marries her child groom, Pearse Waters, age 14, and immediately becomes pregnant.&nbsp;She gives birth to a son, Nobbrick, and I nominate him as my&nbsp;heir. Neejerk gets on board with the program, surprisingly, and votes for Nobbrick as well, marking the first time a family member has ever done anything pleasantly in line with my wishes.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QcZjRFVLTMy4.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3bULDs_Y343e.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Checkers"></p><p>The current&nbsp;war for The Iron Throne&nbsp;spills over into The Vale, but we win a quick victory and march into the Riverlands led by my liege, Gilwood.&nbsp;Then, Gilwood dies. My new liege and Lord Paramount of The Vale is named&nbsp;Penthar Hersey. By this point things have gotten so convoluted that even after&nbsp;spending a few minutes clicking around in Hersey's&nbsp;family tree I still have no real idea why he’s the heir to The Vale.</p><p>Something else I don't quite understand:&nbsp;Hersey has no&nbsp;liege of his own. I’m not sure why or how, but Hersey is not beholden to the Iron Throne. At some point during this latest war,&nbsp;The Vale has claimed independence.&nbsp;Since we're not fighting on behalf of The Iron Throne anymore, we have no real business being out here in the Riverlands.&nbsp;I can’t safely disband my soldiers, however, because I’m in enemy territory. I have to manually march&nbsp;my army all the way back home&nbsp;or only a fraction of them will make it safely&nbsp;through hostile country.</p><p>This isn’t really a problem, until it very suddenly is. As my army tromps slowly east,&nbsp;Lord Paramount Mathis of The Reach suddenly comes up with a claim on The Paps, and ships full of his soldiers arrive and begin sacking&nbsp;it.&nbsp;With my army&nbsp;half a continent away, and with barely any soldiers of their own,&nbsp;The Paps falls almost instantly. Neejerk, kicked out of his castle,&nbsp;goes to live in&nbsp;Dalston Keep with his wife.</p><p>Just like that,&nbsp;Lord Paramount Mathis has taken The Paps.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/pvLOybxuSUWb.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/53NE7OFxxncm.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Checkers"></p><h2>A Fleet of Foes</h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/eyL82Yw0SXSB.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/fZyL4Q-Ynw4o.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Checkers"></p><p>Well, I'm not going to stand for that, not after all the trouble taking The Paps caused in the first place.&nbsp;Of course, being Lord Paramount, Mathis has a number of allies. I have an ally too. You may have heard of him? King Michael Waters&nbsp;of the Iron Throne? It doesn't matter that The Vale is independent&nbsp;because King Michael&nbsp;is my father-in-law. He'll fight for me.</p><p>I declare war on The Reach for the Paps. A split-second later, however, The Riverlands declares war on the Iron Throne. <em>Sigh</em>. It appears King Michael&nbsp;will be a little too busy to send any help my way. I hire a sellsword infantry to boost my numbers, but before they&nbsp;arrive&nbsp;I notice&nbsp;Mathis has sent for help. 33 ships from the Reach arrive on Sunset Keep, where I’ve been waiting for the mercenaries to march over from my other island,&nbsp;Pebble. There’s only about 1,500 soldiers enemy soldiers in Sunset Keep, versus my almost 3,000. Still, they manage to turn the tide and whittle down my numbers before help can arrive. The sellswords join me&nbsp;just&nbsp;before I’m defeated, and the Reach army retreats.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/KMD6m-t0TzqO.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/UsPWvR6zsnxH.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Checkers"></p><p>As we march to The Paps, Mathis raises his own levies&nbsp;and we clash on the tiny island. Bolstered by mercs, we force Mathis to retreat&nbsp;and begin sacking the stronghold. Then, some very bad news. A full 7,000 Reach soldiers appear from the west and&nbsp;join up with the retreating army of Mathis. They begin sacking Sunset Keep.</p><p>Mathis leaves 1,500 men behind to continue the&nbsp;siege, and the rest of his soldiers arrive on The Paps. I don’t have enough gold to buy another squad of mercs, and even if I did, they still&nbsp;wouldn’t be enough. Mathis tears my army to shreds.</p><p>Kicked off the island, we march to Sunset Keep, hoping to at least prevent it from being sacked by the forces there. We fail, again, and&nbsp;are forced to retreat to Snakewood&nbsp;with only 500 soldiers left. My only hope is to offer peace and try to save Sunset Keep. It’ll cost me 200 prestige, and as teenager I haven’t even gained that much, but no one will answer my calls for help. I have to straight up surrender. I’m broke, I’m at negative prestige, and I’ve lost The Paps.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/UoRvZYDWQjWF.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YsShY0Of_c9I.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Checkers"></p><p>Just to rub it in,&nbsp;Mathis&mdash;who by taking over The Paps has actually become&nbsp;my vassal&mdash;does <em>not </em>vote for my son Nobbrick&nbsp;to inherit The Fingers. He votes for himself.&nbsp;I'm forced to generate&nbsp;a new ally the old-fashioned way: I become pregnant again.</p><p>My liege abruptly&nbsp;dies, and we have a new Lord Paramount named Paxter. Hilariously, Paxter's very first act as new Lord Paramount&nbsp;of The Vale is to&nbsp;immediately declare war on Mathis of The Paps. Works for me! I’m not sure this will personally get me The Paps, back but at least Mathis won’t keep it either. I drag my exhausted, humiliated handful of soldiers out of their shops and stables and press them back into service.</p><p>Mathis marches off The Paps&nbsp;and starts sacking Sunset Keep again, and my small forces can’t repel him. I notice with some alarm that most of Paxter's soldiers are actually headed south to meet the Reach army that’s arriving to back up Mathis, but enough of them rush Sunset Keep to chase Mathis’ forces back to The Paps. A fleet of 93 galleys from The Reach&nbsp;skims by, heading for The Sisters, the island chain to the north. It looks like they’re trying to attack from all sides. This is quickly becoming a full blown war.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WTe8F7ALSUaz.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2M_iAcwDk3zd.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Checkers"></p><p>4,100 soldiers from The Reach&nbsp;land on Bite Coast and begin marching inland. Meanwhile, down at Bloodgate, the entrance to The Vale, the bulk of the Valeman army outnumber the Reach soldiers 3 to 1 and win a decisive victory. The soldiers from The Reach&nbsp;begin sacking Heart's Home, as two thousand more hurry over to bolster them.</p><p>In the midst of all this, <em style="background-color: initial;">another</em>&nbsp;war begins. Dornish Spearmen have chosen this moment to&nbsp;invade the Vale. They’ve decided&nbsp;to start their invasion in Sunset Keep, naturally, but having just dispensed of most of The Reach soldiers, 17,000 Valemen quickly put a stop to that. Meanwhile, I’m still trying to sack The Paps with only a handful of men, and it's taking ages. Thankfully, Paxter himself, and 8,000 of his men, are on the way.</p><p>While my army struggles to take back The Paps,&nbsp;I’m in Pebble&nbsp;giving birth to my second son, who I name Needrick. I figure someday when he’s my brother and not my son, he’ll be very needy.&nbsp;As I'm wiping gunk off my newborn baby, my&nbsp;Master of Whispers strolls in and is all, "Hi, hope you enjoyed your four minutes of maternity leave." It seems there’s a plot underway&nbsp;to usurp my liege&nbsp;Paxter and replace him with someone named Lyonel, and I’ve been invited to join it. The plot has been hatched by Lord Branston of Coldwater Burn, which complicates things.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WKf6Rpl7TCuz.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/FFr0bmkRmTuD.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Checkers"></p><p>Coldwater Burn, see,&nbsp;is the piece of&nbsp;land I have to physically walk my armies through anytime I need to leave Pebble,&nbsp;Wycliffe, or Midlor point. If I make them my enemies, I'd basically have to go to war just to step out my front door.&nbsp;Plus, the lords from Runestone, Scorched Vale, and Crab’s Shore are all on board. Still, I don't want to revolt against Paxter when he's actively trying to reclaim my lost island. I tell Branston I'm not interested.</p><p>The news isn't taken well. Coldwater Burn, led by Lord Lyonel himself, immediately invades Wycliffe with 1,000 men and sends another 550 into Pebble. I’m not worried: Lord Paxter has 8,000 of his men currently standing on The Paps. Surely, he’ll leap to defend my home!</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iWebimjgQhGy.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5q093ln-WIRu.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Checkers"></p><p>Paxter doesn't leap. Paxter doesn't do anything. He just stands on The Paps with his 8,000 men. Dude. Hello? I’m trying to put down a rebellion against you. Help? Help!</p><p>Paxter&nbsp;doesn’t help.</p><h2>War Never Changes</h2><p>I’m desperate, now. I take out a loan from the Iron Bank and hire 1,200 mercs. I have only&nbsp;4 gold to pay their monthly fees with, so this war needs to be over right quick. The hired swords&nbsp;chase my enemies off Pebble, but the retreating soldiers&nbsp;merge with Lyonel’s forces sacking Wycliffe and return to&nbsp;kick the crap&nbsp;out of us. We lose repeated battles, dashing back and forth between Pebble and Wycliffe, chased by Lyonel’s larger army. Sunset Keep is under siege&nbsp;as well by another army backing Lyonel. The Fingers are burning.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3Kd0YrPhScm2.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Iin_56dRM0wC.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Checkers" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p>All the while, 8,000 of Paxter's&nbsp;soldiers&nbsp;are still standing motionless on The Paps, and I finally realize why. The war over The Paps, between Mathis and Paxter, hasn’t actually ended. Mathis himself is out in the field, killing time&nbsp;until he’s replenished by more soldiers from The Reach. Paxter is unwilling to leave The Paps because if he does, The Reach will retake it when they arrive. They're in a little standoff, and while they both stall I'm losing everything.</p><p>Since Paxter is of no use to me, I desperately&nbsp;try to throw in with Lord Lyonel by forming a new faction: Lord Lyonel for the Vale! Maybe he’ll see the announcement in the local paper and stop trying to kill&nbsp;me? He doesn’t, and he doesn't.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bLKqno00RNiP.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/R-LOp-GVf8JI.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Checkers"></p><p>Having sacked Sunset Keep, The Reach army marches to The Paps and engages the inert Valemen standing there. The Valemen are run off, but&nbsp;try to take Sunset Keep back. I quickly change factions again&nbsp;to support Paxter, and hope he didn’t notice my brief and desperate&nbsp;betrayal. My&nbsp;sellswords all suddenly quit due to the fact that I've run out of money. All of The Fingers have been invaded, and a number of other counties have swapped ownership. The Vale is a complete&nbsp;mess.</p><p>A raven arrives: Nanndrick has died at age 45. I know I’m related to her, but I&nbsp;can’t even remember specifically who she is at the moment. Another note informs me that&nbsp;Brienne of Tarth has&nbsp;died at age 76 of natural causes. Some good news arrives:&nbsp;Mathis has croaked in battle, leaving his son Loras in charge of the Paps. Loras, of course, immediately votes for himself as&nbsp;heir to The Fingers. Stupid&nbsp;elective succession!</p><p>Through the smoke filling my chambers, I read another note.&nbsp;Lord Branston of Coldwater Burn is&nbsp;asking a second time if I want to join him against Paxter. This time I say yes. I don't know how much trouble I'll be in if Paxter wins, but aligning with him hasn't done me many favors.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3xuYClwmRJan.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/L8v1IauTS5V3.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Checkers"></p><p>Years have passed during all this, by the way. <em>Years</em>. I was fifteen when this all began. Now I’m 25. Paxter loses the war, is captured and&nbsp;imprisoned, and promptly dies in jail. Lyonel is now Lord Paramount. Lyonel’s first act? Can you guess what it is?&nbsp;Correct: he&nbsp;immediately declares war on Loras of The Reach. <em>For The Paps</em>. The war over this stupid tiny worthless island is never going to end.</p><p>Since I have no money to fight, and few soldiers left, I might as well get busy ruining lives in other ways. I arrange marriages for my&nbsp;two sons to a couple of&nbsp;unfortunate young women&nbsp;they've never met. Meanwhile, there's a sharp knock on the splinters that used to be my front door:&nbsp;The Iron Bank has sent someone over to get&nbsp;their loan repaid. I raise taxes, and become pregnant again.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PFu3LYiLT9q5.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3j5KsDUZqDRk.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Checkers"></p><p>Thankfully, a nice&nbsp;chunk of tax money appears, just enough to pay back the Iron Bank. I’m broke, again,&nbsp;but at least I’m not in debt. The war for the Paps, believe it or not, is still going on.</p><p>I give birth to a third son. I name him Nomordrick because, seriously, <em>no more</em>.&nbsp;The war for The Paps finally, blessedly, ends, with Loras of the Reach still in charge of it. We have one millisecond of peace before a new war starts due to another claim on The Vale. Actually, <em>two&nbsp;</em>claims&nbsp;this time, both being pressed at once. Crab’s Shore wants Sarya Waynwood to claim The Vale, and Darkmoor wants Lord Gerold to run the show. I don’t even know how this war is going to work so&nbsp;I think I’ll just sit it out, thank you.</p><p>I can’t sit it out. The moment the war kicks off, the&nbsp;army from&nbsp;Coldwater Burn marches to straight over to&nbsp;Pebble and starts sacking the castle&nbsp;again.</p><h2>Mercs and Jerks</h2><p>I don’t even&nbsp;know why I'm being invaded this time.&nbsp;Coldwater Burn doesn’t have a claim, as far as I know. Lord Branston&nbsp;even has a positive opinion of me. Maybe he’s just as confused as I am by all of this&nbsp;and is just attacking the closest target. Well, time to take out another loan and hire some mercs, since&nbsp;I only have 81 soldiers in Wycliffe, and the few I can raise from Midlor Point and Sunset Keep would&nbsp;have to march through hostile country to get here. I’m so troubled by this new war I immediately become pregnant again.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/d-rWrdQMTaO4.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WTHV1gFKSzui.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Checkers"></p><p>With the help of my sellswords, I chase the Coldwater troops out of Pebble and then Wycliffe. I briefly consider sacking Coldwater Burn itself, but even with the mercs I’m not sure I’ll have enough soldiers to manage it. Besides, despite being a jerk, Branston has a lot of allies. I watch his soldiers rush over to&nbsp;Bite Coast, then disband my levies, dismiss my mercs, and hope Branston doesn’t decide to come back.</p><p>Now an army from The Sisters islands is heading my way, though they're only 160 strong. I hire 345 Dornish Spearmen to stand behind my 49 men and look menacing. The Sisters army comically turns and begins marching in the opposite direction.&nbsp;Even when they team up with Branston’s men, I still outnumber them.</p><p>It’s been months of me paying a bunch of mercs to stand in Wycliffe like some really expensive bouncers. Crab’s Shore is now fighting The Sisters Army in Coldwater Burn. When they defeat them, they move to Bite Coast, drop off a small detachment to sack it, then storm into Wycliffe, 715 of them. Flush with new&nbsp;tax money, I hurriedly hire more mercs. The fighting begins again.</p><p>Daisy turns 30 and gives birth to a daughter, Nondonna. There’s been nonstop war for 15 years. And it's not anywhere close to ending.</p> Battlefield 4's big Spring patch arriving on Tuesdayhttp://www.pcgamer.com/battlefield-4s-big-spring-patch-arriving-on-tuesday/It's still technically Spring, I guess.Sun, 24 May 2015 16:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/battlefield-4s-big-spring-patch-arriving-on-tuesday/Battlefield 4DICEFPSNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xrTvAv-1TKqL.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Fs0A5A2HYRcO.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Battlefield4"></p><p>Battlefield fans: are you still playing Battlefield 4, or have you shifted your attention to Visceral's&nbsp;Hardline? I ask because DICE aren't making it easy to decide, supporting their oldish&nbsp;B4 with big updates filled with guns and gun-related things. First came Winter&mdash;thanks to my man Ned Stark for the heads up&mdash;and soon comes the&nbsp;Spring update, which adds new weapons and an old mode&nbsp;and makes balance changes and all that jazz.</p><p>Phil&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/battlefield-4-spring-patch-brings-new-weapons-gun-master/" target="_blank">recently detailed</a> the upcoming patch, supplying all the salient information save the date of its arrival. Given that DICE hadn't told anyone yet, I suppose we can forgive him, but today we know the day and indeed the time that your copies of Battlefield 4 will be automagically updated.</p><p>On Tuesday the 26th of May (AKA three days away), B4's multiplayer will be taken offline for an hour while the game receives its Spring injection,&nbsp;<a href="http://battlelog.battlefield.com/bf4/news/view/spring-update-coming-may-26" target="_blank">DICE say</a>. That's going to happen at&nbsp;08.00 UTC / 08:00 GMT /&nbsp;1.00 AM PDT, so you might well be asleep or getting ready for work anyway. Once the patch goes live, DICE will release the patch notes, so we can see exactly how they've tinkered with the game.</p> F1 2015 delayed by a monthhttp://www.pcgamer.com/f1-2015-delayed-by-a-month/Codies' racer now out on July the21st.Sun, 24 May 2015 14:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/f1-2015-delayed-by-a-month/CodemastersF1 2015NewsRacing <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vHMbLvc8QZSM.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iAXXGBa3avGJ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F1 2015"></p><p>'Games That Are Out In June 2015' is a list that no longer includes F1 2015, which has just been delayed by around a month into the sunny, AAA wilderness that is July. July 21st, to be exact. How did developublishers&nbsp;Codemasters frame the delay announcement? By slipping the new date in alongside a very&nbsp;brief teaser trailer, and some boring stuff about "exclusive&nbsp;pre-order items".</p><p>Here's a whopping 12 seconds of game footage, surrounded by around 10 seconds of logos and some&nbsp;photoshopped&nbsp;faces of famous drivers:</p><iframe width="853" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3feDjjt86gk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>We gave F1 2014 a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/f1-2014-review/" target="_blank">big fat ehhhhh</a>, or "67%" in terms Metacritic could understand.</p> Helghast invade Half-Life 2 with Killzone modhttp://www.pcgamer.com/helghast-invade-half-life-2-with-killzone-mod/One mission from the Playstation shooter series has been modded into HL2.Sun, 24 May 2015 09:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/helghast-invade-half-life-2-with-killzone-mod/FPSHalf-Life 2Mod of the WeekMods <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gpSLhSURQcWF.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/AC6yfPorUalB.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Killzone Mod"></p><p>I've never played the Killzone games, owing to the fact that I don't possess the precise living room box required, but now at least I've gotten a taste of the Helghast.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.moddb.com/mods/killzone-source">Killzone Source</a> doesn't recreate an entire Killzone game in HL2, but provides&nbsp;a particular mission called Strange Company.</p><p>It represents several years of work by Moddb member zombiegames, and while I can't personally vouch for its representation of Killzone, it's pretty cool and looks great. With an AI companion, you fight your way through the interiors of a multi-floor building, battling Helghast at every turn, then proceed outside for more gunplay. You can carry a pistol and one of several rifles, use frag grenades, and are also armed with a knife. The Helghast look great, and I don't know if this is true of the original game, but they scream entertainingly when they die. Every time. I couldn't get enough of it.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gAlKAn4YQ0KK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tk2RefrPKlNr.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Killzone Mod"></p><p>They're tough as hell, too. Even on normal difficulty&nbsp;they killed me repeatedly. I had to disable AI using the Source console just to get close enough to them to take their pictures. At one point a dropship appeared over a shattered courtyard and they rappelled down on ropes in front of me. They're also pretty good at using grenades.</p><p>My AI companion was a little worthless in a fight, but she's still cool to hang out with. While I was remapping my keys (the default keybindings are a little odd) she helped herself to a soda from a vending machine.&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qEDR-Q1uQUy4.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iVtLgm812QNF.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Killzone Mod"></p><p>The guns are fun to use, and plenty challenging due to recoil, and the maps are dressed with various bits of detail like Helghast propaganda. There are some other touches, like flying enemy drone&nbsp;that I presume has roots in the original game.</p><p>To play, you just need a Steam account and to have the opt-in beta of Source SDK Base 2013 Singleplayer installed. For the beta,&nbsp;right-click the SDK base on Steam,&nbsp;select properties, open&nbsp;the Beta tab and choose '-upcoming' from the list. (You don't need to input a beta access code.)</p><p>As for the mod itself,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.moddb.com/mods/killzone-source">here's its page on Moddb</a>. If you've tried it, and you have experience with the Killzone games, I'd love to hear if you think it's a faithful recreation of the mission.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/IQhcq6enRlSv.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0OBnOKkXsfFD.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Killzone Mod"></p> Face off: Is it reasonable to expect a game to live up to early footage?http://www.pcgamer.com/face-off-is-it-reasonable-to-expect-a-game-to-live-up-to-early-footage/Wes and Chris argue over how reasonable it is to expect a finished game to resemble early previews.Sat, 23 May 2015 17:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/face-off-is-it-reasonable-to-expect-a-game-to-live-up-to-early-footage/Face OffRPGThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0HjUb7s2TWWD.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/t4T4uTGnk0GM.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 3 witches" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p><em>In <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/face-off/">Face Off</a></em><em>, PC Gamer writers go head to head over an issue affecting PC gaming. Today, Wes and Chris argue whether we should expect games to live up to early trailers and screenshots.</em></p><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">FACE OFF</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/pkpALdGdRC6B.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/4RokaWky7QdT.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Wes Fenlon"></p><p><strong>Wes Fenlon,&nbsp;hardware editor</strong><br>Wes thinks early promotional materials often don't look like the finished game, and we should expect that.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PKJgKTEJTHiI.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_KlM4pjCzWcM.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Chris Livingston fake Headshot png"></p><p><strong>Chris Livingston, staff writer</strong><br>Chris thinks if developers make big changes, they should do more to let us know before we buy.</p></div><p><strong>Chris Livingston: YES. Games change while they’re being made, but if they’ve changed appreciably from the early look we were given, the developer needs to let us know.</strong> Features, functions, and yes, even visuals, are bound to change during a game’s development, and I think we all know that. But if a developer has released early gameplay footage and images, and they’re not representative of the finished game, they need to do something to make us aware of that. When it comes to how a game looks&mdash;and I’m talking about The Witcher 3&mdash;it’s even reasonable to assume it will look better than it did early on. If it looks worse, devs have a responsibility to say “Hey, remember that pretty thing we showed you a while back? We tried real hard to make that, but it’s not what you’re getting.”</p><p><strong>Wes Fenlon: NO.The freedom to iterate on and even drastically change a game is a key part of the creative process, and devs shouldn’t have to justify each and every change they make.</strong> I agree with you on one thing up front, though: misrepresenting games through early promotional materials, like trailers claiming that something is “in game footage,” really sucks. It’s not necessarily a lie&mdash;in the case of The Witcher 3, I believe there was a version of that game that looked like it did, but it wasn’t capable of rendering a full open world. But developers and publishers shouldn’t be showing a game off two years ahead of release and setting unrealistic expectations. Because they know the truth: the development of a game is always going to leave features, graphical effects, plot points, and more on the cutting room floor. Because sometimes things just don’t work, or they’re not achievable by a deadline, and cutting those things is a natural part of the process. It’s why great games can be lean and focused instead of bloated and directionless. Developers need the freedom to make those changes.</p><p><strong>Chris</strong>: Look, I think it’s ridiculous to buy a game based on promotional footage from several years ago, and I even doubt many people do that. At the same time, the first images from an early gameplay trailer are going to stick with people for a long time. I loved that first gameplay trailer for The Division, and I’m going to be disappointed nine years from now if the game comes out and doesn’t give me that experience I first saw. Early Half-Life 2 footage showed a crazy water tentacle monster impaling a Combine soldier. The tentacle was cut from the game, but it’s still in my head. I remember the first gameplay trailer for Bioshock Infinite, and that wound up being very little like the final version of the game. It was an infinite bummer.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uH9fBCzHQaK7.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zKs2oqACscwA.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="HL2 Hyrda"></p><p><strong>Wes</strong>: Again, I agree it’s probably a bad idea to show off a game when there’s years of iteration left to be done. But at the same time, I also treasure the archeology of looking back at things that didn’t make it into a game. Sometimes it’s wondering how awesome that feature would’ve been, or trying to figure out why it was cut. But I think the way many gamers look at “cut” content is incorrect. They feel like something that was in the game or <em>should have</em> been in the game was removed, taken away, and that that’s a bad thing. But we’ve not privy to any of the internal discussions around those features or the way they were integrated into the game as a whole. </p><p>What if that tentacle monster in Half-Life 2 worked in that one scene, but its AI was a nightmare that just never worked right? What if devs designed a really cool level, but a great change to the plot of the game during development rendered it obsolete? What if the original lighting in Dark Souls 2, which many gamers are still angry about, was actually terrible for gameplay? It’s okay to say “Aw man, what if” about these features, but I think more often than not, they’re cut for the better.</p><p><strong>Chris</strong>: From what I recall, Valve said the water tentacle just wasn’t any fun to fight, and I’m not saying they should have kept it simply because they showed it. Devs should make the best game possible and that will always entail throwing away stuff that initially seemed like a good idea but didn’t work out. I think “Aw, man” is a natural reaction, and I think a lot of people are having it about The Witcher 3, though perhaps with more expletives than strictly necessary. It boils down to: “You showed me a thing, I wanted that thing, but I didn’t get that thing.” I wouldn’t expect Valve to hold a press conference to announce the water tentacle had been deep-sixed, but maybe CDPR could have done something to point out the game didn’t look as good as originally advertised before they took pre-orders? It’s not a fun thing for a dev to admit, I’m sure, but PC gamers love sweet graphics. CDPR should have anticipated there would be a certain amount of disappointment.</p><p><strong>Wes</strong>: Yeah, you’re right about that. I don’t think we should expect a game to live up to early footage for a lot of reasons we’ve already touched on: the creative freedom necessary to cut things that aren’t working, the ability to optimize and adapt to new technology and challenges...but we should expect, or demand, that promotional materials be up front about progress during development. Marketers are always going to do their best to put a positive spin on things, but trying to sweep an issue under the rug never works. Once something like a trailer has been put online, it’s there forever, and people <em>will</em> notice if you try to take it down or alter it. Of course CD Projekt wasn’t going to come out and say “Hey, our game’s uglier now.” But they could’ve written an in-depth technical explanation of how the game engine performed back in 2013 vs. now, what changed, and why. I’m sure a few people would still be mad, but I think a lot of people, myself included, would find it fascinating. We rarely get insight into the specifics of how a game is changed during development.</p><p><strong>Chris</strong>: Yeah! I think even a little bit of information and explanation would go a long way. No one likes feeling hoodwinked, and while some are a little quick to fly off the handle I think most people are pretty understanding and just want to know what they’re paying for before they buy it. On the other hand, a lot of complaints came from people who had pre-ordered, and pre-ordering games is&hellip; well, we probably both have opinions on pre-orders, but that’s a Face Off for another time.</p><p><strong>Wes</strong>: Seriously. The best justification for a pre-order is to save some bucks, but these days games go on sale so quickly (and so often), there's not much reason to buy until you know what you're getting. I hope the controversy around The Witcher 3's graphics convinces publishers to be more upfront in the future, but I also hope that it doesn't discourage them from being creative with their advertising. A good trailer can mislead you about a game's narrative, and the surprise when you play the real thing can be great. Savvy movie trailers do this all the time. Halo 2's first level ended with an awesome scene with a completely different context than was originally shown. If a game is going to have an exhaustive, two-year advertising campaign, I hope developers start to put out more creative trailers that allow us to still feel surprised when we pick up a game.&nbsp;</p> The best videos of the weekhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-videos-of-the-week/Geralt's dad jokes.Sat, 23 May 2015 16:30:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-videos-of-the-week/ActionSingle-playerThe Witcher 3: Wild HuntUnreal Tournament <p>Are you playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt? I hear <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-review/">that game is okay</a>. If you're not, there are a couple of video below that might get you in the mood.</p><p>Geralt of Rivia is proficient in the dark art of dad jokes.</p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/yVG1jDdKkrI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Hot Pockets is taking shots at the future of virtual reality gaming. I never thought I'd say this, but I think I agree with Hot Pockets on this one.</p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/8TROBbOmbc8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Speaking of virtual reality, Arizona Sunshine is one of the few announced games for the HTC Vive headset, which uses Steam VR.</p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/uEnUIGiPeOU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Undead Labs, developer of State of Decay, is making a Pokemon-like game for PC, and it's coming to Steam Early Access very soon.</p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/mcpdbP763IQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>This rare early build of the first Witcher game shows just how far the series has come.</p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/vMmFiQp3Q_4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Just in case you haven't checked in with the new Unreal Tournament in awhile, it's coming along nicely.</p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/N6mzMpOmXoA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> Free games of the weekhttp://www.pcgamer.com/free-games-of-the-week/Does something count as 'empty' if it's full of ghosts?Sat, 23 May 2015 14:10:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/free-games-of-the-week/browser gamesFree GamesIndieThe Best Free Games of the Week <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Xw1RdukUSWG1.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7OhidXIcgHV-.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Abyssinia 2"></p><p>Empty inns are just the <em>worst</em>, not least because you can't&nbsp;check in, and not leaster because&nbsp;there's no one around&nbsp;to make you breakfast in the morning. They're also full of ghosts&mdash;in one of this week's free&nbsp;games at least. You should also prepare yourself for&nbsp;aliens, cyborgs, deep&nbsp;deepest space, and an annoying moggie waking you up in the middle of the night. Enjoy!</p><h3><a href="http://candlelight-studios.itch.io/the-empty-inn" target="_blank">The Empty Inn by Candlelight Studios</a></h3><iframe width="347" height="280" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/d3qrgr8eelI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>It's not particularly scary, but it is a bit tense, this game of exploring a haunted inn armed only with a rapidly dwindling lamp. When the lamp begins to fade, the ghosts come out to play, and they'll kill you if you find yourself caught in their spectral beams. You'll need to find fuel, keys, and solve little puzzles to survive the night in this ghost-infested B&amp;B. (Alternatively, there's a Travelodge just&nbsp;down the road.)</p><h3><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/puzzle/invader-crush/67838/" target="_blank">Invader Crush by Twoplus Games</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_qMpR7qeQZGG.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/lPUguDZmusYN.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Invader Crush"></p><p>Developer Steven Tu describes Invader Crush as a&nbsp;“turn-based roguelike puzzle shooter”, but it's basically a very slow Space Invaders meets Puzzle Bobble. Shoot colour-coded bullets to destroy baddies of a similar hue, as they inexorably descend upon your ship. There are two modes: one that asks you to destroy a specific unit to ascend to the next level, and one that wants you to eliminate specific numbers of aliens. The second one feels the best, at least to me, but whichever way you play, you're in for a considered arcade treat.</p><h3><a href="http://grey2scale.itch.io/garbage-cat" target="_blank">My Garbage Cat Wakes Me Up At 3AM Every Day by Will Herring</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iW1OwS7mRaKF.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NWN6YxckpIys.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Garbage Cat"></p><p>If Catlateral Damage was on the GameBoy, it would look a lot like this. Seemingly inspired by the nocturnal adventures of <em>my</em> oft-annoying moggie, the cruel-but-not-inaccurately named My Garbage Cat Wakes Me Up At 3AM Every Day puts you in the shoe...well, the paws of a destructive jerk cat. Wake your owner up by smashing all of&nbsp;his possessions&mdash;or by standing on his pillow and making noises until he's wrenched from his peaceful slumber.</p><h3><a href="http://ryantrawick.itch.io/abyssinia" target="_blank">Abyssinia by Ryan Trawick</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/XILz9pZ8Q_6k.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gLpt_LA39V1K.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Abyssinia"></p><p>Explore an initially gloomy spaceship&mdash;if you can see&nbsp;where your bedroom door is&mdash;in Ryan Trawick's enjoyable mix of first-person wandering/chatting, and tactile music-making in a cockpit. Conduct an electronic symphony (and the accompanying light show) from your low-poly captain's chair, in this odd, refreshingly nice slice of deep-space science fiction.</p><h3><a href="http://www.thd.vg/butcher" target="_blank">Butcher by Transhuman Design</a></h3><iframe width="830" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_ET7VMkM1YA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>A prototype of a very Doomy, Quakey sidescrolling shooter that's been to the blood bank to stock up on sloshy claret. The guns feel great, the pixel art is gorgeous, the soundtrack is suitably rocking, and the jumping feels a little floaty and weird&mdash;but the devs have time to work on that. Three levels of unashamedly gory, old-fashioned shooting await you here, in the next game from Transhuman Design&mdash;AKA them what made King Arthur's Gold.</p> Tropico 5's sneaky espionage add-on out next weekhttp://www.pcgamer.com/tropico-5s-sneaky-espionage-add-on-out-next-week/Keep it under your hat.Sat, 23 May 2015 14:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/tropico-5s-sneaky-espionage-add-on-out-next-week/Haemimont GamesKalypso MediaNewssimTropico 5 <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/98PxnHmmQtec.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/4kiq-SgY3rxX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Tropico 5 Espionage"></p><p>Phil 'El Presidente' Savage liked Tropico 5&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/tropico-5-review/" target="_blank">a fair amount</a> when it emerged&nbsp;last year, and it's been (optionally) bolstered a lot since then with quite a bit of DLC. The latest, Espionage, comes out next Thursday, adding a punny new campaign called The Maltese Toucan. It's spy themed! So of course it adds a tuxedo, spy hat, and other secret agenty&nbsp;stuff as well.</p><p>Here's publisher Kalypso on the contents of the surreptitious&nbsp;Espionage:</p><p>"Espionage' features the all new campaign 'The Maltese Toucan', a thrilling new adventure wherein Tropico’s precious treasures need to be protected against foreign agents at all costs. Only you, as El Presidente, can keep Tropico safe from enemy spies and foreign powers that might try to steal your island’s best kept secrets for their own gain.</p><p>"Protect Tropico’s borders and reveal enemy agents by installing Security Checkpoints and throwing them in the island’s new Dungeon. Train your own spies in the new Spy Academy and send them off to steal foreign capital or top secret technology from your enemies. Foil attacks on your beautiful island paradise by building the Ministry Of Information and monitor your citizens according to the strict Tropican data privacy laws. For additional air security you can call on the new Police Blimp, and for serious military scenarios you will be equipped with some new toys: the Mechanized Garrison is battle seasoned and ready for any state of emergency!</p><p>"Spanning six missions, you can expect manipulation, revolts and acts of sabotage as you use all the resources at your disposal to protect your island from the outside powers trying to move in. Will your drink be 'shaken or stirred' at the end of this thrilling spy tale?"</p><p>That last line&nbsp;means <em>literally nothing</em> in that context, but hey ho.</p><p>So: May 28th. Six new missions. A nontet of&nbsp;spy/military themed buildings. A bunch of new avatar stuff, sandbox events and a little more.</p> Serpent in the Staglands trailer prepares us for next week's launchhttp://www.pcgamer.com/serpent-in-the-staglands-trailer-prepares-us-for-next-weeks-launch/Darklands-inspired cRPG out Thursday the28th.Sat, 23 May 2015 13:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/serpent-in-the-staglands-trailer-prepares-us-for-next-weeks-launch/NewsRPGSerpent in the Staglands <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/XnKkt1EjRgeh.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zZyKMU_Pz5LH.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Serpent in the Staglands"></p><p><a href="http://serpentinthestaglands.com" target="_blank">Serpent in the Staglands</a> is a new real-time-with-pause RPG that should remind you of things like Darklands and Baldur's Gate. It's out on Thursday, and it looks rather brill, or at least as brill as we can discern from screenshots and videos. A new one of the latter things&nbsp;appeared a few days ago in the form of a 'launch' trailer, showing what we'll get up to as a god stuck in a mortal body in a Transylvanian fantasy landscape obsessed with spices.&nbsp;Here it is:</p><iframe width="640" height="390" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zmjZYIndaCA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>"Oooh" is the word you're looking for. There's quite a lot of RPG going around at the moment, but Staglands should complement the likes of Pillars of Eternity and The Witcher 3 fairly nicely, offering a more gothic and unusual fantasy world to explore, in a game that appears to be equal parts roleplaying and adventure game (or at least with a higher ratio of the latter element than the norm). You'll be able to buy it from the official&nbsp;site, or&nbsp;<a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/335120/" target="_blank">from Steam</a>, the Humble Store or GOG.com, though it's not live on the last two stores yet.</p> The week's highs and lows in PC gaminghttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-weeks-highs-and-lows-in-pc-gaming_may22_2015/Each week the PC Gamer team projects its opinions onto the moon using an elaborate system of satellites and hand puppetry.Fri, 22 May 2015 22:46:17 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-weeks-highs-and-lows-in-pc-gaming_may22_2015/highs and lows <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PNCCCeCfTPqt.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2r7zWhMqNQTF.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Tracer Overwatch cropped" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p><strong>THE HIGHS</strong></p><p><strong>Phil Savage: Watching Overwatch<br></strong>It's been a long time since I was last obsessed with a multiplayer shooter. In recent years, only Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and TF2 have kept me entertained for more than a couple of weeks. If any upcoming game has a chance, though, it's Overwatch. Over the last week-and-a-bit, Blizzard has been releasing unedited footage of its FPS heroes, and I'm already impressed by the kaleidoscopic chaos on show. Each hero not only attacks differently, but moves differently. <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch-footage-shows-mercy/">Mercy</a>, the medic, can fly&mdash;but only towards other teammates. <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/new-overwatch-footage-shows-hanzo-in-action/">Hanzo</a>, the archer, can clamber up walls to easily reach higher terrain.</p><p>This all looks immensely satisfying, and I can already see how important positioning, movement and cooperation are going to be. Despite the inherent quality of their games, I've never previously fallen to Blizzard's charms. I've been resistant to Diablo, Starcraft and even WoW. If Overwatch can deliver on the promise evident in these early videos, they may finally have me in their grasp.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Tyler Wilde: Pretty ponies<br></strong>Earlier this week, we noticed that our publishing calendar looked a bit sparse for today. To that, Chris Livingston said, “Why is Pony World 3 listed under survival on Steam?” I defy anyone who says we didn’t <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fighting-for-survival-in-pony-world-3/">do our jobs</a> this week.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/agx6MQtzRZWM.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/dmlTPJRcPlKu.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Galactic Civilizations 3 Slide"></p><p><strong>Tom Senior: GalCiv returns<br></strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/galactic-civilizations-3-review/">Galactic Civilizations 3 is good</a>! As Richard points out, Galactic Civilizations does a great job of making your AI opponents feel like agents rather than algorithms, which means a lot when you’re spending hundreds of hours dealing with them. I always especially appreciate the “fluff” in a grand strategy game&mdash;the little scraps of flavour text, the moral dilemmas and the dialogue that give the universe flavour, even the UI design. GalCiv 3 is a detailed and solid simulation of a huge scenario, but that’d be empty and meaningless without the grumpy Drengin, who are so rude and eager to conquer that they can actually be used. I always let my opponents settle on planets near Drengin borders. They serve as a useful safety buffer when the Drengin military starts to mobilise, and by then I’ll have some lovely big lasers researched, built, and ready to vapourise.</p><p><strong>Samuel Roberts: VR films and TV</strong><br>I’ve been in Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment. Well, at the very least, an oddly spectacular recreation of it in the Oculus Rift. This week Andy rounded up a bunch of awesome tech demos that let you explore <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/exploring-films-and-tv-in-vr/">TV and film worlds in VR</a>, not all of which require the Rift to experience. It underlines the fact that you don’t need to rely on traditional forms of videogame interaction (shooting, driving, punching. Though I like all of those things) to have something feel amazing in VR. A sense of place will do that just fine, hence why last year’s Alien: Isolation VR demos were so effective at selling that game’s detailed art direction.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/r8zYjZbpRHyM.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bUC-WvzHjQ8s.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Cities Skylines Slide"></p><p><strong>Chris Livingston: Cars, Too<br></strong>The first official batch of <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/cities-skylines-patch-brings-european-style-buildings/">free content arrived for Cities: Skylines</a> this week, as promised. While there are also paid expansions on the horizon (and judging by <a href="http://store.steampowered.com/sub/52397/">Paradox Interactive's track record, possibly tons of them</a>), it's still great (and sort of rare?) to see new DLC appear without a price tag attached to it.</p><p>In addition to the ability to create tunnels and add European buildings to freshen up your cities, the patch also continues the Skylines tradition of mod support by allowing for custom vehicles. I'm already drooling over some of the custom cars, trucks, and planes <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/workshop/browse/?appid=255710&amp;requiredtags[]=Vehicle">in the vehicle Workshop</a>, especially this <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=445922731">completely adorable 1959 Morris Mini</a>. It honestly looks a bit more like a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DAF_600">DAF 600</a> than a Mini, but who cares? It's cute as hell and I want to see them all over my city, stuck behind hot dog trucks in bumper-to-bumper traffic.</p><p><strong>Tim Clark: Cheaters eat crow</strong><br>This week 30 thousand H1Z1 ne’er do wells felt the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/banned-h1z1-cheaters-may-be-allowed-back-if-they-publicly-apologise/">crack of the banhammer</a> at the base of their skulls. But&mdash;plot twist!&mdash;the bans didn’t have to be final, provided the cheaters apologised to their fellow players in a YouTube video. Thus far only five have been unbanned according to this follow up <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/h1z1/comments/36ne71/my_thoughts_on_the_public_apologies/">Reddit post</a> by Daybreak president John Smedley. Judging by the comments there and on our own article, some felt Smedley was on a power trip, but his explanation seems sound to me: “...doing the same thing we have been doing is a tough fight and I'd like to at least try something different.”</p><p>Cheating poisons the well of multiplayer games, and destabilises the competitive scene. People should be ashamed to cheat and they should be afraid of the consequences. You can make your own mind up over whether public contrition is a more effective tool than removing access, but Smedley’s surely correct to try a new approach.&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Jv_arWnKQce9.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uqNEJ-O08IlR.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher3 2015-05-21 11-08-11-44" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p><strong>THE LOWS</strong></p><p><strong>Tom Senior: Downgradegate</strong><br>I have sympathy with players this week who have compared current screenshots of The Witcher 3 with years-old screenshots and video demos, and feel disappointed. That’s mostly because those materials are used to sell pre-orders, and players who don't care about the ins-and-outs of game development will understandably think that those materials are representative of the final product. Marketers love that assumption, and offer only the tiniest indications to the contrary. That’s why we see technical phrases like "target footage" and "in-engine demo" used, when the truth is: "in an ideal world our game will look like this in two years maybe".</p><p>Graphical changes are an unavoidable part of game development. Developers work hard in the run up to conferences and press showings to produce playable, relatively complete sections of a project that's still very unfinished. In my experience these are created with the honest hope and expectation that the final game will be of similar quality. However, no-one can predict where graphics drivers will be in two years, or where PC hardware will be. A billion unforeseeable problems can pop up and limit the scope of the original vision. Making games is hard.</p><p>I think The Witcher 3 is great, and taken on its own merits, still happens to be the best-looking RPG ever. The takeaways from this week's controversy aren't new. We've been here with Watch Dogs, I think we'll be here again if The Division ever comes out. Still, it's worth repeating: apply healthy cynicism before pre-ordering anything (pre-order discounts are often still available hours before release), and don't take E3 footage at face value when the game has years of development to go.</p><p><strong>Tim Clark: Rockstar deploys the lawyers</strong><br>I’d absolutely love to watch a faithful dramatisation of the making of Grand Theft Auto, and its subsequent controversies, but I struggle to see how <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/bbc-announces-tv-drama-about-the-making-of-gta/">this BBC adaptation</a> is going to be it. The obvious issue is that the book on which the show will be based, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Jacked-Outlaw-Story-Grand-Theft/dp/0470936371">Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto</a> by David Kushner, struggled for access to many of the key people involved. No real surprise, given Rockstar’s omertà-like approach to corporate secrecy. A pity, given that Kushner did get great access for his <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0812972155/?tag=googhydr-20&amp;hvadid=36300014739&amp;hvpos=1t1&amp;hvexid=&amp;hvnetw=g&amp;hvrand=2646591905577398241&amp;hvpone=11.39&amp;hvptwo=&amp;hvqmt=b&amp;hvdev=c&amp;ref=pd_sl_1hf9dwz416_b">Masters of Doom</a> book, as John Carmack confirmed in <a href="https://twitter.com/ID_AA_Carmack/status/601387308437344257">this Twitter exchange</a>. I’m not sure <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/rockstar-files-suit-against-bbc-over-upcoming-drama/">Rockstar’s decision to wheel out the lawyers</a> is the right response, but equally I don’t think I’ll be bothering to watch the Beeb’s GTA thing either. Though, if they wanted to take the fictionalised approach, I reckon David Peace could’ve done an amazing job. His incredible stream-of-consciousness approach to Brian Clough in The Damned Utd might have been fascinating applied to the Housers.<img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bDv_RAN8Qfqy.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/SPlZiHrkXpIS.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Doom Slide" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p><strong>Chris Livingston: Doom Wads</strong><br>Some pretty disappointing Doom releases this week, huh? An <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/its-three-seconds-of-doom-footage/">absurd teaser for the upcoming Doom</a> that, despite only showing three seconds of footage, still manages to look kind of crummy. We also got some <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/this-is-what-doom-4-could-have-looked-like-apparently/">images and footage reportedly from the scrapped version of Doom 4</a>, which looks like some kind of unimaginative Gears of War fan fiction film.</p><p>At least we can have fun speculating. For a detailed analysis of the new Doom 'teaser', see <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/an-analysis-of-the-three-second-doom-teaser/">Tyler's excellent and insightful deconstruction of all three seconds of it</a>. As far as the Doom 4 footage, it's sort of like when you hear that Christopher Walken auditioned for the role of Han Solo in Star Wars or that Dustin Hoffman was considered for the part of Deckard in Blade Runner. It sort of makes you cringe in horror, but doesn't part of you wish you could visit an alternate dimension and see the bizarre finished product?</p><p><strong>Samuel Roberts: Need For Story</strong><br>A year off was probably good for the Need For Speed series. This week EA announced a reboot of the arcade driving game, describing it as a “nocturnal open world street racer”, and revealing a collaboration with Speedhunters, a company I will pretend I’m cool enough to know about, in order to authentically capture street racing culture (is that definitely a thing? In the UK it’s middle class teenagers racing Peugeot 206s around a supermarket car park). Anyway, none of that constitutes my low of the week. I’ve liked the series in recent times, particularly Criterion’s efforts.</p><p>The part that made me pull an Alan Partridge face was the suggestion that there’ll be an ‘immersive narrative’ as part of this. I can’t recall a driving game where I’ve ever really played it for the story. Maybe the success of the Fast and Furious series has made EA believe there’s potential in this, but I’m not convinced anyone’s really invested in Need For Speed because they love a good yarn.&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/yIkRqczlQEyf.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Swo4z1mezsIB.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="RBI Baseball Slide"></p><p><strong>Tyler Wilde: I want to play baseball on my personal computer</strong><br>I really enjoyed <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/rbi-baseball-2015-review/">Chris’ review of R.B.I. Baseball 2015</a> (I have a crush on Chris this week). He didn’t enjoy the game so much, but we all got to enjoy writing puns for the little red box of text that appears above the headline. Average batting. Errors. Major fatigue. A league of their groan. And my favorite from Chris, simply “balls.”</p><p>Anyway, the reason this is my low&mdash;and I know I’ve already griped about it here&mdash;is that there are so few good, modern sports games on PC. It sucks! 10-or-so years ago publishers started to view consoles as the primary, and then only, market for sports games. And true enough, I bet that made perfect sense at the time. But maybe it’s time for them to come back?</p><p>Hopefully even mediocre games like this one will prove there’s a hunger for sports on PC. I’m not saying to go buy R.B.I. Baseball just to encourage other publishers, to be clear&hellip; just think about buying it, hover over the button, and then go do something else. They’ll know.</p><p><strong>Phil Savage: Losing track</strong><br>This week I'm not going to bemoan any specific event or larger trend in the industry. Rather, I'm going to ask for help in fixing my own incompetence. Y'see, digital distribution is pretty great. At any moment of the day, from almost any location, I can choose to download and play Little Big Adventure 2. That's a pretty good state of affairs. It's also&mdash;if you're me&mdash;a pretty confusing one. I'm losing track of what I own. Sometimes I catch myself, like this week, when&mdash;spurred on by our <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/15-overlooked-rpgs-that-are-worth-playing-today/">overlooked RPGs list</a>&mdash;I narrowly avoided buying a second copy of Arx Fatalis. Other times? I just hope there's a limit on the number of times I can accidentally buy Supreme Commander.</p><p>The other problem with forgetting I own a game is I don't play it, which, despite what Steam sales would have us believe, is the reason we buy games in the first place. Basically, I'm in need of a system. Some site, spreadsheet or database that can help me keep track of my collection. And so I turn to you. What's the best way you've found to catalogue what you own? (That is, beyond not being a forgetful clutz.)</p> Blizzard confirms mounted flight won't be added to Warlords of Draenorhttp://www.pcgamer.com/blizzard-confirms-mounted-flight-wont-be-added-to-warlords-of-draenor/Lead designer Ion Hazzikostas says the ability to fly is unlikely to return in future expansions.Fri, 22 May 2015 22:30:09 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/blizzard-confirms-mounted-flight-wont-be-added-to-warlords-of-draenor/BlizzardMMONewsWorld of Warcraft <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YTdLWQEKQIOW.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hoBosHZjcTZi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="World of Warcraft flying mount"></p><p>If you were disappointed to learn that you wouldn't be able to take your flying mount for a ride in the new <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/world-of-warcraft/">World of Warcraft</a> zones introduced in the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/warlords-of-draenor/">Warlords of Draenor</a> expansion, <a href="http://www.polygon.com/2015/5/22/8645293/world-of-warcraft-no-flying-tanaan-jungle-warlords-of-draenor-mmo-pc-blizzard">Polygon's</a> recent interview with lead designer Ion Hazzikostas will do nothing to&nbsp;improve your mood. He said Blizzard had initially planned to enable flying in the expansion, but eventually decided that it played better without it.</p><p>"Having looked at how flying has played out in the old world in the last couple of expansions, we realized that while we were doing it out of this ingrained habit after we introduced flying in The Burning Crusade, it actually detracted from gameplay in a whole lot of ways," Hazzikostas said. "While there was certainly convenience in being able to completely explore the world in three dimensions, that also came at the expense of gameplay like targeted exploration, like trying to figure out what's in that cave on top of a hill and how do I get up there." </p><p>He cited the example of a quest to break a prisoner out of an enemy camp. Normally, players would have to fight their way through it, but with flight they could simply drop in, grab their guy, and split. Hazzikostas said it made the world feel "much smaller" in many ways, which is obviously the opposite of what Blizzard is trying to accomplish. And while it's possible that flight could return in future expansions, it doesn't sound likely. </p><p>"At this point, we feel that outdoor gameplay in World of Warcraft is ultimately better without flying," Hazzikostas said. "We're not going to be reintroducing the ability to fly in Draenor, and that's kind of where we're at going forward." </p><p>It's an unfortunate decision&mdash;flying is cool&mdash;but understandable from a design point of view. Bethesda elected to do the same thing with its Elder Scrolls RPG series following <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/morrowind/">Morrowind</a>, which contained a levitation spell that let players fly unaided. "[Levitate] was removed so we could design better gameplay spaces and scenarios," Game Director Todd Howard explained in a 2011 Skyrim <a href="http://forums.bethsoft.com/topic/1207390-skyrim-fan-interview/">fan interview</a>. "We were really limited in Morrowind because the player could recall or levitate out of many situations and break them. There was a lot of good gameplay and level design work that we just couldn’t do and now we can. Back then it seemed like many good ideas we had were shot down when another designer would say, 'Oh yeah, I just levitate or recall away.' So we got rid of them."</p> How Heroes of the Storm compares to LoL and Dota 2http://www.pcgamer.com/how-heroes-of-the-storm-compares-to-lol-and-dota-2/We breakdown exactly how Heroes of the Storm differs from MOBAs like LoL and Dota 2.Fri, 22 May 2015 21:48:24 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/how-heroes-of-the-storm-compares-to-lol-and-dota-2/BlizzardHeroes of the StormMOBA Fractured Space gets a major update for Mayhttp://www.pcgamer.com/fractured-space-gets-a-major-update-for-may/There's a new trailer, too.Fri, 22 May 2015 21:24:52 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/fractured-space-gets-a-major-update-for-may/Edge Case GamesFractured SpaceNewssim <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/oByrID28AFM?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> Edge Case Games has released a major update to <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fractured-space/">Fractured Space</a>, along with a new trailer that demonstrates how the game has evolved from the prototype stage to its current state, which looks just about ready for prime-time.</p><p> Fractured Space is a five-on-five game of capital ship combat in space, being developed by the team that created <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/strike-suit-zero/">Strike Suit Zero</a>, now working under the Edge Case name. It hit Early Access late <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fractured-space-hits-early-access-with-a-new-trailer/">last year</a> and has undergone several updates since, most recently the "<a href="http://steamcommunity.com/games/310380/announcements/detail/130947808315783440">biggy</a>" that went live on Steam yesterday.</p><p> Highlights of the update include two new ships, the Zarek Infiltrator and Zarek Carrier, 11 new crew members including Captain Jingles, plus ramming, remappable key binds, upgradeable systems, a strategic map, and multiple balance passes that affect point defense, jump abilities, and various aspects of individual ship types. Several bug fixes have also been made, as well as changes to the UI and server list messages.</p><p> Edge Case said the full breakdown of the update is literally too big to fit on Steam, so it posted the details <a href="https://www.fracturedspace.com/6-month-anniversary-update/">on its own blog</a> instead. A <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/games/310380/announcements/detail/130947808319362532">hotfix</a> released today tweaks things a bit with a handful of small changes, while a few other known issues, like buggy ramming damage, will be addressed in a future update. Fractured Space is currently expected to launch in full later this year.</p> The Talos Principle writer talks up "ambitious" new expansionhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-talos-principle-writer-talks-up-ambitious-new-expansion/Tom Jubert says Road to Gehenna will be out in the next month or so.Fri, 22 May 2015 19:52:16 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-talos-principle-writer-talks-up-ambitious-new-expansion/CroteamNewsPuzzleThe Talos PrincipleTom Jubert <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kzntpB-_Rm26.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RAPzGaMpcVp0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Talos Principle kitten"></p><p>Tom Jubert, one-half of the writing team behind the outstanding first-person puzzle game <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-talos-principle/">The Talos Principle</a>, has provided a little bit of insight into what's coming in the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-talos-principle-is-getting-an-expansion/">Road to Gehenna</a> expansion. He wasn't interested in repeating what had already been done, he wrote in a recent <a href="http://tom-jubert.blogspot.ca/2015/05/project-announcements-masterplan-talos.html">blog post</a>, so he and writing partner Jonas Kyratzes kicked around some ideas that would "expand on the original world without simply following in its footsteps."</p><p>Among the ideas pitched and discarded were setting the expansion in the distant past, when the Elohim system was still in development, or in the distant future, after it's been discovered by other beings; or putting it on a separate server with the same rules but different archive information, resulting in completely different versions of Elohim and Milton, the game's nagging voice of doubt and cynicism. </p><p>Jubert didn't offer any hints about what they and Croteam eventually settled on, but said it "provides us huge flexibility in terms of the sort and tone of material we deliver. It gives us a world that fits within the original game's religious and science fiction mythology, but which resolutely has its own identity. Most importantly for me, it lets us explore completely new ideas about how to interact with the game." He also described it as "ambitious," adding that the script is comparable in size to that of The Talos Principle itself.</p><p>"We have consciously designed [Road to Gehenna] to be experimental," he wrote. "We wanted to explore new ideas in a safe environment so that when we inevitably come to Talos 2 we will be able to raise our audience's expectations once again."</p><p>Jubert said the expansion is now undergoing "final bug-hunting," and will be out in the next month or so.</p> A horrifying tale of survival in Pony World 3http://www.pcgamer.com/fighting-for-survival-in-pony-world-3/Food. Health. Prettiness. They're all I have left. But not for long.Fri, 22 May 2015 19:30:07 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/fighting-for-survival-in-pony-world-3/DiaryGalleryPony World 3Survivalsurvival sim The best and worst BioWare companionshttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-and-worst-bioware-companions/Wedecided to ask the entire PC Gamer team who among the vast pantheon of BioWare NPCs they hate, and who they love.Fri, 22 May 2015 19:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-and-worst-bioware-companions/Baldur's GateBaldur's Gate 2Best ofBiowareCompanionsDragon AgeDragon Age 2FeatureFeaturedMass EffectMass Effect 2Mass Effect 3Miniature Giant Space HamsterStar Wars: Knights of the Old Republic This article was originally published on&nbsp;August 25, 2014, but to celebrate BioWare's 20th anniversary we're reminiscing again about the characters we love (and don't).&nbsp;Warning! The following article contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for the Mass Effect, Baldur's Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, and Dragon Age series.<br /> We've been reminiscing about our favourite, and least favourite, BioWare companions. Interesting buddies, and sometimes enemies, have been a staple of BioWare games since Baldur's Gate, and the studio is famous for creating people you actually care about. So I decided to ask the entire PC Gamer team who among the vast pantheon of BioWare NPCs they hate, and who they love. Some of the answers may surprise you. Especially Chris Thursten's.<br /> <br /> Andy Kelly<br /> <br /> Loves...<br /> <br /> Minsc (Baldur's Gate)<br /> <br /> One of BioWare's most beloved characters, Minsc is a massive, tattooed ranger who wields a two-handed sword and travels with his faithful companion, Boo, who he says is a 'miniature giant space hamster'&mdash;but is probably just a regular hamster. Minsc typifies that anarchic sense of humour that pervaded the Baldur's Gate games, and his eccentric battle cries (“Go for the eyes, Boo! GO FOR THE EYES!”) are the stuff of RPG legend.<br /> <br /> It wasn't until Baldur's Gate II, when BioWare realised just how much fans loved him, that his character was given more dialogue and depth. He became more sympathetic after the cruel death of his partner, Dynaheir, at the hands of evil sorcer Irenicus. Minsc is not as rich or nuanced as many of BioWare's more recent creations, but he makes up for it with sheer personality.<br /> <br /> Hates...<br /> <br /> Tali (Mass Effect)<br /> <br /> People love Tali, and I don't know why. She's just so goddamn earnest, telling endless, boring stories about the her pilgrimage, droning on and on about quarian tradition and how hard life on the flotilla is. The only interesting thing about her character is that she wears a mask, and even that's just a cheap way of making her seem mysterious.<br /> <br /> I genuinely cared about the majority of the cast in Mass Effect, but I avoided Tali at every opportunity. She has a loyal following, including former PC Gamer writer Rich McCormick, who replayed 25 hours of Mass Effect 3 just to prevent her death, but I really don't understand the love for her. One of the dullest characters in BioWare history.<br /> <br /> Chris Thursten<br /> <br /> Loves...<br /> <br /> Ashley Williams (Mass Effect)<br /> <br /> I know, I know. Ashley the space racist. Ashley who only survived Mass Effect 1 because she's not as boring as Kaidan. I've heard every argument against Ash in the last couple of years - often the same argument, over and over - but she's still one of my favourite BioWare characters. She's a rare example of a love interest for a male protagonist that doesn't really need anything from him. Ashley's background is defined by stable, positive relationships - with her sisters, her parents, her religion.<br /> <br /> Her motivating crisis is a smear on her family name that she's had to struggle with to get where she is in the Alliance military, a struggle that she's already largely overcome by the time she meets Shepard. It's a sore spot, but also a point of pride. In a series largely defined by people that Shepard 'fixes', Ashley demands to be understood on her own terms. I respect that. As for the space racism: well, yeah, she says some unfortunate things. But it's not who the character is. If you bring her with you when you encounter the Terra Firma rally on the Citadel, she'll angrily condemn their leader for using political pragmatism to disguise the racist element of his party. People tend to forget that about her.<br /> <br /> Hates...<br /> <br /> Sebastian Vael (Dragon Age)<br /> <br /> I struggled with this one, because there aren't really any BioWare characters I truly don't like. Jacob Taylor is boring, yeah, but his arc pays off in Mass Effect 3. I'm a bit tired of the 'quirky little sister' template (Imoen, Tali, Merrill) but all of those characters have their moments. So I'm picking Sebastian, the launch-day DLC character for Dragon Age II who more or less totally fails to get on with any of the other characters in the game. Despite its faults, DA II portrays its companions as a diverse but closely-knit circle of friends: a revolutionary cell that grows out of natural affections and affiliations.<br /> <br /> Sebastian, the Chantry-dwelling, revenge-chasing former dilettante doesn't fit into that family. He's too posh to slum it with Varric or Isabela, too straight-laced to indulge in the anger that motivates Anders or Fenris. He shows a bit of fire in the game's final act, but by that point I was too invested in<br /> <br /> literally everybody else<br /> <br /> to side with him. He's that guy you see in the hallway at work that you have nothing in common with but you feel obligated to talk to anyway; he's your friend's boring boyfriend from university; he's the person you invite to your house party while secretly hoping that they don't show up.<br /> <br /> Tom Senior<br /> <br /> Loves...<br /> <br /> Alistair (Dragon Age)<br /> <br /> Dragon Age is a very serious game. You're juggling issues of lineage that'll decide the fate of the entire realm with the threat of impending genocide at the hands of an ancient evil. A little laughter goes a long way, and Alistair shines as the self-aware bastard contender for the throne. A great comic vocal performance and a bottomless bucket of quips instantly earned him a permanent role in my party, but his capacity of sudden seriousness gave him an interesting edge. At heart he's a nervous hero forced into a position of remarkable pressure, which makes him enormously sympathetic, especially in the final act when the kingship is decided.<br /> <br /> The kicker is that he's probably not good King material. I ended up accidentally exiling him from the kingdom while attempting to put someone more decisive in place. The fact that I still feel bad about that shows how much I came to like the poor man. I hope he's running a thriving tavern somewhere, entertaining his regulars with some of the finest one-liners in Ferelden.<br /> <br /> Hates...<br /> <br /> Samara (Mass Effect)<br /> <br /> Samara has a fascinating backstory. She's been hunting one of her three vampire daughters across the universe for hundreds of years, and now enforces the pious rules of her order with lethal force. This is great for driving plot, especially when her laws clash with the local customs of the planet you're exploring, but her personality has been entirely subsumed by the code.<br /> <br /> Her outlook and actions are bound to a list of rules that she can never break, and she'll tell you that relentlessly during your observation deck chats during Mass Effect 2. She's a boring space paladin. You're interacting with dogma, rather than a person, which means there can be no evolution to your friendship with her. She could kill a dozen enemies in seconds with her mind, but ended up leaving her to her cross-legged meditation in the observation bay. I think we both preferred it that way.<br /> <br /> Samuel Roberts<br /> <br /> Loves...<br /> <br /> Varric (Dragon Age)<br /> <br /> Varric wins out for me because he's the closest your main character gets to an actual best buddy in a BioWare title (other than maybe Garrus in Mass Effect). He's just good to have around, and also has the interesting distinction of being one of Dragon Age II's narrators, so his perception of Hawke is oddly important to me as a player. I love that he frequently refers to his crossbow, Bianca, in third person a la Jayne's gun Vera in Firefly (but slightly less silly), and that he's technically spent years in Kirkwall's pub, The Hanged Man, by the end of Dragon Age II.<br /> <br /> Controversially, I think Dragon Age II might have my favourite set of companions&mdash;or possibly tying with Mass Effect 2. I must point out, though, that picking one BioWare companion I love is nearly impossible. I have a list of twelve names here that I'll spare you from, but the thought of Varric being around again in Inquisition is pretty exciting to me.<br /> <br /> Hates...<br /> <br /> James Vega (Mass Effect)<br /> <br /> James Vega is an easy target for least likeable BioWare companion – he's not that bad, and I wouldn't say I hate him by any stretch. I think it's because I got it into my head that he was a cipher for Call of Duty players picking up Mass Effect for the first time with the third instalment, and couldn't handle sci-fi unless they had a way in via standard soldier guy.<br /> <br /> That was a bit too harsh, and I think Freddie Prinze Jr does a fine job with the character's performance, but aside from beating him up in the shuttle bay of the Normandy, I can't recall enjoying his company that much. I just don't need someone being that grumpy on my Normandy. I would have put up a sign, politely asking that anybody trying to brood sexily on my ship has to get off at the next civilised star port. I've been saving the party sequence from the DLC Mass Effect 3: Citadel until I'm finally ready to say goodbye to Mass Effect, and I'm told Vega's attendance is mandatory. Aww.<br /> <br /> Phil Savage<br /> <br /> Loves...<br /> <br /> Garrus (Mass Effect)<br /> <br /> Characters my character has loved in BioWare games: Aerie, L'iara, Thane and Alistair. But the character<br /> <br /> I<br /> <br /> loved was never a romantic possibly. Well, technically he was in Mass Effect 3. What I mean to say is that he was never a romantic possibility for<br /> <br /> my<br /> <br /> Shepard. Like Sam with DA2's Varric, Garrus filled the role of best pal. By Mass Effect 2, he's reinvented himself in Shepard's image, and that leads to a common understanding between the two. He's got his shit together, even when he hasn't.<br /> <br /> Many have criticised Mass Effect 3's actual ending. The truth is it was a game filled with endings, and many of them were note perfect. Garrus's ending takes place before the final battle, shooting cans with Shepard at the top of the Citadel's Presidium. It's a scene laced with humour, rivalry, sadness and, yes, friendship. The best way to remember BioWare's best companion.<br /> <br /> Hates...<br /> <br /> Khalid (Baldur's Gate)<br /> <br /> Poor Khalid. You didn't really deserve to die every time I played Baldur's Gate. You were, I guess, fine. Adequate. Non-offensively present. My disdain for your life is really down to the way the first BG handled party members. Many of them were paired up&mdash;their inseparable buddy being a requirement to them joining your adventure.<br /> <br /> If you wanted Jaheira, you had to take Khalid, and, in a game filled with interesting characters and variables, I really didn't want to waste one of my five companion slots on the cowardly complaining of an effete fighter. And so you were sent to your certain death; one of the few ways you could part these pairings without pissing their partner off. It was an inelegant solution, but a necessary one. BioWare, it seems, agreed, and in Baldur's Gate 2 they removed such dependencies. They, like me, killed Khalid off.<br /> <br /> Ben Griffin<br /> <br /> Loves...<br /> <br /> Thane Krios (Mass Effect)<br /> <br /> Everything about Thane is fascinating. He's a Drell, a reptilian species rescued from their dying planet by the Hanar. Unfortunately Drell aren't suited to their new world's humidity, and many develop a respiratory disease called Kepral's Syndrome. Thane has it, and he agrees to Shepard's suicide mission as a gesture of penance. He's an assassin, you see, and thanks to his photographic memory&mdash;an adaptation to an environment where Drell must remember the location of resources across vast distances&mdash;Thane involuntarily relives his kills in vivid detail.<br /> <br /> This weighs heavily on his conscience, and it's not unusual to catch him praying in his private quarters. I never feel more badass than rocking up to the Citadel with Thane. I remember him once commenting on the 14 flaws in C-Sec security that a skilled assassin could exploit, and how “eight of them were there ten years ago.”<br /> <br /> Hates...<br /> <br /> Kaiden Alenko<br /> <br /> “Who? Ohhh yeah, that guy.” That's the reaction Kaidan Alenko usually garners, for me the only forgettable companion in the Mass Effect games. Just look at his boring face. In a galaxy featuring psychic purple jellies, bright blue seductresses, and monotone elephant men, here's this...dude. His backstory is dull&mdash;a biotic born into a military family&mdash;and his conversations with the captain are unremarkable. I guess he's just too similar to male Shepard, his role already served.<br /> <br /> I play Mass Effect to interact with strange new beings, not hobnob with brown-haired white guys. Literally everyone I work with is a brown-haired white guy. In the first Mass Effect he shares an interesting conflict with Ashley, her a pro-human xenophobe and him an equal rights advocate, and as Shepard you can persuade him to be either less or more sympathetic to alien races. It's an important subject to explore, but Kaiden feels superfluous to it. Ashley gets the job done.<br /> <br /> Tim Clark<br /> <br /> Loves...<br /> <br /> Liara T'Soni (Mass Effect)<br /> <br /> Lovely Liara. It's testament to the skill of BioWare's writers that she isn't reduced to just being the drippy, peace-loving, science-y one. I mean, she's all those things, but she's also more complex. Old by human standards, but a child in terms of Asari lifespan, she's naive and hopeful, but at the same time proud of her people and conflicted about her relationship with her mother.<br /> <br /> She wants the best for the universe but fears the worst. I ended up taking Liara on most missions, partly because I liked having an all-girl Charlies Angels-style squad, but also because her enthusiasm and curiosity invariably added nuance and emotion to the plot lines that was otherwise lost with the more workaday companions. Her arc, leading up the excellent Lair Of The Shadow Broker DLC, is also some of the most interesting stuff in the series. Damnit, Liara, it was always you. You made me want to be a better Shepard.<br /> <br /> Hates...<br /> <br /> Thane Krios (Mass Effect)<br /> <br /> Look, I wouldn't say I hate Thane – pity, maybe – it's more that I can't think about him without feeling the intense embarrassment that only comes with a truly disastrous one-night stand. After Liara was sidelined for Mass Effect 2 my Fem Shep couldn't be expected to live like a space nun, could she? So, reasoning that she was an experimental girl of the galaxy, I decided to bunk up with Thane. Largely to cheer him up because, hoo boy, badass assassins have rarely been more depressing.<br /> <br /> Whether it's moping over his dead wife, praying for forgiveness after whacking some schmuck, or musing on what a terrible dad he is, Thane is just a big green cloud of glum. (Bonus bad times: he's also slowly dying of Kepral's Syndrome, the specifics of which I forget and have no desire to Google.) After the sex he's awkwardly grateful. Which, honestly, is a sure sign you've made a terrible romantic mistake. Ugh.<br /> <br /> Evan Lahti<br /> <br /> Loves...<br /> <br /> HK-47 (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)<br /> <br /> For all the well-rounded, nonarchetypal, and sensitive characters BioWare has thrown at us, I delight in the silliest, most murderous, and one-dimensional partner they've written. HK-47 is more bloodthirsty than Jack or fellow assassin Thane, and most reliable source of bad advice in BioWare games.<br /> <br /> He's essentially a bad-ass, malicious one-liner dispenser ("Observation: We can begin by slaughtering the inhabitants of this building, master. Would that be impressive?"), but he also shows us a dark side of droids not seen in the Star Wars I grew up with--compared to the placative C-3PO, HK-47 shows zero concern for the needs of humans. The Star Wars wiki is a fine source of HK-47<br /> <br /> quotes<br /> <br /> , most of them containing “meatbag” as a perjorative.<br /> <br /> Hates...<br /> <br /> Miranda Lawson (Mass Effect)<br /> <br /> Miranda is the closest to furniture that a BioWare character has ever been. What do we remember about her, other than her skintight bodysuit and the way Mass Effect 2's camera suggestively frames her hips? Her loyalty missions were among the least interesting, and her fluctuating relationship with Cerberus, which could've been a great opportunity for genuine betrayal in the series, never made me feel uneasy.<br /> <br /> Tyler Wilde<br /> <br /> Loves...<br /> <br /> Mordin Solus (Mass Effect)<br /> <br /> Mordin is great for the following reasons: One, he's a scientist, and science is neat. Two, he blinks upwards. Three, he speaks in sentence fragments, and it is a proven fact that omitting pronouns is super endearing. Four, he is the very model of a scientist salarian. Five, he gives practical sex advice and totally doesn't judge. Six, he has a cool thing around his neck.<br /> <br /> My cynical side says Mordin was designed to be quoted by fans more than be an interesting character, but he's a very interesting character. His practical, logical morality is a bit Data-like, but unlike The Enterprise's android, he's emotional. He's just so sure of his pragmatism that he can stay upbeat despite the weight of his actions&mdash;and then he's not. It breaks my heart when he yells “I made a mistake!” in Mass Effect 3. Even if he was still talking about variables and potential outcomes, there's regret and hope there, too.<br /> <br /> Hates...<br /> <br /> Jack (Mass Effect)<br /> <br /> Jack has lived a ridiculously shitty life. She's been experimented on, tortured, and used&mdash;and tragically, all that abuse turned her into a boring character who sucks. She's that garden variety violent psychopath who's always wiping something off her lip with the back of her hand (saliva? blood?) after saying “shit.” She's mad, and she should be, but her conflict with Shepard isn't interesting. It's just&mdash;she's mad. She's really mad, and that's about it.<br /> <br /> Her grisly past means she doesn't have any interesting space culture to talk about, either&mdash;it's just a story about how Cerberus is bad and we shouldn't like them. That insane chest belt costume from Mass Effect 2 didn't help, either, and neither did the equally-stupid Biker Mice From Mars-inspired look in Mass Effect 3.<br /> <br /> Cory Banks<br /> <br /> Loves...<br /> <br /> Aveline (Dragon Age)<br /> <br /> For most of my time in Kirkwall (after a long absence, I'm only just now finishing the game), Guard Captain Aveline was merely an interesting character: stoic, hard-nosed, a fine example of how DA2's “rivalry” system can work. She often didn't agree with my actions, but our mutual goals united us. We're not friends, but we're companions.<br /> <br /> Her companion quest is what turned me around. In most BioWare games, your goal with companions is to make them like you more&mdash;and most likely, fall in love with you enough that they'll join you in an awkward, unromantic sex cinematic. Aveline's quest is different: she has a crush on a subordinate guardsman, and wants your help to get his attention. The captain of the guard is awful at flirting, however, which leads to an amusing series of scenes where you entertain Aveline's future boyfriend while she works up the nerve to talk to him.<br /> <br /> It works because it's not really about you, but about the character who is supposed to be your friend, and it's one of the most realistic character moments in a game that's supposed to be all about character. Now, not only is Aveline the best tank I can bring to a fight, but she's also an actual friend.<br /> <br /> Hates...<br /> <br /> Yoshimo (Baldur's Gate II)<br /> <br /> I'll never forgive BioWare for Yoshimo. When I first met him in the game's starting dungeon, he was a welcome help to the party&mdash;good in a fight, great with a lockpick, and the only pure-class thief players get in the game. I kept him around in the team because I needed him, but also because I liked him. But then it turned out that he was Jon Irenicus' puppet, and was forced to betray me to save his life. Not that it helped, because I had to kill him. It's a very Joss Whedon move, to make me kill a character I love, and while that might sound like praise for BioWare, it doesn't make me any less angry about it.<br /> <br /> Wes Fenlon<br /> <br /> Loves...<br /> <br /> Niftu Cal (Mass Effect)<br /> <br /> Over the years, BioWare has written tons of interesting companions who journey and grow along with you. Characters with depth and humanity. In Mass Effect, those characters are often aliens with detailed and unique physiologies. But how many of them are biotic gods? Only one. Only Niftu Cal, the funniest throwaway character BioWare ever created.<br /> <br /> Hates...<br /> <br /> Carth Onasi (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)<br /> <br /> It takes Knights of the Old Republic all of five minutes to pair you up with the most self-righteous soldier in the galaxy. There I was, walking through the streets of Taris, just trying to help out the local alien races by relieving them of their credits. That money was just weighing them down! And then here's Carth, lecturing me. So what if I goaded someone into a fight and killed them, just for the fun of it?<br /> <br /> What gives you the right to guilt me, Carth?<br /> <br /> I loved to hate Carth in Knights of the Old Republic, sneering at his<br /> <br /> honor<br /> <br /> and<br /> <br /> reason<br /> <br /> and that smug, holier-than-thou voice. He was an uncool Han Solo. Even playing as the most honest light side Jedi warrior, Carth was too bland for my tastes. I grew to hate him so much, I kept him around just so I could ignore every piece of sage advice and insult him at every opportunity. Carth's voice immediately made me angry. I'd recognize it anywhere, so as soon as he showed up disguised as Kaidan in Mass Effect, I knew that he'd be off the squad. Ashley may be a xenophobe, but she's better than the most annoying man in the universe.<br /> Blizzard explains why Tychus J. Findlay has no cigar in Heroes of the Stormhttp://www.pcgamer.com/blizzard-explains-why-tychus-j-findlay-has-no-cigar-in-heroes-of-the-storm/Tychus Findlay is the cigar-chomping Terran marine who featured in the StarCraft II announcement trailer.Fri, 22 May 2015 18:42:06 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/blizzard-explains-why-tychus-j-findlay-has-no-cigar-in-heroes-of-the-storm/BlizzardHeroes of the StormMOBANews <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CaxjC8V5j6M?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> You may have noticed, if you have sufficiently sharp eyes and didn't blink at the wrong time, that the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/starcraft-2/">StarCraft</a> stalwart <a href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Tychus_Findlay">Tychus J. Findlay</a> is missing his usual cigar in the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/heroes-of-the-storm/">Heroes of the Storm</a> "Enter the Nexus" trailer released earlier this week. It turns out there's a good reason for its absence: Heroes of the Storm has a "teen" rating, and in some regions that means there's no smoking allowed.</p><p> The question came up earlier this week on the Heroes of the Storm Reddit, where a user acknowledged that smoking is bad but said it isn't Blizzard's job to keep people from doing it. "You made Tychus and other characters in a special way, because it fits with the fantasy and the art," he <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/heroesofthestorm/comments/36lpsh/yes_we_know_smoking_is_bad_everybody_does_but_its/">complained</a>. "Are you really gonna change that vision, because somebody has a problem with it?"</p><p> The answer is yes, but not because of public health concerns. "Heroes of the Storm is a multi-region game with a teen rating. There are a magnitude of guidelines we have to be aware of," BlizzDev_PIGonzales [probably not his real name] <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/heroesofthestorm/comments/36lpsh/yes_we_know_smoking_is_bad_everybody_does_but_its/crfnkij">wrote in reply</a>. "From a development standpoint we prioritize making Heroes and Skins as utilitarian as possible, if a single model can be used in all regions, that's a huge win for development."</p><p> In this particular case, Blizzard could either make two versions of the character, or just lose the cigar. It opted for the latter, for reasons PIGonzales made very clear.&nbsp;</p><p>"Making 2 versions means more data management, multiple duplicates of the asset (if we update an animation, it has to propagate to all versions) such as the the death ragdoll model, the facial animations, his morph into the Odin, and apply that process to every skin as well," he explained. "This mountain of work affects multiple departments and has to be addressed every time we'd adjust Tychus."</p><p> This actually isn't the first time a situation like this has come up. Skelethur doesn't appear in regions with restrictions on human remains, Blizzard has to create and maintain alternate versions of anything with skulls and blood, and "there was a desire to localize Gazlowe's license plate to every region," which apparently fell through because it represented "a ton of time spent on a small detail."</p><p> So there you have it. And before you bring it up, yes, StarCraft II itself is also rated T by the ESRB; and as <a href="http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/starcraft-ii-censored-in-south-korea">Eurogamer</a> noted in 2010, it was censored for the South Korean marketplace, with changes made including the removal of references to smoking.</p> We have 5,000 Magicka: Wizard Wars starter packs to give awayhttp://www.pcgamer.com/we-have-5000-magicka-wizard-wars-bonus-packs-to-give-away/Win a bunch of goodies for the free-to-play wizard battler.Fri, 22 May 2015 17:35:03 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/we-have-5000-magicka-wizard-wars-bonus-packs-to-give-away/Magicka: Wizard Wars <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RdkOLoanQjix.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3RPZ_8jZHq7m.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="StarterPack TPPR"></p><p> Here we are again with more free stuff to give away! This time the folks behind the free-to-play&nbsp; <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/magicka-wizard-wars-review/">Magicka: Wizard Wars</a> have kindly given us 5000 Steam&nbsp;keys for some in-game goods. Here's what you can win:</p><ul> <li>3 Treasure Chest Keys (used to unlock Treasure Chest Loot beyond the free rewards each day)</li> <li>A 24-hour XP Boost&nbsp;</li> <li>5,000 Gold Crowns (used to unlock gear, trinkets, and more)</li></ul><p> To enter, just fill out the form below. As usual, instead of a 'first come, first serve' format that would be over in a snap, this giveaway is a <strong>raffle</strong>. Tomorrow morning, 5000 entrants will be randomly selected from the total&nbsp;and emailed their keys.</p><p> If you win, you can redeem your key on Steam by&nbsp;<a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/202090/" target="_blank">installing Magicka: Wizard Wars</a> (it's free) and then hitting 'Activate a Product on Steam' from the 'Games' drop down menu. Only one code will work per Steam account. Good luck!</p><p><strong>Update: The giveaway has ended and the keys distributed!</strong></p> Durante's Witcher 3 analysis: the alchemy of smoothnesshttp://www.pcgamer.com/durantes-witcher-3-analysis-the-alchemy-of-smoothness/Modder Durante analyzes The Witcher 3 to find the techniques and settings needed for a perfectly smooth experience.Fri, 22 May 2015 17:17:24 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/durantes-witcher-3-analysis-the-alchemy-of-smoothness/DuranteRPGThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/eiKEa3dsS0Sf.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/jJOlEj-GeWUl.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Durante Witcher 3 cover" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p><em>Peter "Durante" Thoman is the creator of PC downsampling tool </em><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/gedosato/">GeDoSaTo</a><em> and the modder behind Dark Souls' DSfix. He has previously analyzed PC ports of&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/valkyria-chronicles-pc-port-analysis-durantes-verdict/">Valkyria Chronicles</a><em>,&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/dark-souls-2-pc-port-mod-god-durantes-verdict/">Dark Souls 2</a><em>, and&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/final-fantasy-xiii-and-xiii-2-port-analysis-durantes-verdict/">FFXIII</a><em>.</em></p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-review/">The Witcher 3</a> is one of the biggest games of the year. After multiple delays, CD Projekt RED have finally managed to release their magnum opus. It differs from the first two Witchers&nbsp;in two significant ways: it was developed from the ground up as a multiplatform game, and it features a large, fully traversable open world. Both of these choices have gameplay as well as technical implications, and the latter are what we will investigate today.</p><p> There has been a true flurry of discussion and analysis concerning The Witcher 3's technical aspects. The performance impact of each individual setting has been investigated in detail. As retreading that ground seems superfluous, my focus will instead be on an aspect which I feel has not received sufficient attention: how best to achieve smooth gameplay in The Witcher 3 on PC.</p><p> Open world games&mdash;particularly open world RPGs&mdash;are quite a different beast from more linear games. Their performance can vary strongly according to a huge number of factors: how many NPCs are there on screen, and how many need to be accounted for in total currently? Do we need to stream some assets from disc? How much of the screen is taken up by (potentially multiple layers of) foliage? What about particle effects? And what’s the state of the day and night cycle and thus lighting? That’s just a small subset, but it should help explaining why consistently smooth gameplay is not trivial to achieve&mdash;and can be a somewhat mystic art not unlike alchemy.</p><p> In order to achieve this lofty goal,&nbsp;I first looked at the basic CPU requirements of the game, then spent significant effort looking at all the in-game as well as external tools at our disposal to improve the smoothness of the experience.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qOcaFdzzRn2b.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nPadj-WWyH-T.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Gwent" class=""><figcaption>Luckily, Gwent is smooth without any tweaking.</figcaption></figure><h3>Before we start: a note on frames per second</h3><p> If you are reading this article, you are likely familiar with the concept of Frames Per Second (FPS) as a performance metric. I will not talk about FPS much in this article&mdash;while they work well enough as a comparative indicator of performance impact, to measure the actual smoothness of a gameplay experience they are sorely lacking.</p><p> That’s because individual spikes in <em>frametime</em> (the time between 2 consecutive frames are generated) are effectively masked by the implicit time integration of the FPS metric. If you want to learn more about frametimes, <a href="http://techreport.com/review/21516/inside-the-second-a-new-look-at-game-benchmarking">look here</a> for a great introduction. For the purposes of this article, you only need to know that a consistent frametime, without sudden spikes or drops, will generally result in smoother gameplay.</p><p> Note that the benchmarks in this article were performed on a Haswell-E i7 3820k with a Geforce GTX 970 GPU. However, all the advice and general conclusions derived from it are designed to be applicable to almost any hardware setup.</p><h2>CPU requirements</h2><p> A basic requirement for smoothness is sufficient CPU headroom. Particularly in open world games, it is not uncommon to encounter CPU bottlenecks which prevent fully leveraging a given graphics hardware configuration. To investigate this issue, I performed a benchmark using a varying number of Intel Haswell CPU cores (1 to 6, and 12 with Hyperthreading) at a range of frequencies from 1.4 to 3.8 GHz.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NP898WygSDKc.PNG" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QUy8tPS_XBfk.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Cpu"></p><p> The figure above illustrates the game’s performance across this spectrum of configurations. The game’s graphics options were set to Ultra, but resolution was kept at the lowest possible 1024x768 in order to minimize GPU bottlenecks. On the Y axis, 99<sup>th</sup> percentile frametime is plotted. In simple terms, if this metric is below 16.6 ms you can expect not to be CPU limited in achieving smooth 60 FPS gameplay, and if it is below 33.3 ms the same can be said for 30 FPS. These thresholds are colored green and yellow, respectively.</p><p> What do these results tell us?</p><p><strong>&mdash;</strong>&nbsp;Core counts above 4 do not offer any advantage in this game, at least not in the scene measured. However, The Witcher 3 scales well up to 4 cores.</p><p><strong>&mdash;</strong>&nbsp;Similarly, a single core, even a Haswell core clocked at 3.8 GHz, is not sufficient to play the game smoothly.</p><p><strong>&mdash;</strong>&nbsp;Dual core processors with high per-core performance (such as a core i3) should be capable of keeping the above the 30 FPS threshold.</p><p><strong>&mdash;</strong>&nbsp;If you have at least a quad core CPU, its per-core sequential performance does not need to be tremendous to achieve consistent 60 FPS&mdash;in the benchmark, even 2.2 GHz proved sufficient.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/b5mhZAu9R9ew.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/522VeKjVJUtJ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Yes officer, he tried to get away with running the game on one core." class=""> <figcaption>Yes officer, he tried to get away with running the game on one core.</figcaption></figure><h2>Smoothness: Not quite silky out of the box</h2><p> Your CPU is sufficient to run the game, you have made choices in terms of graphics settings which are suitable for your hardware&mdash;more on that later&mdash;but the game still doesn’t feel smooth? Let’s look into that.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/MhvqzaEIRcyo.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/sdxBv6_QPo0N.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Ft Nolimit"></p><p> The chart above illustrates the peak frametimes (in red) and framerates (in green) over time achieved by the game without any internal or external frame limiting. The left chart uses borderless windowed fullscreen mode without in-game Vsync, while the right one depicts the result for fullscreen with in-game Vsync.</p><p> It should be readily apparent here why frametimes are a superior metric to FPS when looking for smooth gameplay. Just looking at the FPS average of around 40, these sequences could appear to be smooth&mdash;the truth is far from that. With wildly fluctuating frametimes of up to 100 ms, the no limiting/no Vsync case is almost unplayable, and even engaging Vsync only improves the situation marginally.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WP8Mc0aNRFOB.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/yb9fLZC2tUeH.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Ft Ingamelimit"></p><p> The in-game frame limiter option is a significant improvement. However, the frametimes still fluctuate around (and sometimes above) 33ms, resulting in frequent, momentary hitching, especially in conjunction with fixed refresh rate displays.</p><h3>Reaching Into the Saddlebag</h3><p> One great thing about gaming on PC is that you are never limited to only the options developers provide for you, or the choices they make. In this case, we are going to make use of one of the most reliable tools for combating framepacing issues:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.guru3d.com/files-details/rtss-rivatuner-statistics-server-download.html">Rivatuner Statistics Server</a>, or RTSS.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/i7T7f8nDQ0mx.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kPaoMkYJurV2.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Ft Rtss"></p><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">RTSS</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/brjA6xzGR-uR.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5JGiHMAKF0sX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Rtss"></p></div><p> An image says more than 1000 words. Still, I’ll try: RTSS achieves an incredibly smooth pacing of frames, which not only looks good on the chart but also feels solid in-game. It’s also quite simple to use: get RTSS <a href="http://www.guru3d.com/files-details/rtss-rivatuner-statistics-server-download.html">here</a>, create a profile for Witcher 3 by clicking on the “+” sign, and set the desired framerate limit. The final result should look like the configuration in the image to the right. Click the expand icon in the corner to view it full-size.</p><p> While the “Vsync” configuration looks marginally smoother than the “no VSync” one in the charts above, after a considerable amount of testing I would suggest this setup: <strong>disable both the in-game frame limiter and in-game Vsync, use borderless fullscreen mode for correct triple buffering and set the desired framerate limit in RTSS</strong>. This combination will result in consistent frame delivery while minimizing input lag.</p><hr><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/durantes-witcher-3-analysis-the-alchemy-of-smoothness/#page-2">On the next page: digging into The Witcher 3's graphics settings and further tweaking.</a></p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xQ-6e5_IT5WH.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Xjy53hJ0sENj.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Character model, armor and equipment detail is one of the graphical highlights of the game, and luckily not too performance-intensive." class=""><figcaption>Character model, armor and equipment detail is one of the graphical highlights of the game, and luckily not too performance-intensive.</figcaption></figure><h2>A qualitative approach to graphics settings</h2><p> While it is nice to know exactly how many frames per second you lose on a given GPU by enabling one specific setting, this type of quantitative information has been gathered in great detail elsewhere. Instead, I’ll try to provide some general guidelines on which settings might be worth reducing if you are unsatisfied with the game’s performance on your hardware.</p><p> Let’s start with the big ones. Each of these settings has a significant performance impact, and reducing them will make a difference for your frametimes.</p><p> <strong>&mdash;&nbsp;HairWorks</strong> does not, in my opinion, justify its performance impact in this game on all but the highest-end setups. While I absolutely love the effect, especially on monsters, and greatly appreciate it being there for future playthroughs on superior hardware, if you need more performance it should probably be among the first to go. This remains true even in after the most recent patch (1.03 as of the time of this writing), though it did improve Hairworks performance.</p><p> <strong>&mdash;</strong>&nbsp;Conversely, <strong>HBAO+</strong> is a very significant improvement over SSAO at not <em>too</em> high a cost, and having no AO at all greatly diminishes the graphics of the game. I’d suggest keeping HBAO+ enabled if at all possible.</p><p> <strong>&mdash;&nbsp;Foliage visibility range</strong> has both a high graphical and a very high performance impact. Reducing it to high or even medium can make for a nice performance improvement while reducing the lushness of distant terrain somewhat. It should be among your first choices if you need to make some cutbacks.</p><p> While not quite as important as the above, there’s a whole slew of what I’d call mid-tier settings which might just make the difference between a solid 60 (or 30) FPS and occasional frame drops:</p><p> <strong>&mdash;</strong>&nbsp;The game’s built-in <strong>anti-aliasing </strong>is more effective than usual postprocessing methods, but not by too much, and it is also not as cheap. You might reclaim some performance by disabling it and injecting e.g. SMAA externally.</p><p> <strong>&mdash;&nbsp;Grass density </strong>is similar to foliage visibility range, though with a smaller impact on both performance and fidelity. It should be among the first settings you reduce.</p><p> <strong>&mdash;&nbsp;Texture quality</strong> is really more dependent on your GPU’s memory than performance as such. If you have more than 2 GB of video memory, keep it at ultra, otherwise do drop down to high.</p><p> <strong>&mdash;&nbsp;Shadow Quality </strong>does&nbsp;have a performance&nbsp;impact, and it offers a rather smooth progression of quality from the highest to the lowest setting. It is a good candidate for reduction if you need the performance.</p><p> Finally, the settings not mentioned so far either seem to have no performance impact in the current build of the game, or it is so minuscule that I would consider the choice more aesthetic than performance-driven. Personally, I dislike chromatic aberration and vignetting, so I appreciate that the ability to disable them individually is offered.</p><h3>Further Tweaking</h3><p> If you have a very powerful system which still offers performance to spare even at maximum settings, there are some options even at this early stage to improve graphics further. One of these is tweaking configuration settings above what is possible using the in-game settings.</p><p> The configuration file can be found in “%USERPROFILE%\Documents\The Witcher 3\user.settings“ and primarily allows for increasing foliage distance and improving shadow quality. The former has a massive impact on performance as might be expected, but the latter can result in notable improvements at moderate performance costs, and might be worth looking into if you have a high-end system. Particulars regarding this process and a guideline as to its visual and performance impact are provided in <a href="http://www.geforce.com/whats-new/guides/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-graphics-performance-and-tweaking-guide#config-file-tweaks">this article</a>.</p><p> CD Projekt RED have also committed to further supporting .ini tweaking in the future, so perhaps we can look forward to, for example,&nbsp;LoD distance settings for non-foliage objects in the future. Similarly, they are planning to provide modding tools for the game, which should allow motivated fans to improve on any blemishes discovered&mdash;be they low-res or repeating textures or low-detail geometry&mdash;anywhere in The WItcher 3’s vast world.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Rqd9pEJdSFOM.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/O9-Mnw0w_Bxv.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="In other games, this scene could invite a joke about loading times. Not so in The Witcher 3." class=""> <figcaption>In other games, this scene could invite a joke about loading times. Not so in The Witcher 3.</figcaption></figure><h2>Wrapping up</h2><p> Before coming to a close, there are a few remarks I’d like to make concerning various technical aspects of The Witcher 3 which don’t really fit into any of the other sections.</p><p> <strong>&mdash;</strong>&nbsp;First of all, CD Projekt should be commended for not wasting anyone’s time. The game boots up and shuts down in seconds, with no unskippable splash screens (or worse, movies) in sight. This might seem like a trivial point, but too many games get it hideously wrong.</p><p> <strong>&mdash;</strong>&nbsp;Similarly, the game’s loading seems highly optimized considering its genre and graphical quality. And that’s despite entering and exiting buildings not requiring any separate loading at all.</p><p> <strong>&mdash;</strong>&nbsp;Another small but very convenient feature is the ability to switch resolutions and all settings on the fly within the game, again with minimal pauses and delays.</p><p> On the other side of the coin I don’t have much to complain about. One relatively minor gripe is that there is no built-in way to completely hide or restore the UI with a hotkey, or to take HUDless screenshots. This is a convenience feature which will make people more likely to provide good free marketing for your game, so I’d expect everyone to start including it.</p><p> A topic that has come up quite a bit are <strong style="background-color: initial;">game crashes</strong>. I’ve luckily not experienced these first hand, but out of curiosity I tried a very minor overclock on my GPU, one which works without issues in other titles. With just 50 Mhz above the default of my (stock overclocked) 970 I had a driver crash after less than 15 minutes in the game. While it’s unlikely to be the solution to all problems, it does appear that The Witcher 3 is very sensitive to system stability, so if you are overclocking do try to see if it might be the cause of any stability problems you encounter.</p><h2>Conclusion</h2><p> The Witcher 3 is a huge game, and just like I have only scratched its surface in terms of gameplay, I am sure that the same is true of tweaking its performance. Some GPU vendors have yet to release drivers for it, others’ are suffering from stability problems, and if history is any indication then the developers will do a great job of supporting and improving the game over the coming years. And that’s not even getting into the possibilities of the modding tools which CD Projekt RED have pledged to release later on.</p><p> However, in the here and now, Witcher 3 is already a technically solid game considering its genre and ambition. Its CPU requirements are very reasonable, and its graphical options offer enough range to make owners of both high-end and more modest systems happy. Some tinkering might be needed to get the smoothest performance, but when&nbsp;has that ever stopped us?</p> How The Witcher 3 puts misery back into mythologyhttp://www.pcgamer.com/how-the-witcher-3-puts-misery-back-into-mythology/WhyThe Witcher 3's monsters are the most interesting we've ever met.Fri, 22 May 2015 16:45:26 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/how-the-witcher-3-puts-misery-back-into-mythology/CD ProjektRPGThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RVhUp79VS_yG.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7NJAp8ZxEzVG.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher3 2015-05-18 21-08-04-87"></p><p> There's a flavour of horror that games do so well. It's a sickening feeling&nbsp;that seeps into your pores as you explore a&nbsp;relentlessly grotesque environment. A game world has many ways to infect you with&nbsp;its worldview&mdash;NPC chatter, journal entries, enemy barks, architecture, even the ambient soundscape can communicate hopelessness and decrepitude. In the bogs of Velen it's hardly subtle. The hanging men; the pallid, half-mad inhabitants; the noxious fumes parping out of the marsh; the undead things crawling around in the mud&mdash;they're all part of a superliminal honk that says "humans don't belong here". The message grows louder the moment you meet the three bog witches.&nbsp;Have they warped the&nbsp;marshlands to mirror their nature, or was this naturally-occurring cesspit too grim to pass up?</p><p> Places like Velen make The Witcher 3 extraordinary, even though there's nothing innovative about the way the game world speaks to players, and nothing especially new about the feudal fantasy kings, elves 'n dwarves setting. There's great tonal consistency however&nbsp;throughout the game's dialogue, quest text, bestiary entries, environmental and audio design. That services The Witcher 3's mythology, plucked from old Slavic myths and&nbsp;Andrzej Sapkowski's Witcher novels.&nbsp;The result is an unusually coherent take on the staid mud 'n blood fantasy formula, elevated by a fresh treatment of familiar old myths.</p><p> The skull-faced Wild Hunt are derived from the European folk villains of the same name, described as a host&nbsp;of ghostly riders who ride through the sky stealing folk and cursing witnesses with bad luck. Most of Geralt's foes have similar roots, but clever audiovisual design separates them from the&nbsp;rehashed archetypes we're used to. Think of those witches again. They&nbsp;look unlike any other videogame villains&mdash;diseased, hunched, basket-faced, sagging under the weight of hampers of bloodied limbs. It's the "double, double toil and trouble" coven, reinvented with a Welsh lilt and reams of scarred flesh.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0HjUb7s2TWWD.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/t4T4uTGnk0GM.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 3 witches"></p><p> The Witcher series has a knack for capturing myths at an unsanitised pre-Disney, pre-Tolkien phase, before beastfolk have been assigned to the 'good' or 'evil' columns of the grand fantasy race roster. There's no 'elves good/orcs bad' logic here. These aren't morality tales; the world operates in a moral haze as grey as Geralt's short 'n curlies. The Witcher 3's curses and hauntings aren't punishments from god either, much as some poor afflicted people might think so. The Witcher's villains are forces of nature, amoral and unconcerned with the wellbeing of humans. They're animals and natural phenomenon that have been elevated to myth status by humans who couldn't possibly know better. The Witcher 3 even mimics the inconsistency of the peasants' oral tradition by giving its monsters many names.</p><blockquote> The Witcher 3 is still an effective power fantasy, even though it's fundamentally a game about little people who have it bad. </blockquote><p> None of this would work without Geralt's rational, agnostic perspective. One of the advantages of having a strong individual main character, as opposed to the ensemble setup of a Bioware RPG (which has its own merits), is the strong take they give you on the world they inhabit. Geralt's view is that of a natural scientist, born into a society that only has use for his expertise in an exterminator capacity. The man knows as much about the mating habits of your garden variety Royal Gryphon as he does about swinging a sword. He's a chemist. He's better educated and more traveled than the most powerful people in the land. Though you spend a lot of time killing, Geralt's smarts&nbsp;put you in a position to affect the status quo. That's why The Witcher 3 is still an effective power fantasy, even though it's fundamentally a game about little people who have it bad.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hMGLd7F0QpmV.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/UDSJ43qOJ2it.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Geralt Holmes"></p><p> It's also why the monsters feel like more than typical videogame fodder. To Geralt there's little difference between a ghoul problem and plague. His scientific perspective turns slots high-fantasy villains into the same category as a natural disaster, or an epidemic, or other far more relatable fears.&nbsp;In The Witcher 3 a spirit that torments its captor doesn't care about the host's wants, desires and social status, it's just a parasite feeding according to its nature. That's much more disturbing.</p><p> The Witcher 3 also lets you talk to the monsters, and they have more interesting things to say than creatures in most other RPGs. Even creatures that can't speak (or don't feel like speaking to Geralt) are given a voice, through their writings, or vicariously through NPCs. I laughed with delight when I found out what the frost giant CD Projekt have shown in trailers actually wants. I'd assumed, thanks to most other RPGs, that he was just a big dumb boss monster, but through scraps of information you discover that he has his own perspective on the universe. He's got his own plans, and they have very little to do with the wretched humans buzzing around his island.</p><p> Fantasy games tend to empower players by giving us the authority to influence human affairs in worlds that revolve entirely around humans.&nbsp;In The Witcher 3 humanity clings&nbsp;to&nbsp;a world that's&nbsp;indifferent to its existence. It's grim, but I love it. In the Northern Kingdoms the forces of darkness are much more colourful and charismatic than the light.</p> Expeditions: Vikings, the sequel to Conquistadors, is in developmenthttp://www.pcgamer.com/expeditions-vikings-the-sequel-to-conquistadors-is-in-development/Logic Artists unveiled the announcement teaser yesterday.Fri, 22 May 2015 16:37:57 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/expeditions-vikings-the-sequel-to-conquistadors-is-in-development/NewsRPGStrategy <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FbvVwvO64Nc?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> <a href="http://www.logicartists.com/logicartists/">Logic Artists</a> has announced that&nbsp;Expeditions: Vikings, the&nbsp;second game in the&nbsp;strategy-RPG&nbsp;series, is now in development. Players inherit the leadership of a Viking clan in the late 700s, and must set about doing a better job of expanding its power and influence than dear ol' daddy, who's just caught the red-eye to Valhalla.</p><p> Expeditions: Vikings will expand upon the gameplay in Conquistadors, with things like an upgradeable home village, overland travel and combat integrated into the same layer, smooth transitions from exploration to turn-based combat encounters, and visible representations of the player-character in all parts of the game.</p><p> "We are very excited to return to our roots in the RPG genre, and as developers from the Nordic region, to make a game in a setting that is a lot closer to home than anything we've done before," Logic Artists Creative Director Jonas Wæver said. "We're improving on the Conquistador formula with deeper and more dynamic systems for character progression, combat abilities, role-playing, choice and consequence, and expanding on our favorite part of Conquistador: camping and wilderness survival."</p><p> It's clear that Expeditions: Vikings is aimed at a fairly niche audience, but its predecessor, Conquistadors, holds a very respectable <a href="http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/expeditions-conquistador/critic-reviews">Metacritic</a> rating of 77, and the user ratings on <a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/237430/">Steam</a> are quite positive too. There's no word of a release date yet, nor is there a proper website, but for now you can keep up to speed with happenings via&nbsp;the Expeditions <a href="https://www.facebook.com/ExpeditionsSeries">Facebook page</a>.</p> First screenshots of Shadowrun: Hong Kong releasedhttp://www.pcgamer.com/first-screenshots-of-shadowrun-hong-kong-released/Cyberpunk Hong Kong revealed, plus a Steam sale on previous games.Fri, 22 May 2015 15:30:24 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/first-screenshots-of-shadowrun-hong-kong-released/NewsRPGShadowrun: Hong Kong New Overwatch footage shows Hanzo in actionhttp://www.pcgamer.com/new-overwatch-footage-shows-hanzo-in-action/It's time for the archer to do his thing.Fri, 22 May 2015 12:03:29 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/new-overwatch-footage-shows-hanzo-in-action/FPSNewsOverwatch <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IYM7SmwMs8k" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Yet more Overwatch footage, as Blizzard reveal unedited footage of a match as Hanzo. He's the archer of the game's cast, and seems plenty nimble thanks to the ability to climb walls. Also, he can fire a big ghost-dragon at people. That is not a bad skill, as these things go.</p><p>Oh, and that blue orb thing? That's a tracking arrow that makes it easier for your team to see enemies within its radius.</p><p>This is the fourth character playthrough that Blizzard has released. Previously, we've seen&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch-footage-shows-mercy/">Mercy</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch-gameplay-video-puts-mccree-in-the-spotlight/" target="_blank">McCree</a> and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch-video-shows-full-match-played-as-omnic-monk-zenyatta/" target="_blank">Zenyatta</a>.</p> Games Workshop's Dark Future being adapted for PChttp://www.pcgamer.com/games-workshops-dark-future-being-adapted-for-pc/Dark Future: Blood Red States announced, due out this winter.Fri, 22 May 2015 11:24:26 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/games-workshops-dark-future-being-adapted-for-pc/News <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/brgMTfbITrm-.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/FEsQMujZo2dV.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="DF Concept Highway Combat"></p><p> Post-apocalypses come in many forms. There's your grim, harrowing, struggle-for-survival apocalypse; as seen in STALKER or The Road. Then there's your ridiculous, leather wearing, half-crazed apocalypse of Mad Max or Fallout. Sure, this latter dystopia says, things are bad. But isn't bondage gear fun?</p><p>This week&mdash;I assume due to the recent Mad Max: Fury Road&mdash;we've seen a couple of developers announce their ultraviolent apocalypses. There's Crossout, from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/war-thunder-devs-announce-post-apocalyptic-vehicle-combat-mmo/" target="_blank">the War Thunder devs</a>, and now Auroch Digital has announced Dark Future: Blood Red States. It's a PC adaptation of the Games Workshop boardgame, and is cheesily teased in the trailer below.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zG5DegPZwCY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>In Blood Red States the player is put in charge of a&nbsp;Sanctioned Ops agency&mdash;taking contracts and bounties out in the wastelands. The game is described by Auroch as "a turn-based strategy game, played out in simultaneous real-time action." It sounds a bit like a vehicular Frozen Synapse, which could be pretty nifty if done right.</p><p>Dark Future: Blood Red States is due out this winter.</p> Hear Nobuo Uematsu's theme for Final Fantasy XIV: Heavenswardhttp://www.pcgamer.com/hear-nobuo-uematsus-theme-for-final-fantasy-xiv-heavensward/FF14's theme backs a new trailer full of scenes from the expansion.Fri, 22 May 2015 09:50:25 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/hear-nobuo-uematsus-theme-for-final-fantasy-xiv-heavensward/Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm RebornMMONews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/SpGbOJV1T8yB.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/GnWU0hzYf9_w.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Heavensward"></p><p>Let's get into a big argument over what the best Final Fantasy song is.</p><p>Wait, first, let's enjoy this: the theme song for Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward. It's called Dragonsong, and was composed by Final Fantasy&nbsp;veteran,&nbsp;Nobuo Uematsu. The video also serves as a trailer of sorts, and features scenes from the MMO's upcoming expansion.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FtuwltmTp9I" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>The name&nbsp;Dragonsong, incidentally, refers to the Dragonsong War&mdash;a 1,000 year conflict between&nbsp;the knights of Ishgard and the dragons of Dravania. In Heavensward, players will be plunged headlong into that, er, disagreement.</p><p>Anyway, enough lore. What's your favourite Final Fantasy song? The most famous is probably The Prelude, which has followed the series throughout&mdash;although is perhaps most recognisable in its&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPx3h5bwXVQ" target="_blank">FF7 form</a>. I do also have a particular fondness for FFX-2's menu music,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9ee_Ez6tFk" target="_blank">Eternity:&nbsp;Memory of Lightwaves</a>. That probably goes without saying though, what with Final Fantasy X-2 clearly&nbsp;being the best Final Fantasy game.</p><p>Universally accepted opinions aside, which of the series' songs do you like the best?</p> The HP Omen road-testhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-hp-omen-road-test/.Fri, 22 May 2015 09:24:41 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-hp-omen-road-test/Sponsored <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/exGwlOYYTpWC.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rT3BZWYUlEwT.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Omen sponsored"> </p> <p> Gaming laptops can serve as a space-saving alternative to a gaming desktop PC, but really they're designed to travel. The HP Omen's generous hard drive lets you cart most of your games library halfway around the world and back, and play them wherever you choose, but how does it hold up in the wild? We took our HP Omen for a test drive. </p> <h4>The great outdoors</h4> <p> The HP Omen is sleek piece of kit, but the delicate angular shape makes for a surprisingly resilient package. It's proof that high-powered technology needn't be fragile. The case stayed cool and performance remained rock solid in the glare of the sun on our carefully selected grassy knoll. It's easy to forget that there's a powerful i7 CPU humming away inside the HP Omen's slender frame, and a state of the art Nvidia GTX 860M GPU&mdash;until you log into Steam and start playing. If you want to spend a lazy afternoon in the sun deposing Sauron in Shadow of Mordor, then the HP Omen is a stylish way to do just that. The Beats Audio speakers deliver great sound, too&mdash;clear and precise, even in a blustery wind. </p> <h4>The coffee shop</h4> <p> Away from the glare of the sun the crystal clear display comes into its own. The beautiful and introspective Dear Esther managed to be completely absorbing even in the noisy environment of a busy local coffee shop. The HP Omen is in its element here. The ample array of USB ports lets you charge your devices and plug in a travel mouse at the same time. The responsive touch screen makes browsing and Windows navigation breezy and the wireless adapter downloaded Dear Esther out of thin air in fifteen minutes. We enjoyed flawless performance at maximum graphics settings, and the battery life meant we could've finished the game in one sitting, if we'd been so inclined. The SSD slashes in-game loading times and makes booting and closing the laptop refreshingly quick&mdash;ideal if you have to close up and dash off to catch a train. </p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kvJEEr0oTSil.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tZhYPkQmhMXW.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Omen 2"> </p> <h4>The train</h4> <p> The HP Omen's slim build makes it easy to transport, and easy to unfold and set up in cramped environments like train carriages. It's light on the lap and&mdash;thanks to some sensible vent placement and the heat-dissipating case&mdash;doesn't toast the thighs like some gaming laptops. Customisable key backlighting mean that you can always see what you're doing, even if you pass through a long, dark tunnel. Six programmable keys to the left of the keyboard can be customised to help you control your games faster, and it also puts more control at your fingertips in cramped conditions should someone occupy the seat next to you on on a journey. You can create up to 30 combinations of key functions, so you can execute relatively complex build orders in StarCraft 2 with a single button press. </p> <p> The HP Omen returned from its adventure unblemished after impressing at every stage. Gaming laptops can be quite embarrassing things to unfold in public&mdash;huge, noisy, with garish neon lights. By comparison the HP Omen is understated and fashionable, while being undeniably powerful. The dark, brushed metal finish suits professional environments and outdoor areas alike, making this an extremely flexible and capable piece of kit. We're used to being able to enjoy games on the go on mobile and tablet devices, but it's novel to be able to walk into a field and play a cutting-edge PC game while having a picnic. Once you've done it, it's hard to go back. </p> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hRpVaU7R_Ss" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> Galactic Civilizations 3 reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/galactic-civilizations-3-review/More of a refresh than expected, but still hands down the best modern way to conquer unknown space.Thu, 21 May 2015 22:41:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/galactic-civilizations-3-review/Galactic Civilizations 3ReviewsStrategy <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">need to know</h5> <p> <strong>What is it?</strong> A turn-based 4X strategy game with some of the snarkiest aliens around and&nbsp;a big enough toybox of ships and technology to leave you in control. <br> <strong>Reviewed on</strong>: Core&nbsp;i7, 8GB RAM, GeForce GTX 970 <br> <strong>Play it on: </strong>2.4 Ghz Core i5, 6GB RAM, DirectX 10.1 video card <br> <strong>Price:</strong> $50 / £30 <br> <strong>Release Date:</strong> Out Now<br> <strong>Publisher/Developer: </strong>Stardock Entertainment&nbsp; <br> <strong>Multiplayer:</strong> Yep, with six-plus players.<br> <strong>Link:&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://www.galciv3.com ">Official site</a> </p> </div><p> There’s often a fine line between revolution and evolution, and which side is ‘right’ varies dramatically from game to game. Sometimes we want the next best thing. Sometimes we want a thing we like, simply done better. That’s what GalCiv 3 offers&mdash;not so much picking up where the last game off as returning to its template with a stern expression, some better technology, and a few years of lessons well learned.</p><p> Stardock’s series is pretty much unique in the 4X genre&mdash;a space conquest game that sits alongside Master of Orion instead of simply in its shadow. It’s not just a game of rules and strategy, but of quirky charm&mdash;witty descriptions to take the harsh edge off the technologies, an attempt to make the aliens you encounter feel like they have personalities instead of simply being a rendered face on some stats, and enough wrapping to feel like there are could actually be people/aliens somewhere behind your comma-filled population figures.</p><p> The biggest two differences between this version and the last, aside from a graphical polish, is that GalCiv 3 now supports multiplayer and demands 64-bit. The former speaks for itself. After years when the characters themselves would occasionally mock the idea, you can now have multiple players fighting over a galaxy. The 64-bit side of things is more interesting, though for the future rather than now. Much like a Civilization game, GalCiv is intended to have a long life. For the moment, it allows for crazy things like having a map with a hundred empires on it (though good luck actually doing that, never mind playing the result). It does however mean that future expansions, and player mods, have far more room to breathe than they once did, which bodes well. From another company, it would be hard to take that on the nod. Stardock though has proven form in this regard, both in improving its good games, and fixing up the originally dreadful Elemental.</p><h2>Back into space</h2><p>Either way though, the core game is extremely well-made. It’s not simply a question of rules and options but the general feel that made the series what it is, the biggest being that (with a combination of tech and wrapping, much like Alpha Centauri) playing against the AI has the feel of being up against opponents rather than simply algorithms that happen to have a face on top. Where so many 4X games, particularly space ones, are almost willfully cold, there’s a warmth to GalCiv that’s key to the fun of casual to at least mid-tier play.</p><p>Like past games, it does have a few irritations that only really strike mid-way through, such as finding out what’s actually wrong with a planet that looks like it should be performing far better, and otherwise tracking down some numbers in a pinch. By the time you’ve gone from a few systems to a bursting empire, there’s enough of them splashing around to drown in. Individual sections are very well laid out, with the Tech Tree especially making it easy to see what leads to what and what the benefits are, but the lack of a good centralised in-game Civpedia type resource does make looking things up harder than it should be.</p><p>The biggest omission from the last game&mdash;for now&mdash;is that political side has been stripped down. No elections, no governments, no spying. They’re due to return in a later expansion. The sting of that is helped by a few new arrivals though, such as ideologies. Where past games had a Good/Evil system, the civilisations this time are judged as Malevolent, Pragmatic, and Beneficial, with moral decisions providing points in each that can be cashed in for special perks. These range from basics, like a free colony ship or a top-quality planet, to galaxy-affecting boosts like any race who attacks your homeworld being automatically declared war on by everyone but their outright allies, and every planet or starbase within your Influence range joining your empire. Nobody ever said you can’t be both Benevolent and bastardly sneaky at the same time! Other new additions include pirate bases that become more of a problem the longer they’re left alone, a shift to space based ship construction, and new environmental dangers to deal with while exploring the map.</p><p>GalCiv is far more focused on the strategy side of conquest than the tactics of individual ship encounters. You don’t get any direct control over your ships at all, though you can watch the very pretty laser-beams and explosions from assorted cinematic angles if you choose. Instead, ships are given classes based on their load-out. A basic hull might be a Guardian, but slap life-support on it and it becomes a Support. Its role determines what it does and who it goes after in combat. How it actually looks though is almost entirely up to you. The design panel includes a huge selection of aesthetic items that can be scaled, moved, stuck onto hardpoints and even given some basic animation, all ‘free’. Ships can also be shared, with Steam Workshop support coming.</p><p>Whether new to the series or returning though, GalCiv 3 is easily the best recent 4X of this scale&mdash; the whole galaxy as campaign and sandbox. It’s hardly the most dramatic upgrade a game has ever had, but it’s both a more than solid update in the here and now and a great base for expansions and mods for the next few years.</p> Overwatch gameplay video puts McCree in the spotlighthttp://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch-gameplay-video-puts-mccree-in-the-spotlight/McCree is a bounty hunter with a cigar, a six-shooter, and a really sweet belt buckle.Thu, 21 May 2015 22:32:43 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch-gameplay-video-puts-mccree-in-the-spotlight/BlizzardFPSNewsOverwatch <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XkoRX2n9TSA?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> Over the last several days, Blizzard has released <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch/">Overwatch</a> gameplay footage featuring <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch-video-shows-full-match-played-as-omnic-monk-zenyatta/">Zenyatta</a>, an "omnic monk" support character, and <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch-footage-shows-mercy/">Mercy</a>, a winged medic. Now it's time for a look at McCree, a "mad dog" gunfighter with a smooth&nbsp;drawl and a sci-fi six-shooter called the Peacemaker. I'm willing to be it isn't all that peaceful.</p><p> McCree's <a href="http://us.battle.net/overwatch/en/heroes/McCree/">profile</a> describes him as a 37-year-old bounty hunter hailing from New Mexico, who was a member of the Overwatch covert ops division Blackwatch prior to leaving the organization entirely. Along with his sidearm, he also carries flash-bang grenades, can simultaneously dodge enemy fire and reload his weapon in a combat roll. His&nbsp;ult Deadeye ability involves a volley of&nbsp;hipfire that will hit every enemy in his line of sight. He also wears a belt buckle that says "BAMF," I guess because he's a big fan of the X-Men character <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamf">Nightcrawler</a>.</p><p> McCree seems like a pretty straightforward character&mdash;the kind of guy you want to be when all you want to do is shoot stuff. And really, deep down, isn't that all of us? Sign up for the Overwatch beta, which is expected to begin later this year, on <a href="https://us.battle.net/login/en/?ref=https://us.battle.net/account/management/settings/beta-opt-in.html&amp;app=bam&amp;cr=true">Battle.net</a>, and find out more about what's cooking in our <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch-hands-on-with-blizzards-upcoming-team-shooter/">February hands-on</a>.</p> Playism poll asks which Touhou game you'd like to see next http://www.pcgamer.com/playism-poll-asks-which-touhou-game-youd-like-to-see-next/Touhou 14: Double Dealing Character was released in the West earlier this month.Thu, 21 May 2015 21:37:51 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/playism-poll-asks-which-touhou-game-youd-like-to-see-next/NewsTouhou <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/FrvGBr9kSt2Y.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tZ9eHaF6uPHl.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Touhou"></p><p>Touhou Project is a series of PC games developed in Japan by an individual named Zun, that first appeared in 1995. As we wrote in our <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/an-introduction-to-touhou-project-japans-biggest-indie-series/">introduction to the series</a> from April, it consists primarily of "challenging ‘bullet-hell’ style top-down arcade shooting games," shot through with a deep and engaging mythology. It's one of the most popular indie game series in Japan, and the Western release of Touhou 14: Double Dealing Character apparently did well enough for itself to justify more. </p><p>"With all the attention that Touhou is getting, we decided to get your opinion on some of the Touhou Derivative titles," publisher Playism wrote in a <a href="http://www.siliconera.com/2015/05/21/playism-wants-to-know-what-other-touhou-games-youd-like-to-get-a-western-release/">poll</a> posted earlier this week. "What Touhou Derivative would you all like to see in the west?"</p><p>Your choices, which may or may not be listed in a particular order:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><a href="http://www.tasofro.net/6kinoko/index.html">New Super Marisa Land</a> (魔理沙と6つのキノコ lit. "Marisa and the 6 Mushrooms") </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><a href="http://www.tasofro.net/touhou145/index.html">Urban Legend in Limbo</a> (東方深秘録 lit. "Eastern Record of Deep Mysteries") </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><a href="http://wp.gensoukyou.org/genmu/">The Nightmare of Rebellion</a> (東方玄夢妖譚 lit. "Eastern Mysterious Dream Youkai Talk") </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><a href="http://aja-games.com/">Scarlet Symphony</a> (紅魔城伝説 緋色の交響曲 lit. "Legend of Scarlet Devil Castle: Scarlet Symphony". AKA "Touhouvania") </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><a href="http://area-zero.net/product/tsa/index.html">Touhou Sky Arena</a> (東方スカイアリーナ) </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><a href="http://ankake.iza-yoi.net/th/koukishin.html">Adventures of Scarlet Curiosity</a> (東方紅輝心) </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><a href="http://www.sanbondo.net/gsw01/enter.html">Gensou Shoujo Taisen Scarlet</a> (幻想少女大戦紅 lit. "Fantasy Maiden Wars E") </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><a href="http://www.geocities.jp/aaa_3peso/thLabyrinth/index.html">Touhou no Meikyuu</a> (東方の迷宮 lit. "Labyrinth of Touhou") </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><a href="http://www.gensoukyou.org/bose01/">Touhou Soujinengi The Genius of Sappheiros</a> (東方蒼神縁起 lit. "Blue God Omen") </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><a href="http://www.fo-lens.net/gn_enbu/index.html">Gensou Ningyou Enbu</a> (幻想人形演舞 lit. "Fantasy Puppet Dance Performance") AKA. Touhou Puppet Dance Performance </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><a href="http://www.tasofro.net/megamari/index.html">MegaMari - Marisa no Yabou</a> (MegaMari - 魔理沙の野望 lit. "Marisa's Ambition") </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><a href="http://www.tasofro.net/touhou123/index.html">Touhou Hisoutensoku ~ Choudokyuu Ginyoru no Nazo o Oe</a> (東方非想天則 ~ 超弩級ギニョルの謎を追え lit. "Lacking the Perception of the Natural Laws of the East ~ Chase the Enigma of the Gargantuan Guignol") </p><p>There's also an "other" option, for people who want something that's not on the list. Playism also noted that it's simply "gathering opinions" at this point, and that the poll doesn't guarantee anything.</p> The Witcher 3 gallery: the prettiest sunsets and ugliest rockshttp://www.pcgamer.com/witcher-3-gallery-the-prettiest-sunsets-and-ugliest-rocks/The Witcher 3 is a game of beautiful vistas, stunning sunsets...and some textures that don’t quite hold up when you take a closer look.Thu, 21 May 2015 21:35:52 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/witcher-3-gallery-the-prettiest-sunsets-and-ugliest-rocks/GalleryThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Harebrained Schemes hints at something new from an old franchisehttp://www.pcgamer.com/harebrained-schemes-hints-at-something-new-from-an-old-franchise/It sounds like either Crimson Skies or Mechwarrior could be making a comeback.Thu, 21 May 2015 20:52:27 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/harebrained-schemes-hints-at-something-new-from-an-old-franchise/Harebrained SchemesJordan WeismanNewsShadowrun Returns <p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/harebrained-schemes/"></a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_TLX0PPTTXO_.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/urtz8uZo97WX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Mechwarrior Online Atlas"></p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/harebrained-schemes/">Harebrained Schemes</a> has done pretty well for itself with the Shadowrun franchise, ringing up $1.8 million on Kickstarter for <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/shadowrun-returns/?page=2">Shadowrun Returns</a> in 2012, followed by the Shadowrun: Dragonfall expansion (and later, a stand-alone Director's Cut) and Shadowrun: Hong Kong, which is still in development. But in a recent interview with <a href="http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2015/05/21/harebrained-schemes-hints-at-another-classic-ip-reboot-could-be-battletech-or-crimson-skies.aspx">Game Informer</a>, Harebrained co-founders Jordan Weisman and Mitch Gitelman suggested that the studio may&nbsp;move on to something new, that's based on something old.</p><p>"There’s a very real chance of us pushing the size of the studio just a little bit more," Gitelman said. "What’s great is that we greenlit this original IP, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/shadowrun-returns-developer-announces-diabolical-dungeon-delve-necropolis/">Necropolis</a>, but there are other IPs that we’ve created in the past that we are very interested in. Maybe soon."</p><p>"We’re not going to say yet, but one of my old children may be coming home to roost," Weisman added.</p><p>Those "children" almost certainly refer to either Battletech/Mechwarrior or <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/lets-reboot-crimson-skies/">Crimson Skies</a>, and the smart money looks to be on the former. Harebrained tweeted a link to the Game Informer story shortly after it went up, which is no big deal, but then so did <a href="https://twitter.com/russ_bullock">Russ Bullock</a>, the president of <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/mechwarrior-online/">Mechwarrior Online</a> studio Piranha Games. A Piranha Games rep declined to comment on the matter, but confirmed that the studio still holds the publishing rights to the Mechwarrior franchise, which it acquired in full <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/mechwarrior-online-rights-returned-to-piranha-games-more-efficient-development-promised/">last year</a> following its split from former Mechwarrior Online partner Infinite Game Publishing last year.</p><p>It might not mean anything&mdash;but then again, it might. We've reached out to Harebrained Schemes for comment, and will update if and when we receive a reply.</p><p><strong>Update:</strong> Unsurprisingly, Harebrained has also declined to comment. "We aren't prepared to talk about anything right now," a rep said, "but we are excited about the future and the chance to bring another one of Jordan's classic IPs into Harebrained Schemes where we can give it the love and care we've given to Shadowrun."</p> R.B.I. Baseball 2015 reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/rbi-baseball-2015-review/Stripped down to arcade basics, it's buggy, bland, and not much fun.Thu, 21 May 2015 20:13:40 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/rbi-baseball-2015-review/R.B.I. Baseball 2015ReviewsSports <div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">NEED TO KNOW</h5><p><strong>What is it?</strong> A baseball game with simple, arcade-like controls.<br><strong>Reviewed on</strong>:&nbsp;Intel i7 x980 3.33 GHz, 9 GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 960<br><strong style="background-color: initial;">Play it on: </strong>Intel Core Duo, 4 GB RAM, GeForce 9500GT<br><strong style="background-color: initial;">Price:</strong> $20 / £15<br><strong style="background-color: initial;">Release Date:</strong> Out Now<br><strong style="background-color: initial;">Publisher/Developer: </strong>Major League Baseball<br><strong style="background-color: initial;">Link: </strong><a href="http://www.rbigame.com/">Official site</a></p></div><p>Current&nbsp;sports games have a lot fancy&nbsp;features, many of which I&nbsp;simply don't need. Oh, you've recorded dozens of hours of announcer voiceovers? I'll turn them off almost immediately.&nbsp;You've meticulously mo-capped every player's unique movements when they step out of the box to futz with their batting gloves? I'm going to hammer whatever button skips it. I just want to play the game.</p><p>While I don't need all those bells and whistles, it's still&nbsp;nice to have, perhaps, one or two whistles? Maybe&nbsp;at least a single&nbsp;bell? R.B.I. Baseball 2015 is stripped down to what is essentially an arcade game, which is great if you want to dispense with the flash and just play ball. It's so basic,&nbsp;though, it completely&nbsp;lacks personality, and isn't much fun.</p><p>Controls are straightforward to the point of being a little disappointing.&nbsp;You can choose from a 'normal' pitch (whatever that is),&nbsp;a fast pitch, or the most erratic&nbsp;knuckleball you've ever seen. You can&nbsp;steer the pitch&nbsp;left or right&nbsp;mid-flight to approximate curves and screwgies, but there's no pitch selection menu to pick a circle&nbsp;change or split-finger fastball&nbsp;or anything like that. While batting you can swing high or low, which will result in a grounder or fly&nbsp;ball if you connect, or hunch over for an aimless bunt. It's a&nbsp;bit awkward on a keyboard (you can't use the mouse at all, even on the main menu), and you can't change the mapping, so it's best played with a controller.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/AIZjuGi3RF-N.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/djac3OMB5k4d.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="RBI Baseball" class=""><figcaption>Who sent the runner from third? Oh right, it was me.</figcaption></figure><p>As far as fielding and baserunning, there's no option to dive for a catch&nbsp;or to slide for a base, though the AI will sometimes do it. Sometimes.&nbsp;I've had fielders chasing down fly balls only to watch them drop at their feet because they didn't dive when they should have.</p><p>I appreciate the arcade-like simplicity, and the ability to speed through games without much (or any) ado. There's no time wasted with silly business like&nbsp;the catcher throwing the ball back to the pitcher (he simply&nbsp;doesn't), and after a strikeout the batter vanishes and is replaced by the next as if by arcane magic. Despite the fact you can race through an inning in a few minutes and an entire game in a half-hour, games still seem to drag because, frankly, R.B.I. Baseball 2015&nbsp;just isn't much&nbsp;fun.</p><p>The game has zero&nbsp;personality.&nbsp;Player models are identical, with only differences&nbsp;in skin tone and the&nbsp;developer having selected&nbsp;0 or 1&nbsp;in the Beard Value column of some hidden database<em>.</em>&nbsp;You can adjust your lineup and move&nbsp;players around on your own team, but can't trade with other teams, though at least you can download up-to-date&nbsp;rosters to reflect the current season.&nbsp;If you're taking a team through a&nbsp;season, there's no option to simulate a particular&nbsp;game even though the rest of the league presumably has their own&nbsp;games simulated. You can't create your own player, either, and shepherd them through the big leagues, though I'm not sure what the point would be anyway if they looked exactly like everyone else.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vHJENyGqTISy.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oDOPjeABk42c.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="RBI Baseball" class=""><figcaption>All players are super skinny. Is this R.B.I. Baseball 1973?</figcaption></figure><p>What little animation there is isn't&nbsp;great. When players throw the ball it appears to hang in front of them for a moment before rocketing away, and while catching it sometimes appears behind them before snapping back&nbsp;into their glove. The most emotion I've seen a batter express is by&nbsp;putting his hands on his hips after a called strike, and even delivering a fastball into someone's ribs isn't fun to watch since they instantly&nbsp;teleport to their base and are replaced with a fresh&nbsp;doppelganger.</p><p>What's more, every single&nbsp;game I've played has been&nbsp;tarnished by one bug or another.&nbsp;An out being called despite an infielder never making a tag or stepping on a base.&nbsp;A batter&nbsp;stopping short of first base during a double play and allowing himself to be put out by a late throw. A fielder grabbing a ball in the outfield, then running face-first into the wall and sticking there, legs pumping in place, while the runners round the bases and score. I'm hit by AI pitches so&nbsp;regularly, sometimes several in the same inning,&nbsp;it's not a bad strategy&nbsp;to simply crowd the plate and get plunked until the runs start scoring.</p><p>I've tried on several occasions to find multiplayer opponents, but no one has ever picked up on the other end, so I can't judge how well the game plays online. As for single-player, I was left with the feeling it should have been called R.B.I. Baseball 2017 and put into Early Access for a couple years.</p> Game of Thrones episode 4 out next week, trailer nowhttp://www.pcgamer.com/game-of-thrones-episode-4-out-next-week-trailer-now/We have the release date, and a teaser, too!Thu, 21 May 2015 19:40:27 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/game-of-thrones-episode-4-out-next-week-trailer-now/AdventureGame of ThronesNewsTelltale Games <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/G22RCXlEBHc?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> Remember when we told you that the fourth episode of Telltale's <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/game-of-thrones/">Game of Thrones</a> is "coming soon?" You should, it was <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/episode-4-of-telltales-game-of-thrones-out-soon/">only four days ago</a>. Anyway, now we now that "soon" means May 26, and there's a trailer.</p><p> It doesn't look like the Forrester's situation is getting a whole lot better in Sons of Winter. Gared must leave Castle Black to venture beyond the Wall, Mira is caught up in political intrigue and scheming at King's Landing, Asher is sneaking around inside the slave city of Meereen, and Ryon is still a prisoner. Just another day at the Westerosi office, in other words.</p><p> Game of Thrones: Sons of Winter, the fourth of six episodes, comes out on <a href="https://twitter.com/telltalegames/status/601432315504431104">May 26</a>, which I may have already mentioned. In the meantime, catch up with what's already happened, and what we thought of it, in our reviews of the previous three chapters: <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/game-of-thrones-episode-one-iron-from-ice-review/">Iron From Ice</a>, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/game-of-thrones-episode-two-the-lost-lords-review/">The Lost Lords</a>, and <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/game-of-thrones-episode-three-the-sword-in-the-darkness-review/">The Sword in the Darkness</a>.</p> If you like The Witcher you’ll also like…http://www.pcgamer.com/if-you-like-the-witcher-youll-also-like/Hungry for more morally ambiguous fantasy fare? We’ve got you covered with these books, movies, and more.Thu, 21 May 2015 18:56:47 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/if-you-like-the-witcher-youll-also-like/CD ProjektIf you likeRPGThe WitcherThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/c3u22dCGSRim.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/r38zKoAl_tv1.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher3art"></p><p> Uncertainty and ambiguity are what The Witcher does best, and with the long-awaited <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/witcher-3-graphics-options-performance-and-settings/">release</a> of the third game, the series is back exploring the moral grey areas of a world where the future is in constant flux. Those blurred themes are perfectly encapsulated by the series’ titular star, the monster-hunter Geralt.</p><p> As a mutant, he’s constantly on the periphery and bearing passive witness to the ugliest sides of life. But as a kind of superhero in this world, he’s also asked to clean up the messes more ordinary beings land at his feet. And with CD Projekt’s now well-known approach to this universe&mdash;even the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-story-primer-catch-up-on-the-essentials/">truth of its own story</a> is malleable.</p><p> Although I’m only a couple of hours into the new game, one thing that’s still very clear is the continued interest in the absurdity of life. Many of us are&mdash;or have been&mdash;on the periphery in our own way, and the experience of shifting from the center to the edges of history and back is one reason I find Geralt such a compelling character. As an echo of Poland and Eastern Europe’s recent experience emerging from the Cold War, both the games and their source material in Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels continue to pose questions that still resonate today: Do we change or does the world change?</p><p> With that in mind, in this edition of ‘If you like’ I’ve put together a few suggestions that speak to the dark ambiguity of the art, attitude, and storytelling of the Witcher series.</p><h4>The Blade Itself, by Joe Abercrombie</h4> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">The Blade itself</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/H8IRZTQcRpuM.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LVrRWvv6eFsn.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Blade itself"> </p> </div><p> Part one of his First Law Trilogy, Joe Abercrombie’s <a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Blade-Itself-First-Law/dp/159102594X/ref=pd_sim_14_3?ie=UTF8&amp;refRID=0XJQ7BB6VXCXR00JSXHQ">The Blade Itself</a> revels in its fallen world. Rotting rivers, bruised flesh, and bloody teeth mark some of the images in its initial pages and it doesn’t let up from there. As a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shadow_of_the_Torturer">Gene Wolfe</a> fan, I’m also happy to see a professional torturer like Abercrombie’s Glokta take center stage in another novel.</p><p> Long associated with the “ <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grimdark">grimdark</a>” subgenre of science fiction and fantasy, I like Justin Landon’s <a href="http://www.tor.com/2013/08/07/rereading-joe-abercrombies-first-law-trilogy-introduction-and-prologue/">explanation</a> of Abercrombie’s style: “Grimdark is hyper-realistic, in a way that Kill Bill is hyper-violent. It’s a reality of absurdism, if you will.”</p><p> As I mentioned above, so much in the Witcher can come off as absurd as well&mdash;it’s visible in the lack of clarity over which side Geralt is actually on, and his general world-weariness. It’s also worth pointing out that with all the success and attention paid to subversive fantasy settings such as GRR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and its adaptation by HBO, some are tiring of all the gloom and negativity. Not me. It’s an approach to reality that I see mirrored in Abercrombie’s writing and one that I will always revisit when it’s done so well.</p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Elric of Melniboné</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/OmILAj3MQdKu.jpeg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EExprg2E4IkY.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Elric"><i style="background-color: initial;">Click the arrows to enlarge.</i></p> </div><p> Beyond the association I see between Sapkowski’s work and the recent grimdark turn in fantasy writing, many have suggested a link between Michael Moorcock’s important Elric of Melniboné stories and some of themes present in the Witcher. Moorcock’s Elric, a sword-wielding, soul-stealing figure known as the White Wolf, first came to prominence in the early 1960s. I picked up <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Elric-Stealer-Chronicles-Emperor-Melnibone-ebook/dp/B0013TX6EY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1432132802&amp;sr=8-2&amp;keywords=elric">this collection</a> recently, which looks to be a good introduction to the character. In his foreword to the text, comics legend Alan Moore writes rather majestically that: “No matter where the various strands of Moorcock’s sprawling opera ended up, or in what lofty climes, the bloodline started out with Elric. All the narratives have his mysterious, apocalyptic eyes. The tales included in this current volume are the first rush of that blood, the first pure spurts from what would prove to be a deep and never-ending fountain.”</p><p> A good endorsement, surely.</p><h4>Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas, directed by Arnaud des Pallières</h4><iframe width="480" height="373" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="true" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" id="nyt_video_player" title="New York Times Video - Embed Player" src="http://graphics8.nytimes.com/bcvideo/1.0/iframe/embed.html?videoId=100000003285128&amp;playerType=embed"> </iframe><p> Choices&mdash;and their sometimes terrible consequences&mdash;have created some of the richest moments in the Witcher games. In a world painted only in shades of grey, how do you steer yourself? Some, in recognizing this uncomfortable fact of life, choose a path of avoidance, simply withdrawing so as to never be faced with a truly difficult decision. Others barrel forward with a moral clarity that can in its own way prove just as self-destructive.</p><p> The latter approach is the lesson of Michael Kohlhaas. In the film <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Uprising:_The_Legend_of_Michael_Kohlhaas">Age of Uprising</a>, a French adaptation of a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Kohlhaas">very famous German story</a>, a horse trader named Kohlhaas makes his own choice about what sort of moral code governs his life when faced with the casual injustice of the pre-modern world. Never <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/30/movies/mads-mikkelsen-stars-in-age-of-uprising.html?_r=0">mess with a man’s horses</a>.</p><p> Played by an actor who’s an expert in slow-burning fury, Mads Mikkelsen’s Kohlhaas is brilliant and projects an attitude of both tenderness and ferocious violence. And from a design perspective there’s so much to admire in the film’s casting choices, costuming, and expansive country setting.</p><h4> The art of Jakub Rebelka</h4><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/KsdIaG66r-M" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> Even if Jakub Rebelka’s name doesn’t sound familiar, Witcher fans will likely <a href="http://shzrebelka.tumblr.com/post/79658731351/witcher-memories-some-of-the-illustrations-for">recognize his work</a> from the animated cutscenes that dotted The Witcher 2. <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2014/11/28/7301743/jakub-rebelka-art">Influenced by artists</a> such as Moebius and Katsuhiro Otomo of Akira fame, Rebelka’s style is simultaneously familiar and surreal.</p><p> The Polish concept artist’s drawings in the second Witcher game largely worked to fill in some of the gaps in Geralt’s fractured memory. In this way Rebelka’s distinct style worked as a nice contrast to the more realistic approach CD Projekt applied to the rest of the game. The violence and bloody savagery of the Witcher’s life prior to the story presented in the games are well-served by Rebelka’s vivid interpretation. His art pushes us in the provocative direction of not knowing what to trust about Geralt’s faulty memory.</p><p> Prints of Rebelka’s work are available <a href="http://www.inprnt.com/gallery/shzrebelka/">here</a>.&nbsp;</p><p> <em>For more installments of ‘If you like...’, check out Patrick’s recommendations for&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/if-you-like-dishonored-youll-also-like/" target="_blank"><em>Dishonored</em></a><em>, </em><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/if-you-like-mass-effect-youll-also-like/"><em>Mass Effect</em></a><em>, </em><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/if-you-like-skyrim-youll-also-like/"><em>S</em><em>kyrim</em></a><em>, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/if-you-like-fallout-3-youll-also-like/">Fallout 3</a>, and <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/if-you-like-deus-ex-youll-also-like-2/">Deus Ex</a> fans.&nbsp;</em></p> Witcher 3 patch adds new graphics options and improvementshttp://www.pcgamer.com/witcher-3-patch-adds-new-graphics-options-and-improvements/The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 1.03 patch also improves stability and performance.Thu, 21 May 2015 17:52:26 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/witcher-3-patch-adds-new-graphics-options-and-improvements/CD ProjektNewsRPGThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt/"></a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6vlatwynTeG3.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TpSsk9ThK6EE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt"></p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt/">The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt</a> 1.03 patch is now live on <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/games/292030/announcements/detail/134325508037699556">Steam</a> and <a href="http://www.gog.com/game/the_witcher_3_wild_hunt_preorder">GOG</a>. Developer CD Projekt says the update improves both stability and performance, and adds additional graphics settings as well.</p><p>The full list of changes:</p><ul> <li>Improves stability in gameplay and the UI </li><li>Improves performance especially in cutscenes and gameplay </li><li>Fixes grass and foliage popping that could occur after density parameters were changed </li><li>Improves Nvidia Hairworks performance </li><li>Boosted texture anisotropy sampling to 16x on Ultra preset </li><li>Sharpen Post-process settings extended from Off/On to Off/Low/High </li><li>Blood particles will now properly appear after killing enemies on the water </li><li>Corrects a bug where player was able to shoot bolts at friendly NPCs </li><li>Improves menu handling </li><li>Corrects an issue with Stamina regeneration while sprinting </li><li>Fixes a cursor lock issue that sometimes occcured when scrolling the map </li><li>Generally improves world map focus </li><li>Improves input responsiveness when using keyboard </li><li>Corrects some missing translations in the UI </li><li>Corrects an issue in dialogue selections </li><li>Rostan Muggs is back </li><li>Minor SFX improvements</li></ul><p>The release of the patch follows <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/cd-projekt-addresses-witcher-3-graphical-downgrade-complaints/">comments made</a> by CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwinski, who hinted that future updates to the game could enable improved visual quality. The statement came in response to complaints that the game's graphics had been downgraded from what had been shown in a 2013 promotional trailer.</p><p>Graphically downgraded or not, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is by all reports an outstanding game. <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-review/">Read our review</a> to find out why.</p> Learn to (out)play: thoughts on skill growth and Dotahttp://www.pcgamer.com/learn-to-outplay-thoughts-on-skill-growth-and-dota/As you play more Dota, your skill doesn't just improve: it changes too.Thu, 21 May 2015 17:51:08 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/learn-to-outplay-thoughts-on-skill-growth-and-dota/Dota 2MOBAThree Lane HighwayValve <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zTnvwTukScyY.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zy2PQAN0Ilwd.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Undying"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Three Lane Highway</h5> <p> Every week, Chris documents his complex ongoing relationship with Dota 2, Smite, and wizards in general. </p> </div><p> Last weekend I spent almost exactly two and a half hours in the International Open Qualifiers. I <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-weeks-highs-and-lows-in-pc-gaming_may15_2015/">wrote beforehand</a> that I'd have been delighted to get through the first round, and technically that's what happened. Technically. As it happened, our first round opponent didn't show up and we waited, waited, waited for the game that'd determine our next match to finish. It started late and ran long, meaning that we were sat on Skype for almost two hours building KSP rockets and tinkering with Invisible, Inc. Eventually, we got to play. Then, soundly outmatched, we lost in under half an hour.</p><p> I'd hoped to be able to roll into this week's column with a better story than that, but that's more or less the extent of it. We didn't acquit ourselves terribly, but it turns out that if you lose all three lanes and they have a draft that can teamfight early and push then it's pretty hard to fight your way back into the game.</p><p> We were disappointed but neither particularly surprised nor particularly disheartened. We had some very specific shot-calling and strategic problems to solve, but we understood them and they seemed solvable. A similarly positive line of thought was this: that we'd lost but understood why, knew that our opponents had much more experience of the game than us but could also see the road from where we are to where they are. And so on. There's comfort in seeing your failure in these granular terms, in picking out the little things that went well and appreciating the skill it took to make other things go so badly.</p><p> That's the note we ended on. Since then, I've been thinking about a lot. I've started to suspect that, in reality, that sense of a linear course between you and a superior opponent is actually pretty misleading.</p><p> For one thing, your ability to parse&nbsp;<em>why</em> an opponent has been successful is very much grounded in your own experience of the game&mdash;in the sorts of things you value, and therefore in your<em> own</em> conception of how you win. When you watch somebody play well and think 'I could do that', you're probably focusing on the aspects of their play that you already understand&mdash;i.e, exactly the stuff you <em>don'</em>t need to learn.</p><p> That's a pretty disheartening thing to realise, particularly because it means that raw practice isn't a catch-all solution to an experience deficit. It's not enough to dump time into the game: you have to learn to invest that time into the right places. With that in mind, then, it's useful to identify the way in which the nature of skill <em>changes</em> as players become more experienced. Not 'improved'&mdash;changed.</p><p> I found <a href="http://i.imgur.com/yFGzyL2.png">this chart</a>, by Redditor Ave-Nar, pretty interesting. Here's the original <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/DotA2/comments/36jjeg/normal_high_and_very_high_skill_win_rates_55_for/">thread</a>. It illustrates the changes in hero win rates both across different patches and across multiple skill levels&mdash;normal, high and very high in this case. There are some really interesting patterns, and these patterns tell us not just about the heroes themselves but how they relate to player skill.</p><p> Take, for example, Necrophos in 6.82 and Omniknight in 6.84. Both show a high winrate that declines linearly as you progress from normal to very high&mdash;a downwards diagonal slant. Although they are played in different positions, both heroes also have a similar impact on the game (tremendous teamfight sustain and laning presence) and are, crucially, straightforward to play. An Omniknight only needs to press R at the right time to completely tip a pub-level teamfight where half of the players have locked physical damage carries. A sub-par Necrophos can get away with spamming Q and using R to steal everybody's kills&mdash;the fact that he is also healing his allies and extending enemy respawn times as he does it is a bonus that the normal skill-level player doesn't really need to think about too much.</p><p> As a result, winrate declines with skill&mdash;because better players know how to work or counterpick both of these heroes, and neither of them have very many options when they've been outmaneuvered or outplayed. That linear decline demonstrates something basic: that as players get better, they get better at <em>denying the enemy an easy way to win</em>.</p><p> Contrast with Undying in 6.84. His pattern is similar to Troll Warlord in 6.83&mdash;lowest winrate in normal skill, highest in high skill and then a dip down again in very high skill. This inverted 'check' shape is really interesting. Undying in particular is a hero that requires a bit of expertise to use properly. You need to know how to gauge the impact of stolen strength on an enemy. You need to understand how to position a tombstone, and particularly how the many recent changes interact with his skillset&mdash;I still encounter people trying to counterpick Undying with Bristleback who look surprised when the quills do nothing to the zombies. In short, you don't need to be a great player to use Undying effectively but you need a fundamental understanding of how Dota works and how it has changed over time.</p><p> You also need to understand drafting, to a degree. You need to be able to both pick a partner for Undying and know where to lane him to do the most damage to the enemy's laning phase. All of this is what signifies a high skill player&mdash;and explains why Undying's winrate takes a huge leap between the two brackets.</p><p> Then, in very high, he falls off. With good reason&mdash;the best players can do all of the above and understand that their opponent is <em>also </em>doing all of the above. If an Undying pick is likely, a very good player will have planned for it. The process of getting better at Dota&mdash;as with other competitive games&mdash;is one of gradually transitioning from a focus on <em>you</em> to a focus on <em>them</em>.</p><p> Put it another way: as skill increases, player aspirations change. This is a generalisation, but the trend is for lower-level players to enter a game with a plan that they intend to execute. Land a lot of Pudge hooks. Play Void&mdash;whatever it is. They understand this plan in and of itself, they understand the hero and the items they need, but the plan doesn't take into account the enemy. Thing is, the enemy isn't thinking about them either. Two self-focused plans smack into one another and 50% of the time yours comes out on top.</p><p> Then comes outdrafting, whether by directly countering picks or simply by playing the meta. This involves a better understanding of the game and some sense of what the enemy's strategy might be, but it's still ultimately a series of decisions that are focused on the self. The composition of most pub drafts is, I think, the product of these two forces acting against each other: someone vanity picks, so somebody does an obvious counter-pick, and so on, where actual team-wide synergy is a rarity.</p><p> Improvement, then, is a matter of moving steadily away from understanding what you want to do&mdash;or what you might be able to do&mdash;and towards what your opponent wants to do. Towards figuring out what <em>their</em> dream looks like, and breaking it. It's never that simple, of course&mdash;if I understood everything that went into making that work, I wouldn't be shit at Dota. But thinking along these lines is useful because it gives you the shape of a solution if not the steps to get there: getting there is, after all, is a matter of time. It's not enough to look at an opponent and think 'that could be me'. When you have that extra experience, you don't <em>wan</em>t to want to be them. You want to look at the way they play and see all of the holes.</p><p> <em>To read more Three Lane Highway, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/three-lane-highway/">click here</a>.</em></p> Hellraid development put on holdhttp://www.pcgamer.com/hellraid-development-put-on-hold/Techland says it's shifting its efforts back to Dying Light.Thu, 21 May 2015 17:33:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/hellraid-development-put-on-hold/ActionHellraidNewsTechland <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LKexCtabSyaq.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/DGTG3eAYgWL-.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Hellraid"></p><p>Originally announced in April 2013, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hellraid/">Hellraid</a> is a first-person action game about battling the forces of Hell, who are raiding the dark fantasy world in which the game is set. Or at least it would be, if it ever actually came out. And right now, that's not looking too likely.</p><p>"We would like to officially announce that our dark fantasy FPP game Hellraid will not be released this year as previously planned, and the development of the game has been put on hold," Techland <a href="http://hellraid.com/blog/development-of-hellraid-official-statement">announced</a> today. "In the recent months we conducted an internal analysis and came to the conclusion that Hellraid, in its current shape and form, is not meeting our own expectations for this project. Therefore, we decided the best course of action would be to send it back to the drawing board and invent our dark fantasy title anew."</p><p>That reinvention isn't going to happen right away, however. Techland said its focus for now will be on the "further expansion of our <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/dying-light/">Dying Light</a> franchise," and there's no indication of a possible future release date. That's not quite the same as an outright cancellation, but it's awfully close.</p> Need for Speed reboot is a "nocturnal open world" street racerhttp://www.pcgamer.com/need-for-speed-reboot-is-a-nocturnal-open-world-street-racer/Do you feel the need for (another) Need for Speed?Thu, 21 May 2015 16:55:13 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/need-for-speed-reboot-is-a-nocturnal-open-world-street-racer/Electronic ArtsNeed for SpeedNewsRacing <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MPZPmfE_1Co?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> Electronic Arts has announced that the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/need-for-speed/">Need for Speed</a> franchise is being completely rebooted as an open-world game built around an "authentic urban car culture." The new game, called simply Need for Speed, is being developed by Ghost Games, the studio behind the 2013 release <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/need-for-speed-rivals/">Need for Speed: Rivals</a>.</p><p> "Need for Speed is one of the most iconic names in gaming, and we're returning it to greatness in this reboot," Ghost Games Executive Producer Marcus Nilsson said. "Pulling on our 20 years of history, and then taking a year out from releasing a game, we are making the game we’ve always wanted to. We're listening to the fans and delivering an experience that will capture their imagination and unleash their passion for cars and speed."</p><p> EA said in the announcement that it is collaborating on Need for Speed with <a href="http://www.speedhunters.com/">Speedhunters</a>, "an international collective of photographers, writers &amp; drivers with a shared passion for digging up the most exciting stories surrounding Car Culture happening anywhere in the world," to ensure a high-level of detail and authenticity in the game.&nbsp;</p><p> The announcement isn't entirely unexpected: You may recall that around this time last year, Nilsson said EA had decided to <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/your-need-for-speed-will-go-unsatisfied-this-year/">skip</a> releasing a new NFS in 2014, "so we can work towards a highly innovative Need for Speed in 2015." Interestingly, there's nothing about it posted on the Need for Speed <a href="http://www.needforspeed.com/">website</a>, but there is some noise being made about it on the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/needforspeed.na?brand_redir=1">Facebook page</a>. The new Need for Speed is currently slated to come out this fall.</p> 15 overlooked RPGs that are worth playing todayhttp://www.pcgamer.com/15-overlooked-rpgs-that-are-worth-playing-today/Our most loved lost RPG gems.Thu, 21 May 2015 15:38:38 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/15-overlooked-rpgs-that-are-worth-playing-today/Best ofRPG More developers announced for the PC Gaming Show at E3http://www.pcgamer.com/more-developers-announced-for-the-pc-gaming-show-at-e3/Confirmed:ArenaNet, CCP Games, Creative Assembly and more.Thu, 21 May 2015 15:36:27 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/more-developers-announced-for-the-pc-gaming-show-at-e3/E3News <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/dHiOAu9-QkSW.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gBq2LRalpV7l.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="PC Gaming Show"></p><p>We're doing an E3 show.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/amd-and-pc-gamer-bring-the-pc-gaming-show-to-e3/" target="_blank">Maybe you've heard about it?</a> Called the PC Gaming Show, it's our attempt to give the PC some long&nbsp;overdue love at E3. Today, we're revealing the next round&nbsp;of developers who'll be making an appearance.</p><p>The newly announced participants include&nbsp;ArenaNet, CCP Games, Creative Assembly,&nbsp;Fullbright, Frictional Games, Frontier Developments, Nexon, Pixel Titans, SCS Software and Splash Damage.</p><p>They'll be joining the previously confirmed participants, including&nbsp;Blizzard, Bohemia, Cloud Imperium, Devolver, Paradox, Heart Machine, Square Enix, Tripwire, Humble Bundle, Dean Hall, Cliff&nbsp;Bleszinski and AMD.</p><p>If you're keeping track, that means we'll have the developers of everything from Guild Wars 2 and Eve: Online, to Strafe and Euro Truck Simulator 2. How's that for a PC conference?</p><p>Hosted by Sean 'Day[9]' Plott, the PC Gaming Show will take place at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. The whole event is being livestreamed on Twitch, and will feature new game reveals, updates on in-development games and insightful perspectives from the industry's leading figures. For more details, head over to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamingshow.com/" target="_blank">the show's official website</a>.</p> Rockstar files suit against BBC over upcoming dramahttp://www.pcgamer.com/rockstar-files-suit-against-bbc-over-upcoming-drama/GTA maker wants to "protect our intellectual property" against BBC's Game Changer.Thu, 21 May 2015 14:03:18 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/rockstar-files-suit-against-bbc-over-upcoming-drama/Grand Theft Auto 5NewsRockstar <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cxRpygEKSRiv.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/fhjIKEY7zG2E.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Gta5 Pc 24"></p><p>Rockstar Games' parent company, Take-Two,&nbsp;is taking legal action against the BBC over the broadcaster's upcoming drama, Game Changer. The 90-minute film,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/bbc-announces-tv-drama-about-the-making-of-gta/" target="_blank">announced in March</a>, focuses on the making of GTA, and the controversy and moral panic that erupted around the series. In a&nbsp;<a href="http://uk.ign.com/articles/2015/05/21/rockstar-games-files-lawsuit-against-the-bbc" target="_blank">statement to IGN</a>, Rockstar said that it wants to protect its intellectual property, and ensure that trademarks aren't misused.</p><p>"Our goal is to ensure that our trademarks are not misused in the BBC's pursuit of an unofficial depiction of purported events related to Rockstar Games," said Rockstar.&nbsp;"We have attempted multiple times to resolve this matter with the BBC without any meaningful resolution. It is our obligation to protect our intellectual property and unfortunately in this case litigation was necessary."</p><p>Game Changer is based on the "narrative non-fiction" book Jacked:&nbsp;The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto. The&nbsp;book has been criticised due to author&nbsp;David Kushner's lack of access to key members of the story. The show is planned for broadcast later this year, and stars Daniel Radcliffe as Sam Houser and Bill Paxton as wild-eyed irritant&nbsp;Jack Thompson.</p> Technobabylon reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/technobabylon-review/A compelling cyberpunk adventure.Thu, 21 May 2015 13:56:12 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/technobabylon-review/AdventurereviewReviewsTechnobabylon <div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">NEED TO KNOW</h5><p><strong>What is it?</strong>&nbsp;A multi-character cyberpunk adventure game.<br><strong></strong><strong>Reviewed on</strong> GeForce GTX 970, Intel i5-3570K @ 3.40GHz, 16GB RAM<br><strong>Expect to pay</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong>£10/$15<br><strong>Release date</strong>&nbsp;May 21<br><strong>Publisher</strong> Wadjet Eye Games<br><strong>Developer</strong> Technocrat Games<br><strong>Link</strong>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.technobabylon-game.com">Official website</a></p></div><p>In this neon-drenched vision of the future, connecting to the internet whisks you away to a virtual world called the Trance. It’s where Latha, one of Technobabylon’s protagonists, is happiest.</p><p>In ‘meatspace’ she lives in a dilapidated government apartment, wearing printed overalls, eating grey nutrient slop from a food machine; in the Trance she looks like an extra from The Matrix and spends her days in a dazzling cyber-world made of shimmering holograms. I don’t blame her.</p><p>Regis, another playable character, couldn’t be more different. He’s an old school cop who doesn’t trust this fancy new technological world, which is governed by an all-seeing AI called Central. Central has a knack for predicting crimes before they happen, but Regis doubts its effectiveness.</p><p>His partner, Max, is a younger cop who Trances like Latha, but respects his old methods. Central, represented by a computerised female voice, is forever scolding Regis for taping over the lens of the camera in his office.&nbsp;Regis and Max are investigating a series of murders by a killer nicknamed the Mind Jacker. Much of the game is like a sci-fi police procedural&mdash;Deus Ex meets Police Quest&mdash;and sees you investigating crime scenes.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Xa0IPVUaR_y4.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nGgRFk02i5Pv.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="0"></p><p>I won’t say how, because spoilers, but Regis and Max’s story soon crashes head-on with Latha’s, revealing a conspiracy. It’s cyberpunk: of <em>course </em>there’s a sinister conspiracy to uncover. The story is fantastic. It’s well-paced and written, with plenty of surprising twists.</p><p>The world design is pretty standard for a setting like this, with skyscrapers, flickering neon signs, people with mohawks, and lots of glowing screens. But, despite the low resolution that typifies all Wadjet Eye games, skilled use of lighting, shadow, and atmosphere make it a place you want to exist in.</p><p>The strong art makes up for its technical shortcomings, from Regis’s balcony overlooking the city&mdash;complete with genetically engineered tree&mdash;to the palatial home of a crime boss. If you like that whole Blade Runner aesthetic, this is a world worth visiting.</p><p>I have to give a special mention to the screen that appears when you transition between areas as Max or Regis. You see a car driving down a futuristic highway, neon-lit skyscrapers in the background, lights reflecting off its windows, as some really cool ambient synth music plays.&nbsp;It’s a shame the area selection screen has to pop up and obscure it. The music is, incidentally, really good throughout, with echoes of Michael McCann’s score for Deus Ex: Human Revolution.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/V57KHYhrQdmR.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hs3_2zN1aObh.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="3"></p><p>Puzzles are, this being an adventure game, a big part of Technobabylon, and they’re mostly good&mdash;with a few exceptions. The best are the ones that play to the setting, like the section where you have to get information out of a robot maid by sticking different personality chips in her&mdash;including one from a chirpy AI-powered food dispenser. I’d give more examples, but, again, spoilers.</p><p>The worst are the ones that fall back on traditional point-and-click puzzle absurdity, combining items in ludicrous ways and so on. But mostly they’re logical, challenging, and satisfying to solve.</p><p>Wadjet Eye have been publishing old-style adventure games for years now, and this is one of their best releases. Developer Technocrat has created a cyberpunk world that, while riffing on a dozen other examples of the genre, manages to have a personality of its own, populated by a cast of genuinely likeable characters.</p><p>Some of the puzzles leave a lot to be desired, including one involving a fishing rod and a magnet that feels out of place tonally with everything else, but there are some great ones too. If you want to be told a good story in an interesting world, Technobabylon is worth a look.</p> Torment: Tides of Numenera trailer explores the Ninth Worldhttp://www.pcgamer.com/torment-tides-of-numenera-trailer-explores-the-ninth-world/New scenes from the techno-magic RPG.Thu, 21 May 2015 12:01:22 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/torment-tides-of-numenera-trailer-explores-the-ninth-world/NewsRPGTorment: Tides of Numenera <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ybqE8FlLrqg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>If Wasteland 2, Divinity: Original Sin and Pillars of Eternity didn't sate your old-school RPG appetite, then, luckily for you, there's still Torment: Tides of Numenera to come. Also you might want to get that insatiable hunger looked at. See a doctor, or something.</p><p>InXile's Planescape successor is still in development, but you can get an early peek at some of its locations via this new trailer. It explores the Ninth World in which the game is set. And before you ask, no. You won't need to have seen worlds one through eight for it to make sense.</p><p>Away from Torment, InXile are gearing up for A Bard's Tale IV. Andy Chalk recently spoke to Brian Fargo about the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/brian-fargo-interview-wasteland-torment-and-the-new-bards-tale/" target="_blank">studio's past, present and future projects</a> in the wake of their third Kickstarter.</p> Battlefield Hardline: Criminal Activity DLC detailedhttp://www.pcgamer.com/battlefield-hardline-criminal-activity-dlc-detailed/New maps, weapons, vehicles. And a nailgun.Thu, 21 May 2015 10:57:19 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/battlefield-hardline-criminal-activity-dlc-detailed/Battlefield HardlineNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-dhhaXTDQpaH.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HjdbSb4JLZ3l.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="BFHardline"></p><p>Battlefield Hardline's DLC is criminal. By which I mean the game's&nbsp;first "expansion" is called Criminal Activity, and <em>nothing else</em>.</p><p>It's your standard Battlefield add-on offering, by which I mean there are some maps, weapons, vehicles and a new game mode. Also, there's a nailgun.&nbsp;You can see the full offering below, courtesy of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.battlefield.com/hardline/news/battlefield-hardline-criminal-activity">Battlefield blog</a>.</p><ul> <li>Four fast-paced new maps – Backwoods, Code Blue, The Beat and Black Friday</li><li>Two new rides</li><li>Two new ammunition types for specific weapons</li><li>A new gadget</li><li>Three new weapons</li><li>A nailgun battlepickup</li><li>New Bounty Hunter game mode</li><li>Six new masks: two animal masks, and four new police headgear options</li></ul><p>As with all recent Battlefield games, Hardline is getting four add-ons over the next year. Criminal Activity is due out next month, with Premium members getting a two-week head start.&nbsp;</p> There is a live-action Batman: Arkham Knight trailer, for some reasonhttp://www.pcgamer.com/there-is-a-live-action-batman-arkham-knight-trailer-for-some-reason/Okay, "action" may be too strong a word.Thu, 21 May 2015 10:02:19 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/there-is-a-live-action-batman-arkham-knight-trailer-for-some-reason/Batman: Arkham KnightNews <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gn-twZm_wEY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>This is weird, but maybe you'll enjoy it.&nbsp;It's a live-action Batman: Arkham Knight trailer, but without much in the way of&nbsp;action. Also, for some reason, it's backed by Nine Inch Nails' The Wretched. Symbolism, probably. Anyway, I'm pretty bemused by the whole thing, but there is a smidgen of game footage at the end.</p><p>If you'd prefer to just see a big ol' chunk of game footage, last November's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/batman-arkham-knight-trailer-shows-new-batmobile-footage/" target="_blank">Ace Chemicals mission playthrough</a> offers just that. Alternatively, check out our guide to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/batman-arkham-knight-everything-you-need-to-know/" target="_blank">everything you need to know about Arkham Knight</a>.</p><p>Batman: Arkham Knight is out next month, on June 23.</p> League of Legends introduces automated 'player reform' systemhttp://www.pcgamer.com/league-of-legends-introduces-automated-player-reform-system/Riot Games continues its campaign against toxicity.Thu, 21 May 2015 03:18:55 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/league-of-legends-introduces-automated-player-reform-system/League of LegendsMOBANewsRiot Games <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Et5mg7OJTcWs.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/FiGZ9r3D3E82.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="League-of-Legends1"></p><p>Riot Games is determined to purge<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/league-of-legends/"> League of Legends</a> of its toxic elements, and a&nbsp;<a href="http://na.leagueoflegends.com/en/news/game-updates/player-behavior/new-player-reform-system-heads-testing">new automated system</a> takes a step in the right direction. Basically, any chat logs containing evidence of harrassment will be evaluated by a system, which will email the relevant text to the offender along with the applicable punishment.&nbsp;</p><p>It works like this: teammates or opponents report a toxic player, whereafter the automated system sends through a reform card to the offender. The system also determines the severity of the punishment, ranging two-week to permanent bans.</p><p> The system is rolling out for testing in North America today, and Riot's "player behavior team" will personally vet the first few thousand cases to judge the systems viability. If it works, it'll go global. Eventually the system could be used to reward positive player behavior, too.&nbsp;</p><p>It's the latest in a long line of recent moves to clean up the League of Legends scene: fresh disciplinary measures were rolled out in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/league-of-legends-is-testing-new-disciplinary-measures-for-extreme-toxicity/">July last year</a>, including denying toxic players from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/league-of-legends-to-block-toxic-players-from-joining-ranked-queues/">joining ranked queues</a>.&nbsp;</p> The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-review/A big, beautiful, sprawling action RPG full of rich stories, and suffused with an oppressive darkness.Thu, 21 May 2015 00:21:46 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-review/CD ProjektReviewsRPGThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">NEED TO KNOW</h5><p><strong>What is it?</strong> Huge, tangential action RPG in a dark fantasy setting<br><strong></strong><strong>Influenced by:</strong> Skyrim, the novels of Andrzej Sapkowski&nbsp;<br><strong></strong><strong>Reviewed on:</strong> Windows 8.1 (64-bit), Intel Core i7-4720HQ, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M / 3GB GDDR<br><strong></strong><strong>Play it on:</strong> Intel Core i5-2500K / Phenom II X4 940, GeForce GTX 660 / AMD Radeon HD 7870, 6GB RAM<br><strong></strong><strong>Alternatively:</strong> Dragon Age: Inquisition, Skyrim<br><strong></strong><strong>Copy protection:</strong> Steam, or none via GOG<br><strong></strong><strong>Price:</strong> $60 / £50<br><strong></strong><strong>Release date:</strong> Out now<br><strong></strong><strong>Publisher</strong>: EU / UK / AU: Bandai Namco, US: WB Games<br><strong></strong><strong>Developer:</strong> CD Projekt RED<br><strong></strong><strong>Multiplayer:</strong> None<br><strong>Link</strong>:&nbsp;<br><a href="http://thewitcher.com/witcher3">http://thewitcher.com/witcher3</a></p></div><p>A powerful daughter figure needs saving from an entourage of black-draped specter horsemen. Dangerous supernatural powers are at risk of falling into their malevolent hands, and I’m meant to stop that catastrophe. There’s an overwhelming sense of urgency, but there I am, basically tying off sacks for peasants.</p><p>It happened like this: early in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt/">The Witcher 3</a> I was tasked with finding a witch. The witch lived in&nbsp;a nearby waterside cottage and was reported to have details on the whereabouts of aforementioned daughter figure. I was determined to speak to her immediately. My cause was urgent, after all. I’m Geralt of Rivia, scorned Witcher, master swordsman, and I have no time for nonsense.</p><p>On my way to the witch I stumbled upon a typically destitute Velen village. I didn’t care about the village at all, and I wasn’t drawn to its armories or tradesmen. But something&mdash;maybe the sun setting so amber on the horizon, or the children dashing frantically through the muddy streets&mdash;made me stop. I was curious.</p><p>It probably goes without saying, but if you’re in a hurry, never get off your horse enroute in an open world RPG. This is especially true for The Witcher 3. Several hours later, once I’d cleared out some monsters for a desperate peasant in her far-off stable, and made preliminary moves to slay a beast haunting the town, I forced myself to leave. Turns out the witch was only 50 metres North all along.</p><p>I didn’t really want to leave, though. It’s not that I liked the town, and it’s not that I savoured the fantasy of being a hero to its people. It’s certainly not because I wanted to tick off this town’s quests (there are so many quests, there’s no point being thorough). I was just curious about the villagers’ circumstances. I’d gotten to know the town, but I didn’t understand it. How did they get so poor and wretched? Am I complicit, thanks to my (reluctant) connection with the Nilfgaardians? Is it the climate? Or is it just the way they’ve always lived?</p><p>Straight up, this is the most remarkable thing about The Witcher 3. Its writing isn’t perfect&mdash;it still bears some of the familiar trappings of being a video game&mdash;but it almost always rewards curiosity, big time. The rewards for wondering are invariably bleak, but The Witcher 3 achieves something very few video games do: when I’m engaged in a peripheral mini-narrative I’m not necessarily thinking about its game aspects. I’m not thinking about the XP rewarded, or the money I’ll get, or the allegiances I’ll forge, or the buffs I’ll unlock. I’m not grinding. I just really want to know, and understand, what’s going on. </p><p>Geralt’s cause may seem urgent, but the worst way to play The Witcher 3 is quickly. In this game, distractions overwhelm you. For mine, the game’s distractions are where its most engaging stories are found.</p><h3>Beyond the Villages</h3><p>Geralt is the hero. He’s a gruff, powerful, chiselled, archetypal male video game protagonist. Early on, The Witcher 3 has him exploring the Northern Realms, recently taken over by the warmongering Nilfgaardian Empire, for women he’s either a) in love with or b) eager to protect. He kills monsters, beasts and bandits along the way. He’s recalcitrant in the face of royal authority. He lets his beard grow. He’s tough.</p><p>I didn’t like Geralt before I started playing The Witcher games. I’d see his face on marketing material and smirk: he was just another by-the-numbers video game power fantasy. It’s not that this fantasy is thoroughly objectionable to me, but it definitely seemed as if Geralt of Rivia was a boring video game tough guy. A cliche. </p><p>The truth is, he’s only the video game tough guy cliche you make him. Geralt has his complexities, but he inherits them from you. He’s a malleable character, and I feel more connected to him than I do the thoroughly customised RPG characters in Skyrim. His wit, his ingrained prejudices and allegiances, are just subtle enough that they don’t impinge on my ultimate control of who he is.</p><p>Before I get to the finer details, here are the cliffnotes: Geralt is tasked with finding the daughter of Emhyr var Emreis, Nilfgaard’s emperor. The Nilfgaardians have taken, by force, most of the regions you’ll visit in The Witcher 3. It’s not immediately obvious whether they’re a force for good or bad (especially if you’ve never played a Witcher game before), but one thing is certain: nothing is going well. The people in The Northern Realms are miserable. There’s the weak and the strong, and no grey area in between. Poverty is everywhere: alcoholism, boredom, listlessness. Nothing is going to be OK, but evidence suggests it was never OK to begin with, Nilfgaardians or not.</p><p>Matters are complicated by the fact that said Nilfgaardian leader’s daughter, Ciri, is someone dear to Geralt, and that a dark force–the Wild Hunt–is pursuing her. The official mission only lends a wider context to a more personal endeavour on Geralt’s part, as this was a woman he’d trained from a young age, and accepted as a daughter.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LdnMSI9ZS3WY.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RAdwrQGIKL_R.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 3 Ciri" class=""><figcaption>Ciri is a central character, and she's even playable in certain linear sequences.</figcaption></figure><p>In true sprawling RPG fashion, that’s not all that The WItcher 3 is about: finding Ciri isn’t the crux of the game’s narrative. Other power struggles come into play later on, and then some other stuff happens, and then&hellip; the whole world is at stake and you’re the one to save it. It’s a fantasy RPG, after all, and while the ending is typically grandiose and heartstopping, the main thread would feel a bit rote without its minor story arcs. You won’t care so much that the world is at stake unless you’ve made the effort to learn a bit about it via sidequests. And while newcomers won’t feel punished for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-story-primer-catch-up-on-the-essentials/">skipping the first two games</a>, they’ll miss the rewarding familiarity of old characters and references. To accommodate new players, dialogue options are sprinkled with opportunities to gain background information on plotlines involving historical events.</p><p>You’ll usually have a handful of main quests in your log, as well as potentially dozens of secondary ones, as well as Witcher contracts (fully fledged, investigation-led monster-slaying jaunts), and each is complemented with cutscenes. Certain secondary quests appear to affect the main narrative proper, and CD Projekt RED has done an admirable job blurring the lines between primary and secondary. Everything in The Witcher 3 feels big: the dungeons are huge and sprawling, the decisions immeasurably consequential, the moral responsibility through the roof.</p><p>Truth of the matter is that the best stories you’ll take away from The Witcher 3 are peripheral to the main narrative. This is for two reasons: while Geralt is a character that you can’t aesthetically customise to any satisfying degree (you can’t deck him out in mage gowns), you can really make him yours thanks to a nuanced and consequential dialogue system. The second reason is more obvious: the Northern Realms is among the most lifelike, sadly beautiful and strange fantasy worlds ever committed to code, and you’ll want to pick it apart. You play a dual role as Geralt: steely, masculine protagonist on the one hand, and foolhardy, ignorant tourist on the other.</p><h3>The White Wolf</h3><p>As a Witcher, Geralt is armed with two swords and five magic abilities called Signs in addition to bombs, crossbows and other, more spoilery strategies. Combat in The Witcher 3 is simple: slash away at your foes, apply effects and buffs where necessary, roll or block to evade, and sprinkle in sign abilities where needed. These signs include a fiery blast, a telekinetic stun, an offensive shield, a mind control ability, and a static magic trap. </p><p>While simple to learn, the combat system punishes mindless hacking and slashing against anything but low-level wolves and dogs. Geralt’s cumbersome gait, and your inability to break his animations, means close attention needs to be paid to most encounters. Like the Souls series, a defensive approach is important until you’ve sussed out the weaknesses of your opponent. Some will be resistant to your fire sign, so you may be better off equipping a protective shield, and so on. Overall, it’s satisfying to exercise caution and dexterity, especially at higher difficulty settings where you can’t just meditate to replenish Geralt’s health bar.</p><p>During my first playthrough I felt that levelling Geralt was excruciatingly slow, but it happens at a fast clip if you know what you’re doing, and skill points can be acquired throughout the world without grinding. There are four main categories to sink levels into, and three have five deeper categories of their own. The problem, early on in the game, is knowing what to prioritise&mdash;especially since trees need to be equipped in one of a series of growing slots. I specialised in swordplay and Igni in the early hours (fast attacks and Geralt’s fire ability), but it’s possible to go more defensive. For example, levelling your mind control ability will influence dialogue options against non-aggressive characters. </p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/4zkf8GmOTSiL.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QizVKHBsUu3h.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher3 2015-05-18 22-33-24-09" class=""> <figcaption>Despite being a Witcher, bandits still insist on roughing Geralt up. It doesn't end well for them.</figcaption></figure><p>The biggest bone of contention is going to be the alchemy and crafting systems, which are incredibly detailed in The Witcher 3. Geralt finds alchemy blueprints regularly, but happening across the ingredients required to create them is slow unless you know where to look (and you won’t). Thing is, there are hundreds of ingredients, and The Northern Realms are huge. Once you’ve found the ingredients you’ll never need to acquire them again, but when it comes to upgrading armor and weapons it’s important to have a game plan, and it’s unwise to concentrate on improving the lowly weapons you’ll find early game, which are colour coded according to their power. </p><p>While there’s nothing wrong with complex crafting systems, it’s not improved by The Witcher 3’s dense and sometimes tedious user interface. There’s evidence of console-centric design in the radial menus and keybinds (number buttons can switch between signs but won’t immediately cast them as in Witcher 2), but the inventory and character menus are clearly designed with PC in mind. That said, a few more categories would help: it’s only a matter of hours before your Usable Items and Ingredients tabs are swollen to the brim, with no rhyme or reason as to how items are sorted. Overall, the PC version still feels the best.</p><p>The PC advantage is obvious when it comes to combat, which benefits from a mouse and keyboard. Due to Geralt’s syrupy movements the ability to more rapidly adjust the camera with the mouse is a saving grace, especially when the game’s lock-on system leaves a lot to be desired. It definitely locks on, but when it comes to scrolling through enemies on the battlefield it’s less than ideal. It’ll usually take a left-to-right approach, rather than a back-to-front approach, which doesn’t work well when you’ve got more than three enemies baying for your blood, and one right up in your face. </p><p>Having personally played the game across two systems (a high-spec gaming laptop as well as a console build), I can confirm that fighting is much more enjoyable at 60 frames per second. It makes blocking and parrying a lot more readable against human characters, and a little bit of slowdown during evasive moves can prove an annoyance.</p><h3>Lay of the Land</h3><p>There are two main regions in The Witcher 3: the aforementioned Velen and The Skellige Isles. There are a few smaller areas, but it’s in these main regions that the bulk of The Witcher 3 plays out. They’re big, of course, but that’s not what matters. The Northern Realms are the most vibrant video game locations I’ve ever seen: less cartoony and more detailed than Dragon Age: Inquisition, and more naturalistic&mdash;less uncanny, less janky&mdash;than Skyrim. But that’s not hugely important either.</p><p>What’s important is that when all of the Witcher 3’s environmental elements work in concert&mdash;the weather you can forecast by looking at the sky, the foliage that rustles and bends in the breeze&mdash;it’s hard not to feel something. When the sun sets it appears to melt in a sea of apocalyptic orange, and you know what? It’s a beautiful, sad orange. The Northern Realms are engaging and lifelike, sure, but they convey melancholy unlike any other open world I’ve encountered. </p><p>That melancholy extends to the people and situations Geralt encounters too. Witchers are scorned for being mutants and sub-humans, and they’re reputed to not feel anything. The thing is that I, the player, couldn’t help being affected, and while many of the dialogue decisions I made appeared to be morally-inclined, it was sometimes hard to make decisions along those lines without feeling like I’d done something wrong. This is a dark fantasy. It’s dark and horrible and oppressive.</p><p>This can be alarming. There are some obscenely vicious characters in The Witcher 3 that you’re allowed to feel sympathy for. You might not, but the option is there, and that’s perilous territory for a video game. CD Projekt RED has approached this openness with as much sensitivity as possible, but in the end, it’s hard not to cringe in dismay when you’re given the option to sympathise with a domestically violent character. </p><p>There are other minor issues with CD Projekt RED’s world-building. There are few fetch quests as such, but there are several occasions where you’ll go to talk to one character, who will advise you to go talk to another character, who will advise you to go seek out four other characters, and so on. In a 100+ hour game these moments barely make a dent, but they’re a clumsy way to present story in a narrative-driven RPG. As incentive to explore the world they don’t work, because there’s ample reason to explore anyway.</p><p>Then there’s the investigation scenarios, where Geralt uses his Witcher sense to detect telltale signs in the environment. There’s little thought needed on the player’s part, as simply finding the objects will help Geralt deduce his next move. This works especially well in Geralt’s monster contract quests, but as part of grander narratives they could benefit from a little more depth. I’d have liked to be forced to use my brain a bit more.</p><p>Meanwhile, The Witcher 3 doesn’t bring much that’s bracingly new to the modern RPG. It’s a series of refinements: the questing and attention to detail is better than Skyrim, the pervasive sense of dread is thicker than Fallout 3 and the decisions more impactful than Mass Effect 2. It relies on familiar gameplay beats to tell a story, but shows no evidence of wanting to experiment on a grander scale. I was never surprised by the game’s systems as much as I was intrigued by its setting.</p><h3>Beneath the Skin</h3><p>Comparing notes with my PC Gamer colleagues, the game ran well on a variety of configurations. Using an Intel i5-2500k processor and an Nvidia GTX 980 at 2560x1440, we were able to run everything on Ultra, barring HairWorks and Foliage Visibility Range, which we ran at High. The game operated comfortably at around 50 fps in 1440p, though with HairWorks on and Foliage set to Ultra, it dipped to 25-35 fps. Meanwhile, using an i7-5960x and Nvidia Titan X, we had no problem maintaining a consistent 60 fps at 1080p. Framerates tended to be more stable compared to another recent heavyhitter,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/gta-5/">GTA 5</a>.</p><p>Overall, on a two-year-old system 60 fps should be manageable with some settings adjustments, and while the game really sings at high-to-ultra settings in 1080p, the differences between those settings tend to be subtle. On a high-end laptop I only had framerate issues in specific locations around Velen, where unusually thick foliage and water effects culminated in drops to around the 45 fps mark. Compared to the PS4’s wavering 30 fps and frequent, pre-launch slow downs, it’s a huge improvement.</p><p>The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-2-review/">Witcher 2</a> still has a reputation for pushing PC graphics to the limit, and while graphics in The Witcher 3 are undoubtedly impressive, it’s not the Crysis many expected it to be. The fidelity matters less here than the scale. As storms approach, and gales rustle and bend tree branches, and as the deers run for cover, it’s hard to dispute this is a gorgeous game. The lighting and weather effects are breathtaking. It’s difficult to resist stopping to stare into the distance.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/KKtro0ubQ1CH.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/V3lkeKn6gfZN.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher3 2015-05-19 13-26-18-90" class=""> <figcaption>That's me, staring into the distance again.</figcaption></figure><p>Still, on a granular scale it’s unlikely to endure as the graphical showpiece its predecessor was. You don’t have to look far to find low-quality textures. Foliage is thick and abundant, but leaves are flat 2D textures bisecting to create the illusion of 3D. Clothing still looks thick and lived-in, but not dramatically better than Witcher 2. Facial animations and non-mocapped character animations don’t push any new boundaries and occasionally look awkward or stiff. Skin pores and facial expressions are fine, but even mocapped faces lag behind the most impressive contemporary facial animation. </p><p>These aren’t criticisms so much as observations that The Witcher 3 isn’t the great leap forward some might have hoped. Designing open worlds like this doesn’t come without compromises. It’s disappointing that it doesn’t live up to the potential showcased in the first trailers, but we can only enjoy what’s in front of us for what it is.</p><p>It’s the storytelling and art direction that impresses more than the raw details, and these are the reasons The Witcher 3 consumed me. I felt more engaged with the Northern Realms than I ever did Skyrim, and even as the narrative advanced and tension mounted&mdash;and even when I felt I knew the lay of the land pretty well&mdash;I was still compelled to take it slowly and learn. </p><p>For a game boasting all of the political treachery and turmoil common in the genre, The Witcher 3 succeeds because it puts people first. More compelling than Geralt’s lofty, heroic journey are the stories about the humdrum, circumstantial horrors of the helpless as they watch their world crumble. I’m looking forward to returning to The Northern Realms and visiting all of its villages and ruins. That’s where the heart of The Witcher 3 lies: not in its hero, but in the complicated world it brings to life.</p> Getting the best out of GTA V's Rockstar Editorhttp://www.pcgamer.com/getting-the-best-out-of-gta-vs-rockstar-editor/While the immediate benefits of playing GTA V on PC over all the other versions are clear,perhaps the greatest addition of all is just how easy GTA V PC makes it for you to create your own high quality videos and share them online.Thu, 21 May 2015 00:11:20 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/getting-the-best-out-of-gta-vs-rockstar-editor/ <p>While the immediate benefits of playing GTA V on PC over all the other versions are clear – it's hard to say no to things like the increased framerate, extra detail and screen resolutions up to 4K – perhaps the greatest addition of all is just how easy GTA V PC makes it for you to create your own high quality videos and share them online.</p><p>Simply recording in-game footage is a piece of cake, but what makes this functionality even better is the game's built-in Rockstar Editor, which makes it absurdly straightforward to assemble your various gameplay clips into great-looking videos. YouTube is already awash with people's own little Vinewood productions; take a look at some of these:</p><p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ITAnNzj-zg" target="_blank">Running, Man, by 8-BIT BASTARD</a></p><p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zzq3-Vkf3dA" target="_blank">Heavy Rain by CooliSushi</a></p><p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHwsvy_EWaI" target="_blank">The Epic Stand Off by DomesticMango</a></p><p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8R6oXlIzJU0" target="_blank">Franklin – Time by Jack Hunt</a></p><p>Considering how long the editor's been out in the wild, this some impressive work. And if you've been too busy actually playing the game to venture into the world of the Rockstar Editor, here are some tips to start you on your way.</p><p>First of all, record some footage: simply hit F1 to start and stop recording, or use the game's Action Replay mode, which constantly buffers game data, and whenever something brilliant's just happened that you simply have to have a recording of, press ALT+F1 to save an action replay. One thing to bear in mind is that if – as you almost certainly are – you're playing in first-person mode, you won't be able to adjust the camera in the editor, which is about 80 percent of the fun. So switch to a third-person view for recording purposes to save yourself disappointment later on.</p><p>You might also want to try out Director Mode, which frees you up to choose exactly what scene you want to shoot. With Director Mode enabled you can choose characters, a location, plus time of day and weather so that you can get the mood for your piece absolutely right.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/JWIqx6Z7RKyI.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NfmHGFE6yqJT.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="01 Directormode"></p><p>Once you have all the video you want to work with, the editor's a joy to use. Simply start a new project and add a clip, then you can go into edit mode and really have some fun. Scrub through the timeline and you can watch what you've filmed (and also give it a trim if it goes on a bit too long), and then you can add markers throughout, which is where you can let your directing skills loose.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RQuHzMLfSgaQ.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/aKTCp00EmdVE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="01 Editproject"></p><p>Once you've added a marker you can change the camera to any of a number of set options; the most versatile is the free camera, which will definitely be your new best friend. With this you can tell the camera what to point at and whether it should move, by cycling through available options. You can adjust the depth of field and add a bit of camera shake if you like, as well as speeding up or slowing down playback, and then you can fine-tune exactly where you want your camera to be, with full control over its position, orientation and level of zoom. The best way to get a feel for what it's capable of is to simply play with it; you might be surprised at just how versatile it is.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3D3yC3AaTHOm.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/d_kE9FyLT3Nw.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="01 Freecamera"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RGIL3bptS6yT.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YCNohMbpFemD.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="01 Depthoffield"></p><p>Having sorted your camera there are other settings that you can change for each marker: you can add a variety of filters and adjust their parameters to your personal taste, and there's an audio menu for changing the levels of sound effects, dialogue and music.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cBnyEAByQ-eK.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/KOf-K3TF7HM6.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="01 Filters"></p><p>Happy? Great, now you can scrub through your clip and add more markers, changing the camera settings for each one to give your video a more movie-like quality. Switch between static and moving cameras, cut to quick close-ups of your protagonist, enhance impressive stunts by going into slow-motion... basically see what works best for you. It's all the fun of being a director without the hard work of setting up shots in advance; being able to change everything in post is a lot more enjoyable.</p><p>If you're done with your clip, you can go in and add another, and keep on going until you're done. Now you can preview your entire piece, and add a soundtrack as well if you like; either something from GTA V's many radio station or, if you prefer, a dynamic soundtrack that you can adjust to reflect the action in your video.</p><p>Finally, export your finished masterpiece. Choose 60pfs and a high bit rate and set it on its way, and here's the clever bit: even though your PC might not pack the NVIDIA GTX 980 you need to see the game at its best in real time, when it's rendering your video, GTA V will turn all the options up to that what you see is what you'd get on a totally tricked-out PC.</p> The big VR face-offhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-big-vr-face-off/Affordable next-gen VR is fast approaching, but which system's best for you? We weigh up the options.Thu, 21 May 2015 00:11:13 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-big-vr-face-off/ <p>Virtual Reality has been just around the corner that it's hard to come to terms with the fact that it's going to arrive soon, in a form that you'll actually be able to buy and that won't make you nauseous after a few minutes' immersion.</p><p>Chances are that your next big hardware purchase could be your very own VR (or AR – more on that later) system, but which one should you go for? Here we take a look at the big players and outline what's on offer.</p><p><strong>Oculus Rift</strong></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mE3GBPH5R_23.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nECUzK-O9xfs.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Crescent Bay Front Pers on Light1"></p><p>If there's one name that's synonymous with virtual reality at the moment, it's&nbsp;<a href="https://www.oculus.com/rift/">Oculus Rift</a>. Thanks to its original, headline-grabbing appearance as a Kickstarter project, and helped by Id's John Carmack giving it his public backing (he's now Oculus' CTO), Oculus Rift came out of nowhere to become the one VR headset that everyone wanted to own. Getting bought out by Facebook – which notably resulted in Markus 'Notch' Persson announcing that he was cancelling the Rift version of Minecraft – raised the Oculus profile even higher.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ftBQ4r8bQPWh.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TLQTYOZaAbbL.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Oculus Crescent Bay"></p><p>The other big advantage that Oculus Rift has is that developers have had their hands on the hardware and SDKs for a while and there are already a number of games that support it. Over 100,000 DK2 units have been shipped to developers (and even if you're not a developer you can order one now and get in on the fun ahead of the pack) and while a firm release date has yet to be set for the consumer version, it's generally expected to be on sale this year, and for less than the $350 that you'd pay for a DK2. It should feature a resolution of at least 1920x1080 with a 90Hz refresh rate, with six degrees of freedom – 3-axis rotational tracking and 3-axis positional tracking – as well as integrated HRTF audio, wireless operation and an improved build quality over the development kits.</p><p><strong>SteamVR</strong></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Z17c1-XPTw6f.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/4G1eRznzqmrO.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="SteamVR Vive"></p><p>Described as "a full-featured, 360° room-scale VR experience",&nbsp;<a href="http://steamcommunity.com/steamvr">Valve's&nbsp;SteamVR</a>, developed in partnership with HTC, is a more recent VR offering that appears to have the technical edge over Oculus Rift. The big advantage is the fact that whereas the Rift generally requires you to stay more or less in one place, SteamVR is made for moving around. It manages this thanks to the use of two base stations that you can place in opposite corners of a room, and which will map out the shape of the room and create a virtual space up to 15 foot square that you can safely explore without bumping into walls.</p><p>Unveiled at this year's Game Developers Conference, SteamVR's headset, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.htcvr.com/">HTC Vive</a>, features over 70 sensors to enable sub-millimetre accuracy in its tracking, and features two 1080x1200 screens with a 90Hz refresh rate. It also has the advantage of coming with its own controllers – a pair of single-handed devices based on Valve's own Steam Controller and designed with VR interaction in mind. Valve has stated that the consumer version will be available to purchase by the end of the year, and it has just opened up applications for developers to order their own development kits. And while the Rift has the head start on available games, SteamVR's free APIs and its ties with Valve's steam system mean that it should quickly catch up. The downside, though, is that you can probably expect to pay more than for the Oculus Rift.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/IpwHw79wS6e3.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udwu5brl4reO.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steamvr 2"></p><p>Oculus Rift and SteamVR have their differences, but what they both have in common, of course, is the need for a hefty piece of hardware to actually generate their VR worlds. It's all very well having a gaming rig that can run a 1920x1080 monitor at 60fps, but creating an immersive VR experience takes things to a different level. Whether you opt for the Rift or SteamVR, you'll need hardware that can run two high-resolution screens simultaneously at 90fps with minimum latency. Basically, you're going to need a bigger GPU; whether it's something from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.geforce.com/hardware/desktop-gpus?keys=&amp;field_gpu_series_value=900">NVIDIA's GeForce 900 series</a> or&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amd.com/en-us/products/graphics/desktop/r9">AMD's R9 series</a>, you'll want something that can keep pace with your headset without dropping a frame, and which can give you a crisp, anti-aliased image that won't break the illusion of reality.</p><p><strong>Microsoft HoloLens</strong></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1uiUQG1GSYmB.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/r9JDnllZu_j8.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Microsoft Hololens Lg 1500x1000"></p><p>There's another option, though, and while it's not VR it's something that offers an intriguing alternative to the full-on immersive options of Oculus Rift and SteamVR.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us/hardware">Microsoft's HoloLens</a> is pitched as "the first fully untethered, see-through holographic computer", and instead of immersing you in your own virtual world, it superimposes high definition 3D imagery onto the real world that you can interact with using hand gestures, similar to those used with Microsoft's Kinect system. If you find the idea of virtual reality a little intimidating – or if you're worried that once you're in you might never want to come out – Microsoft's Augmented Reality headset might just be the thing for you.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/m0_vt8wrTfmb.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Qt4XRYaLXNQV.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Hololens Minecraft"></p><p>The big benefit is that for the HoloLens you won't need to splash out for a top-end GPU to run it; instead the HoloLens is a self-contained system that, says Microsoft, contains more computing power than the average laptop. Which, when you think about it, isn't a great amount of power, but considering that it's not having to generate an entire VR environment but instead projects 3D objects on top of your actual surroundings, that may well be more than enough for the job. There's no release date for the HoloLens yet, but with support built into Windows 10 – not to mention the seductive possibility of Minecraft projected onto your tabletop, and&nbsp;<a href="http://blogs.unity3d.com/2015/04/29/announcing-support-for-microsoft-hololens/">Unity support just announced</a> – Microsoft could well be onto a winner, assuming the price isn't too prohibitive; we fully expect this to be the most expensive option of the lot.</p> CD Projekt addresses Witcher 3 graphical downgrade complaintshttp://www.pcgamer.com/cd-projekt-addresses-witcher-3-graphical-downgrade-complaints/Co-founder Marcin Iwinski says there was no choice but to dial back the graphical detail a bit.Wed, 20 May 2015 23:12:53 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/cd-projekt-addresses-witcher-3-graphical-downgrade-complaints/CD ProjektNewsRPGThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3L0wESnrR-Cl.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PvBnc5pbR6dy.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Witcher 3"></p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt/">The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt</a> is a major hit, but it's also been the subject of complaints that its graphical quality has been downgraded from what we saw in a <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-trailer-shows-a-world-in-which-everything-is-on-fire/">trailer</a> that aired a couple years ago at VGX. CD Projekt has acknowledged that the quality of the visuals in the game is indeed a step down from what it presented, but while co-founder Marcin Iwinski told <a href="http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2015-05-19-cd-projekt-red-tackles-the-witcher-3-graphics-downgrade-issue-head-on">Eurogamer</a> that nobody at the studio feels good about how things ended up, there was simply no way to avoid it.</p><p>"If you're looking at the development process, we do a certain build for a tradeshow and you pack it, it works, it looks amazing. And you are extremely far away from completing the game," Iwinski explained. "Then you put it in the open world, regardless of the platform, and it's like, 'Oh shit, it doesn't really work.' We've already showed it, now we have to make it work. And then we try to make it work on a huge scale. This is the nature of games development."</p><p>He also said that suggestions that the PC version of the game was held back by the console editions is accurate, but only to a point: Without the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 releases, he continued, The Witcher 3 as it is wouldn't exist on any platform, because the studio simply couldn't afford to make a game of this scale exclusive to the PC.</p><p>CD Projekt hasn't commented on the issue until now because "we didn't see it as a problem," he said. "In a way, because of us not seeing it as a problem, and working hard on the game until the very end, that's where we are today and that's why we have to explain. I hope it shows our intentions, because we are not hiding anything."</p><p>"Maybe we shouldn't have shown that [trailer], I don't know, but we didn't know that it wasn't going to work, so it's not a lie or a bad will - that's why we didn't comment actively. We don't agree there is a downgrade but it's our opinion, and gamers' feeling can be different," he said. "If they made their purchasing decision based on the 2013 materials, I'm deeply sorry for that, and we are discussing how we can make it up to them because that's not fair."</p><p>He also suggested that future updates could improve the game's visual quality, and suggested that anyone who still has doubts should wait to see what happens in the future before purchasing the game.&nbsp;</p> Magnetic: Cage Closed developers show first 15 minuteshttp://www.pcgamer.com/magnetic-cage-closed-developers-show-off-the-first-15-minutes-of-gameplay/This is how it works.Wed, 20 May 2015 22:27:58 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/magnetic-cage-closed-developers-show-off-the-first-15-minutes-of-gameplay/Magnetic: Cage ClosedNewsPuzzle <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0EOr-pZh-bk?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> Magnets! If you're still not sure how they work, then maybe you should check out this new video from Guru Games, the developers of the upcoming first-person puzzle game <a href="http://gurugames.se/games/magnetic/">Magnetic: Cage Closed</a>. It contains the first 15 minutes of gameplay, and reveals a bit more about where you are, and why you're horsing around with all these blocks and buttons.</p><p> The short answer to the latter question (and also the only one the video provides) is that if you don't, you'll die, although I expect the full game will dig deeper into that narrative element, much as <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/portal/">Portal</a> slowly revealed its secrets as it progressed. Other Portal similarities are quite obvious, including the use of cubes as a central component of gameplay and a menacing female voice urging the player forward. The "magnetic" angle also reminds me of <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/magrunner-dark-pulse-review-1/">Magrunner: Dark Pulse</a>, and maybe it's just my imagination but I'm picking up a bit of a BioShock visual vibe, too.</p><p> Magnetic: Cage Closed is currently <a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/344410">available for pre-order</a> for a slight discount off the regular purchase price of $15. The launch happens on May 26.</p> Voxelnauts is a Minecraft-inspired, VR-friendly MMOhttp://www.pcgamer.com/voxelnauts-is-a-minecraft-inspired-vr-friendly-multi-world-mmo/Voxelnauts looks like Minecraft, but promises modding "far beyond what you’d ever expect."Wed, 20 May 2015 22:25:56 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/voxelnauts-is-a-minecraft-inspired-vr-friendly-multi-world-mmo/MMONewsVoxelnauts <iframe src="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1760210928/voxelnauts-vr-mmo/widget/video.html" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" height="458" width="610"> </iframe><p> A <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voxel">voxel</a>, simply put, is a three-dimensional pixel. They've been around for ages&mdash;NovaLogic used them to great effect in the mid-90s, in the Comanche series&mdash;but these days people tend to think of them solely in terms of <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/minecraft/">Minecraft</a>. And Minecraft is clearly one of the inspirations behind Voxelnauts, the VR-friendly MMO that recently turned up on <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1760210928/voxelnauts-vr-mmo">Kickstarter</a>. But it aims to go far beyond Minecraft's boundaries.</p><p> The central idea is that Voxelnauts will consist of thousands of planets, each of them unique, with its own items, monsters, story, and rules of play. Developer Retro Ronin will create some of the worlds, but many will be built by players through the use of internal and external tools like Blender and MagicaVoxel. To help the process get up to speed, the game's first planet, called Oasis, will be open-sourced to everyone at no charge.</p><p> "When we describe what we're building, sometimes we do refer to it as a virtual reality sandbox metaverse, even though that's a mouthful," Retro Ronin co-founder Daniel Mross says in the Kickstarter video. "Within our metaverse, you'll be able to jump between different worlds that are built by different publishers, and different developers, and individuals, and have a completely different gaming experience every single time you play if you want."</p><p>Another big hook is that the whole thing is being made as VR-friendly as possible. It's an area the team has some expertise in: For the past two years, CEO Jon Olick has worked as a consultant with Oculus VR. Voxelnauts will be perfectly playable without a VR headset, but the intent is to have it on <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/oculus-rift/">Oculus Rift</a> and <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/valves-vr-headset-is-named-vive-and-htc-are-making-it/">Vive</a> "at a minimum."</p><p> The Voxelnauts Kickstarter launched on May 17 and has already raised more than $42,000 on a $200,000 goal, a solid start by any measure. The campaign runs until June 20, and more info (although right now it's mostly just a link to the Kickstarter and a mailing list sign-up form) can be had at <a href="http://voxelnauts.com/">voxelnauts.com</a>.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vpFJlityQDqY.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nfx1wW3TEDN5.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Voxelnauts"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Xlj-U-YmTSSM.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gjcndr2lTjYL.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Voxelnauts"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/8muHgUFTRsyA.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BU7Gra0WK80h.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Voxelnauts"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6FMK1oe8TxGZ.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/q_rwXgUMQfTg.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Voxelnauts"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/OX2BaV9YQaWW.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BbmpQraLDhPz.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Voxelnauts"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NlU9SF9rQLW5.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Urjax9RGUNEF.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Voxelnauts"></p> Tell us your PC building horror stories!http://www.pcgamer.com/tell-us-your-pc-building-horror-stories/What's the worst thing that's happened to you while building a PC? Tell us in the comments for a chance to be featured!Wed, 20 May 2015 21:29:25 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/tell-us-your-pc-building-horror-stories/ <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/4JOLCM6vRoeb.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/y6w5DXHHmdbH.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Rig horror stories header"></p><p>Have you forgotten to ground yourself and shorted out your motherboard? Did you hook up your CPU cooler incorrectly and only realize it when smoke started to fill the room? Has your water cooling sprung a leak, leaving your rig to a Titanic fate?</p><p>Building your own PC can be a difficult task, and unfortunate accidents will eventually happen for even the most experienced builders. But the best way to heal is to laugh at our pain, so we want to hear your best (or worst) PC building horror stories. Components destroyed, I/O covers causing stitches, mysterious blue smoke pouring from your case&mdash;whatever it is we want to hear about it. We’ll collect your stories and feature the most tragic ones in an article next week. Here’s how to submit your own:</p><ul> <li>Post your story in the comments below, and don’t spare the gruesome details. If you have a short and sweet tale to tell, that’s fine too, but make sure we get the picture.</li><li>Speaking of pictures, if you have any photos of the accident in action, upload them to a site like <a href="http://imgur.com/">Imgur</a> and post the link in your comment. If you don’t have a picture of flame and smoke, send us a picture of your rig now to show how it all turned out. A picture isn't necessary, but I'm told they're&nbsp;worth a thousand words.</li><li>And finally, upvote and comment on other people’s stories. We won’t be selecting them based solely on upvotes, but it’s important to know if a story resonates with a lot of people. </li></ul><p>And just to be clear, we don’t want to scare anyone away from building a PC. We <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/why-you-should-build-your-own-pc/">still believe</a> that everyone should build their own PC and encourage newcomers to do so. But the best way to learn is by making mistakes, so why not let others make the mistakes for you?&nbsp;</p> Windward reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/windward-review/There's a beautiful sea but not much beneath the surface.Wed, 20 May 2015 20:57:36 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/windward-review/ReviewsRPGWindward <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">need to know</h5> <p> <strong style="background-color: initial;">What is it?</strong> An open-world sailing RPG in a procurally generated world.<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Influenced by:</strong>&nbsp;Sid Meier's Pirates<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Reviewed on:</strong>&nbsp;Windows 7, Intel i7 x980 3.33 GHz, 6 GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 960<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Play it on:</strong> Dual core CPU, 1.4Ghz, 2GB RAM, Intel HD Graphics 4200<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Copy protection</strong>: Steam<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Price</strong>: $15/£11<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Release date</strong>: Out now&nbsp;<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Publisher/Developer</strong>: Tasharen Entertainment Inc.<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Multiplayer</strong>: Yes<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Link</strong>:&nbsp;<a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/326410/">Steam store page</a> </p> </div><p> After my first two hours with&nbsp;Windward, the open-world sailing RPG from Tasharen Entertainment, I had a single thought in my head: is this all there is?&nbsp;After four more hours, I had another thought: if this <em style="background-color: initial;">is </em>all there is, why the hell&nbsp;can't I stop playing it?</p><p> I'm of two minds about nearly every aspect of Windward. I love games I can pick up quickly, and Windward definitely fits that bill. Within&nbsp;a few minutes of playing you'll have entirely grasped the basics of the game. Engage in ship-to-ship combat with pirates and enemy factions, capture towns, sentry posts, and lighthouses (or build your own), turn a profit by transporting cargo or passengers from one port to another, and use those profits to upgrade your ship and crew or buy a bigger, better ship.&nbsp;Sailing is a snap, using either WASD or the mouse, and&nbsp;the space bar to drop anchor. Wind isn't much of a concern: it helps you reach top speed when it's blowing in your favor, but even when it's not you'll keep&nbsp;moving right along.</p><p> Thing is, there's really&nbsp;not much beyond those basics. Every town you visit will have a handful of missions, but these missions are nearly always the same and you'll wind up doing them dozens of times over. In combat, your gunners auto-fire while&nbsp;you and your enemy circle each other, and if you've unlocked special attacks you can use them to shred sails, entangle rigging, or set ships on fire with barrels of flaming grog. Despite dozens of victories and a number of losses, however,&nbsp;I have no memorable stories to tell. One battle feels like the next, and capturing towns only requires bombarding sentry towers and then parking offshore. With simple systems, repetitive tasks, and incremental rewards, Windward feels like a grind from almost the moment you set sail.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LALCZCn_T_2_.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gwwROgz1ANVU.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Windward" class=""> <figcaption>Who wants to check out that shipwreck? I'm sure the sharks are friendly.</figcaption></figure><p> None of that really explains why I can't seem to stop playing it. I can't even really explain it, other than that there's is a sort of enjoyable mindlessness to Windward, a soothing and relaxing routine that I can settle into, letting the hours drift by while my ship carves a familiar&nbsp;path through the sea. Slowly chipping away at enemy territory until you've conquered a new section of the grid is satisfying, and the occasional worthwhile&nbsp;stash of booty found in the open sea can be exciting, but most of what I like is that it's a small series of activities that don't require a lot of effort.</p><p> It certainly doesn't hurt that Windward provides&nbsp;a beautiful little procedurally generated&nbsp;world to spend time in. The sun shimmers off the waves, wisps of clouds drift by overhead, barely visible&nbsp;shipwrecks lurk beneath the water, seagulls and sharks circle your ship, and&nbsp;friendly AI captains shout greetings or offer&nbsp;tips on where best to buy and sell goods. The physics are fun: while attacking land-based towers it's neat&nbsp;to watch your teeny&nbsp;cannonballs roll and rebound against the rocks, and explosions, while tiny, are still&nbsp;glorious. The music and sound effects are great, and the menus and UI are simple to understand and unobtrusive.</p><p> I guess the question is: how simple is too simple? I do appreciate games that don't require the endless&nbsp;scouring of wikis and a doctorate from Minmax University, but it's still&nbsp;hard for me&nbsp;not to wish for a little something deeper&nbsp;in virtually every aspect of Windward. A bit more of a&nbsp;reward for exploration, more&nbsp;interesting features in the worlds you can&nbsp;generate, perhaps a few more options for&nbsp;ship&nbsp;management and a shade more&nbsp;depth to the economy. Even multiplayer didn't feel appreciably different than single-player, there were just more ships sailing around (and a fair bit of lag). Windward is a wonderful&nbsp;setting and worthy framework for a game, but&nbsp;while the&nbsp;ocean is beautiful there isn't much beneath the surface.</p> Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night will have a PC-exclusive betahttp://www.pcgamer.com/bloodstained-ritual-of-the-night-will-have-a-pc-exclusive-beta/The PC beta was announced in the latest Kickstarter update.Wed, 20 May 2015 20:55:12 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/bloodstained-ritual-of-the-night-will-have-a-pc-exclusive-beta/ActionBloodstained: Ritual of the NightKickstarterNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/AIXT53uLR76j.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mp_galKKo5rI.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night"></p><p>The developers of <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/bloodstained-ritual-of-the-night/">Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night</a> have announced that Kickstarter backers who throw at least $60 at the project and opt for the PC version of the game will be able to take part in beta testing on Steam.</p><p>The details haven't been nailed down, but as you'd expect, being in the beta means access to pre-release builds of the game, and the opportunity to help track down bugs and provide feedback to the developers. "It's definitely going to be the biggest group of beta testers Iga has ever worked with, but he and the team are looking forward to your help," the latest <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iga/bloodstained-ritual-of-the-night/posts/1235465">Kickstarter update</a> states.</p><p>In order to gain entry to the beta, you must back the Kickstarter for at least $60, and select a tier that offers the PC version of the game. If you kicked in $60 but chose the PS4 release, for instance, you won't be eligible, but at the $125 tier you could gain access to the beta by choosing the PS4 edition for the physical copy and the PC release on digital. And even though Steam is multiplatform these days, the developers stated that the beta will only run under Windows.</p><p>The Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Kickstarter runs for another 23 days, and has so far raised just shy of $2.5 million. </p> Dying of radiation poisoning in Edge of Spacehttp://www.pcgamer.com/getting-radiation-poisoning-in-edge-of-space/Dealing with radiation,towering mushrooms, and sharks with laser beams onalien planets.Wed, 20 May 2015 19:25:04 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/getting-radiation-poisoning-in-edge-of-space/Early AccessEdge of Space <figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2TRnXeCUSDqk.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/C7WFwdNOO9E6.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The abstract, colorful planet is the most interesting aspect." class=""><figcaption>The abstract, colorful planet is the most interesting aspect.</figcaption></figure><p>The thing I’ll remember most about&nbsp;<a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/238240/" target="_blank">Edge of Space</a> is the beeping. The urgent crackle-thrum of a radiation sensor at max input, screaming about nearby danger. As radiation floods my suit and my health starts to drop, I turn and run. I keep running, but the radiation doesn’t dissipate. I start to die, and the beeping continues.</p><p>Judging an Early Access game is difficult because it is simultaneously done and not done, stable and in flux. It is both what is and what may be. For some games, those two points are pretty close together. For Edge of Space, there’s still a lot of ground to cover to get where it wants to go.</p><p>The setup is familiar: Earth is destroyed, so ships are sent out to discover and terraform new planets. The terraforming ship meets with disaster, and now you (and your friends, if this is a multiplayer adventure) are alone on a sidescrolling, two-dimensional planet full of stuff to harvest. It’s very similar to Terraria, but with a sci-fi edge.</p><p>The game’s strongest asset is its surreal, colorful world. Full of towering mushrooms and sharks with laser beams attached, one-eyed crabs and car-sized frogs. It shows off a wry sense of humor and penchant for ridiculous things, but it’s also a hint of how many weird ideas have been pushed into this game. There’s pets and decorations and armor and plasma guns and plants and flying buzzsaws and on and on. Eventually, the list of things, both serious and silly, included in the game starts to read like a manifesto published by <a href="http://axecop.com/">AxeCop</a>.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/CIAzHYW1QtuR.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ab1yAdxqyQBs.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Meet Fineous, the floating shark with lasers that guides you through the early game. Because why not?" class=""><figcaption>Meet Fineous, the floating shark with lasers that guides you through the early game. Because why not?</figcaption></figure><p>It is fun, though, after a fashion. I don’t have the sense of wonder I got from exploring in Minecraft, but there is satisfaction in carving a home for myself out of the alien dirt, lining it with stone bricks, and filling it with equipment and computer controls for my terraforming project.</p><p>But unlike Minecraft or Terraria, the combat and user interface windows are a real nightmare. With hundreds and hundreds of crafting recipes to sort through and dozens of types of resources to use, I quickly got overwhelmed. I found it hard to wander and explore, collecting as I went, and would instead decide on what I wanted to build, go out and get the ingredients, and come back. That’s one way to do it, of course, but it’s a rhythm that destroyed the pleasures of the open world for me.</p><p>Combat is also wonky and annoying. Enemies gravitate toward me and fly through me, doing damage and coming out the other side, slowing, turning, and coming back for another pass. With multiple enemies on screen at once, the result is a flailing, frustrating mess.</p><p>I see a light at the end of the tunnel for these issues, though, as playing in multiplayer made all of them more tolerable. Friends for backup made combat less of a chore, and the ability to take on special dungeons and world bosses gave me concrete goals I found lacking in singleplayer. When three of us, toting powerful shotguns and advanced suits of armor, rampaged our way through a special dungeon toward a glittering reward, I saw the shape the game that Edge of Space hopes to be eventually.</p><h2>Roadmaps</h2><p>The real problem with Edge of Space in its current state, though, is a lack of guidance. I frequently tried to follow crafting recipes that referenced a resource I had never found, and had no idea where to find it or what it might look like. After an hour of searching, I finally found the resources I needed to craft a command node, the central CPU hub for my new base. I placed it and discovered it didn’t work; it wasn’t placed the right way. What was the right way? I have no idea. It was a big let-down after all the work I did to make it. It was an accomplishment I didn’t get to enjoy.</p><p>Now we return to the beeping: After spelunking for a long time in a generally downward direction, I dropped down to an open field on a lower level of the planet. My radiation meter, which up to that moment I didn’t know existed, filled up and started warning me that I was near something dangerous. I turned and ran away from a mysterious looking rock, assuming it was the source of the radiation. </p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RKvjTGdMQNmE.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Y5w7MPCD59mS.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Especially bad in dark caves, combat is confusing and frustrating." class=""><figcaption>Especially bad in dark caves, combat is confusing and frustrating.</figcaption></figure><p>As I ran, I started to die and respawn, working my way through my respawn tickets. I died and ran, ran and died. After running for several minutes, I decided that the entire planet below a certain altitude must be radioactive, and my only hope was to go back up. I never made it, eventually respawning at my original drop pod, miles from my fledgling base. The game’s basic tutorial had never mentioned radiation, and I had no idea why an entire continent of the planet would be inhospitable to life. My dwindling urge to explore got a little smaller still.</p><p>But, this is Early Access. A lack of guidance now doesn’t mean a lack of guidance later. However,&nbsp;Edge of Space still feels like an early beta build after two years of work on Steam. Though the team is dedicated, friendly, and beloved by the team’s vigorous fanbase, I wonder how much longer it might be until it&nbsp;shapes up. It&nbsp;receives monthly updates, but it seems that overall progress is quite slow.</p><p>I don’t recommend checking out Edge of Space just yet, but I am hopeful that it will find a rhythm for itself eventually, a balance between allowing discovery and providing clear directions about its rules. There are&nbsp;a lot of great ideas here (and a lot of great writing), but they’re still forming. Because they're&nbsp;forming slowly, caution seems to be the best approach.</p> Jujubee reveals Kursk, a survival game based on the Russian sub disasterhttp://www.pcgamer.com/jujubee-reveals-kursk-a-survival-game-based-on-the-russian-sub-disaster/Kursk promises to blend first-person action with a "carefully crafted story."Wed, 20 May 2015 18:33:07 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/jujubee-reveals-kursk-a-survival-game-based-on-the-russian-sub-disaster/AdventureKurskNewsSurvival <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Au4_3ZwQy2g?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> The Kursk was a nuclear-powered Russian submarine that was <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kursk_submarine_disaster">lost with all hands</a> in the year 2000 as the result of an explosion caused by a faulty training torpedo. That disaster will be the setting for a first-person survival-adventure game by the same name, announced today by developer <a href="http://jujubee.pl/">Jujubee</a>.</p><p> Little has been revealed about the game beyond the teaser, but the studio said the game will look at the tragedy "from a new angle," and be built around a "carefully-crafted story." Given the many questions surrounding the loss of the sub and crew, and the delays in rescue and recovery efforts, it's certainly fertile ground for fictionalization&mdash;if rather&nbsp;grim given the recentness of the tragedy.</p><p> "Kursk will definitely be a game for mature audiences looking for a unique and cinematic experience," Jujubee CEO Michal Stepien said. "There is still controversy surrounding the real fate of this Russian submarine and with our game we hope to raise and answer some questions".</p><p> No release target has been announced, but a website is up at <a href="http://kurskthegame.com/">Kurskthegame.com</a>.</p> Tabletop Simulator set to leave Early Access in Junehttp://www.pcgamer.com/tabletop-simulator-set-to-leave-early-access-in-june/A little over a year after it came out on Early Access, Tabletop Simulator has a proper release date.Wed, 20 May 2015 17:37:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/tabletop-simulator-set-to-leave-early-access-in-june/NewssimTabletop Simulator <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JBqernEHjUc?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> <a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/286160">Tabletop Simulator</a> is just what it sounds like: A simulated table, atop which you can play virtual versions of real-world games. It comes with 15 classics, like chess, poker, and dominoes, as well as an RPG kit with animated figurines, and players can create and share their own games via the Steam Workshop. There's even an option, as demonstrated by extremely&nbsp;popular YouTuber Tyler Wilde, to <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riDK_0pNrT4">flip the table</a>.</p><p> Tabletop Simulator hit Steam Early Access in April of 2014&mdash;we <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/early-access-report-infinite-space-3-sea-of-stars-glitchspace-and-tabletop-simulator/">took a look</a> at it not long after it went live&mdash;and yesterday the developers at Berserk Games <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/games/TabletopSimulator/announcements/detail/218767367128234933">announced</a> that it will go into full release on June 5. But that won't mean the end of development, as the studio still plans to implement VR support, a Space Theme Pack, a mobile version, and other features and fixes that will inevitably prove necessary.</p><p> The studio also announced a deal to develop <a href="http://www.superfightgame.com/pages/frontpage">Superfight</a>, a card game about battles between fictional superheroes created by Robert Kirkman's Skybound Entertainment, into official Tabletop Simulator DLC. "The entire Skybound team is thrilled to expand the universe of Superfight with Tabletop Simulator," Skybound Interactive President Dan Murray said. "We look forward to seeing Superfight live in the digital world for years to come."</p><p> Tabletop Simulator is still available on Early Access for $15/£11, but will bounce to $20/£15 at launch. The Superfight DLC will sell for $10/£7, and will also be available on June 5.</p> The Witcher 3 performance tips and crash advicehttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-performance-tips-and-crash-advice/The best ways to improve your framerate and solve common problems.Wed, 20 May 2015 17:15:17 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-performance-tips-and-crash-advice/RPGThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VLd44u7JQvKP.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6imaCmaytDiI.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher3 2015-05-18 20-22-20-14"></p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-everything-you-need-to-know/">The Witcher 3</a> is here. We’re playing it. You’re probably playing it. Or thinking about playing it. Or thinking about Geralt’s smouldering eyes and luscious beard. Or, perhaps, you’ve been frustratingly trying to deal with low framerates or game crashes. We’ve got some tips to help with those.</p><p>Our Witcher 3 experience has been very smooth so far on a variety of systems. I’ve only encountered one crash, running on an Intel i5-2500K CPU and a GTX 980 graphics card. Performance has also been good (but varied) between an older AMD 7950, an Nvidia GTX 980, and an Nvidia GTX Titan X. The GTX 980 can run The Witcher 3 at a solid 60 FPS with nearly every setting turned to Ultra, but at 1440p the framerate sits around the 40-50 fps range. But I’ve also seen the crashing issues other gamers have run into, and have collected a few potential fixes to those problems.</p><p>We have an in-depth technical analysis of The Witcher 3 coming later this week. But for now, this article will cover two topics. First, some quick tips for maintaining a higher framerate: The Witcher 3 has a ton of graphics options, and tweaking a few of them can make the difference between a middling 45 fps and a solid 60. Second, some observations about Witcher 3 crashing problems and some potential solutions.</p><h3>Tweaks for those precious frames per second</h3><p>The obvious first: if you have an Nvidia graphics card, update to the latest drivers through the GeForce Experience. AMD hasn’t released a driver optimized for The Witcher 3 yet, but Nvidia’s latest driver includes Witcher 3 optimizations.</p><p><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;Turn Foliage Visibility Range down by one step</strong>. If you’re playing on high, set it to medium; if you’re on ultra, set it to high. This can increase your framerate by a solid 10 fps. While standing on a high peak, I turned Foliage Visibility Range from Ultra down to High and didn’t even notice a difference in what was being rendered. My framerate immediately improved by almost 10 fps. And once I started moving around, that framerate improvement fluctuated from about 7-15 fps higher than it was with Foliage Visibility Range on Ultra. It’s a trade-off well worth taking.</p><figure><a href="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/XpaLAQNVReWc.png" target="_blank"><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/XpaLAQNVReWc.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PLH7TPIf9f7E.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 3 Foliage Visibility Comparison" class=""></a> <figcaption>Left: Foliage range ultra. Right: Foliage range high.</figcaption></figure><p><strong>&mdash;</strong>&nbsp;<strong>Turn off Nvidia HairWorks</strong>. If you’re using an Nvidia graphics card, turning this setting off can give you another 5-10 frames per second. We’ve been playing with it on and off, and we don’t think there’s much to miss here. The tessellation of HairWorks is especially demanding on older Nvidia cards, but even on a GTX 980 we noticed an across-the-board 5-10 fps dip with HairWorks enabled, even with just Geralt on screen. Nvidia’s own benchmarks with two Titan X GPUs in SLI running at 4K show a 15-20 fps difference between Hairworks enabled/disabled. And while <a href="http://international.download.nvidia.com/geforce-com/international/comparisons/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-nvidia-hairworks-interactive-comparison-2-on-vs-off.html">you can see a pretty big difference on certain beasts</a>, we don’t think Geralt’s hair looks that great even with HairWorks enabled. Sorry, Geralt&mdash;a fancier hairdo isn’t worth 10 fps.</p><p><strong>&mdash;</strong>&nbsp;<strong>Turn down Shadow Quality</strong>. If you’re still reaching for 60 with Foliage Visibility turned down and HairWorks disabled, setting shadows to high or medium </p><p>Finally, you can always overclock your graphics card to increase performance. If your card didn’t come with a factory overclock, and you’ve never overclocked before, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-overclock-your-graphics-card/">follow our overclocking guide.</a> This could get you another 10-15% performance. If you start experiencing crashes after overclocking, Witcher 3 is probably pushing your card’s power limits or temperatures too hard. Dial back the overclock until it’s stable.</p><h3>Tips for Witcher 3 crashes and issues</h3><p>We’ve seen Witcher 3 performance reports vary as much as you’d expect for a giant open world game. Some players are cruising along with no issues, while others are running into regular, frustrating crashes. Here are a few early solutions we can off to some of the problems we’ve seen reported.</p><p><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;Sluggish or erratic mouse controls?</strong> In the graphics options, enable Hardware Cursor. This will use RawInput from your mouse, and will hopefully correct any issues you’re having with the mouse cursor.</p><p><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;Switch from Borderless Windowed to Fullscreen</strong>. The Witcher 3 defaults to Borderless Windowed, which can make it easier to Tab in and out of a game. Switching to fullscreen, though, may fix a number of issues. If you’re experiencing stuttering, crashes, have a multi-monitor setup or SLI graphics cards, switch to fullscreen. It may solve your problems.</p><p><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;Disable as many background applications as you can</strong>&mdash;it’s possible something doesn’t play nice with The Witcher 3 and is causing some crashes. If the game is more stable as a result, you can use process of elimination to find the culprit.</p><p><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;Stuttering or unsatisfying performance during cutscenes</strong><strong>?</strong> Locate the visuals.ini file in The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt\bin\config\base folder. Open the file with notepad and change MovieFramerate=30 to MovieFramerate=60. You may need to change the ubersampling value to false if performance can’t keep up.</p><p>Still experiencing crashes or lackluster performance? You may need to roll back drivers. Some users and benchmarks have claimed that Nvidia’s 700-series GPUs are performing unusually poorly in The Witcher 3. Reverting to an older driver may net you better performance, even if it’s not optimized for The Witcher 3.</p><p>Further driver and game updates will undoubtedly improve performance and stability for The Witcher 3, but for now, these are the easiest changes you can make to keep the game running smoothly.</p><p>Have some tips of your own to dispense? Having problems that none of these tips solve? Post in the comments, and other players may be able to help you out with their own tweaks.</p> Virtual rainstormshttp://www.pcgamer.com/virtual-rainstorms/The subtle pleasure of a virtual rainstorm.Wed, 20 May 2015 16:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/virtual-rainstorms/Blade RunnerGrand Theft Auto 5Mafia IIMetal Gear Solid V: The Phantom PainWhy I Love <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bj3V9DrIRZO-.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ksjniSZQuxA9.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Blade Runner rain 2" style="background-color: initial;"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Why I Love</h5> <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YpdYIFA5ROO_.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_u9BpEqaqpnZ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Trucks"></p><p> In <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, Phil and Tom discuss the romantic gloom of a good downpour. </p> </div><p> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Tom:</strong> Rain in games is amazing. So amazing that this week we’ve decided to double-team the topic, because two hot takes are better than one! I love rain because it can instantly change the mood of a game world. Done well, the hushed roar of a heavy downfall changes the entire soundscape, creates a universe of motion in rippling puddles underfoot and throws a glistening corona around sharp light sources like street lamps and neon signs. When a storm starts in GTA 5 I suddenly come over all melancholic, and have the sudden urge to walk slowly down the streets in a trenchcoat. I’ve found it’s better to just go with it when that happens.</p><p> <strong>Phil:</strong> That's the great thing about rain. It's a mood weather, but a subtle one. It's not as beautiful as snow, or as dramatic as lightning. Instead, it evokes a feeling of isolation and otherness. It closes the world in, and creates a barrier between you and everyone else. Rain is introspective. As you soak up the atmosphere in Los Santos, the pedestrians around you are huddling under archways or covering their heads. They're reacting the way regular people do; the way a protagonist never would. For them, rain is an annoyance.</p><p> <strong>Tom:</strong> That’s the thing, in the real world the sogginess gets in the way of the romance. Games solve that problem, and tend to feature the most picturesque rain you can imagine. Here in Britain, rain is accompanied by what I like to call Total Grey. It’s like someone’s messed with the colour correction and sapped all of the joy out of the streets. In games I get to experience thick, reflective tropical rain, and proper thunderstorms. The way rain affects surfaces in games also just fills the world with more detail. I love watching Geralt’s armour glisten as the trees whip back and forth all around him in The Witcher 3. I love the way lightning flashes illuminate every raindrop in GTA 5. I love the way rain distorts the smoky neon signs in Satellite Reign.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_mSpuE4vSm-p.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/g-pPYgQaKBUr.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="MGS rain"></p><p> <strong>Phil:</strong> It's not just aesthetic, either, Rain can completely change the feeling and challenge of a game. Driving games are excellent for this. Euro Truck Simulator 2's rain pours down in thick globs that smash against the windscreen. It's beautiful in a cold, dreary way, but also offers the thrill of not being able to see more than a foot in front of the giant metal box that you're steering. In Dirt: Rally, the rain churns up pools of hazardous mud. It's a rare game that can make you appreciate the allure of the Welsh countryside and threaten to send you spinning out at a hairpin bend.</p><p> <strong>Tom:</strong> Mud! We should do one of these about brilliant gaming mud&mdash;STAY TUNED FOR THAT, DEAR READERS. Let’s lay it out there, then. Which games have the very best rain?</p><p> <strong>Phil:</strong> For me, it's the Metal Gear Solid series. Ground Zeroes features one of the most detailed realisations of rain in gaming, and implements it in a way that does wonders for the atmosphere and mood. Kojima has always had an eye for good rain. I wrote about Metal Gear Solid 2's tanker chapter in the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/why-i-love-stealth-on-ships/">very first Why I Love</a>. The rain was a big part of what made that special. It had personality, too. Spend too long in the rain, and Snake could catch a cold&mdash;sneezing as he hid around corners or crept up on guards.</p><p> <strong>Tom:</strong> Good shout. I’ll champion Mafia 2’s rain, because of the aforementioned moody trenchcoat thing. Westwood’s Blade Runner has great rain, too. Even indoors you can hear it coming down endlessly. It’s a vital part of the hardboiled private eye motif, but also unnaturally relentless&mdash;a constant reminder that the planet’s environment is fundamentally broken.</p> The Evil Within: The Executioner trailer shows first-person slashinghttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-evil-within-the-executioner-trailer-shows-first-person-slashing/Is the final add-on playing it safe?Wed, 20 May 2015 15:49:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-evil-within-the-executioner-trailer-shows-first-person-slashing/NewsThe Evil Within <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zVRXh--9mME" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>The Evil Within's third DLC&nbsp;stars The Keeper, and, as such, I was really tempted to do a "play it safe" joke. Thing is,&nbsp;I'm not sure if The Executioner is playing it safe or not. On the one hand, it does away with the over-the-shoulder camera of the main game in favour of a first-person view. On the other, it's an arena add-on&mdash;a series of battlegrounds in which you thwack and slash at various enemies.</p><p>There will, however, be some story in the mix. "Initially armed with The Keeper’s signature hammer," explains the trailer's description,&nbsp;"players will fight against a host of The Evil Within’s iconic villains to earn new weapons and upgrades. Set in the Manor House of the Victoriano Estate, The Executioner features first-person melee combat combined with exploration and discovery as players unearth the story of a man forced to become The Keeper."</p><p>The Executioner is out on May 26.</p> Banned H1Z1 cheaters may be allowed back, if they publicly apologisehttp://www.pcgamer.com/banned-h1z1-cheaters-may-be-allowed-back-if-they-publicly-apologise/John Smedley will consider letting cheaters back, but only if they upload a public apology to YouTube.Wed, 20 May 2015 14:45:45 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/banned-h1z1-cheaters-may-be-allowed-back-if-they-publicly-apologise/H1Z1NewsSurvival <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vrXyX0ItRveV.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/M2I6vJ2nOetg.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="H1Z1"></p><p>A couple of days ago,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/nearly-25000-h1z1-players-banned-for-cheating/" target="_blank">24,837 H1Z1 cheaters were banned</a>, en masse, from the game. According to Daybreak president John Smedley, the bans have since prompted many cheaters to&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/j_smedley/status/600857223087067136">confess to and apologise for</a> using cheats. In a series of tweets, Smedley explained that, before he'll even consider lifting a ban, the apologetic&nbsp;cheater must go a step further.</p><p>"If you want us to even consider your apology,"&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/j_smedley/status/600857376195878913" target="_blank">Smedley wrote</a>,&nbsp;"a public YouTube apology is necessary. No personal information please. Email me the link."&nbsp;</p><p>Smedley stressed that the apologies should&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/j_smedley/status/600858206454218752" target="_blank">contain no personal info</a>, and also that they&nbsp;should be directed&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/j_smedley/status/600871414002921473" target="_blank">at&nbsp;fellow players</a>, and not Daybreak. "Although you hurt our business this is about them not us."</p><p>A few hours ago, Smedley tweeted the first such apology.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gtYxFKDfN48" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>"Going to be honest,"&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/j_smedley/status/601006620013760514" target="_blank">Smedley wrote</a>,&nbsp;"I wish it wasn't about the money, but he's first and that means something."</p> Martial arts MMO Blade & Soul coming to the Westhttp://www.pcgamer.com/martial-arts-mmo-blade-soul-coming-to-the-west/If you love MMOs the dreamy, floaty martial arts style of movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, you'll want to check out Blade Soul.Wed, 20 May 2015 13:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/martial-arts-mmo-blade-soul-coming-to-the-west/Blade & SoulMMO <iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/NR2b-sF1_os" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> If you love MMOs the dreamy, floaty martial arts style of movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, you'll want to check out Blade &amp; Soul.</p><p> Today, NCSoft announced that almost three years after launching in South Korea and rolling out to the rest of Asia, it's bringing the free-to-play Blade &amp; Soul to Europe and North America, starting with a closed beta this fall and a commercial release this winter.</p><p> It's been a&nbsp;while since I played an MMO (World of Warcraft was my poison of choice), and while Blade &amp; Soul differentiated itself in some interesting ways during my short time with an early localized build, not much has changed since the last time I talked to an NPC with an exclamation point over his head. I get quests, I explore big open spaces sprinkled with fantastical beasts, and I click them to death until someone wants to give me a reward.</p><p> The clicking, at least, is interesting, even if it stays&nbsp;within the confines of the genre. I was still choosing icons from a toolbar which represented different attacks, but the icons changed contextually depending on my attacks, allowing me to chain them into combos.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2pT7I5STT0Sw.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bMWPJ3aUGuAw.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Blade &amp; Soul_019"></p><p> As the Summoner class, for example, I use a couple of melee attacks until an icon pops up, allowing me to initiate a stasis attack that holds the enemy (some Island of Dr. Moreau rhino-toad in this instance) in the air like a Jedi. I then have the option to either toss him in the air or set him on fire, and as I level up and learn more skills, I'll have more options that will lead to different combos.</p><p> It's basically the same old combat system, but by breaking up my character's toolbar into a branching step-by-step process, fighting felt more dynamic and fast-paced than waiting for a long row cooldown meters.</p><p> Moving through the environment was more interesting than it is in most MMOs, especially in the early game. Minutes after rolling a new character, I could sprint and glide through the air like the heroes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I didn't need to save up for a mount before I could haul ass, which is a huge relief, and there are more traversal skills to learn as you level up, such as&nbsp;mid-air dashing and diving down on enemies.</p><p> This greater mobility is necessary since Blade &amp; Soul's environments are huge and vertical. Exploring strange lands is one of my favorite things about MMOs, and jumping off cliffs, gliding down alongside waterfalls, then getting back up via launchpads that initiate more cool traversal animations made that part of Blade &amp; Soul exciting.&nbsp;</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PvQA6Ur3QKOw.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qiLZSS-LsSti.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Blade &amp; Soul_010"></p><p> Blade &amp; Soul also has a different approach to character appearance. It has a dauntingly deep character creation tool (I don't know what "mouth tail" means, but you can bet your butt there's a slider for it) and what you wear doesn't represent your gear's stats. Instead, your stats come from your&nbsp;weapon and eight "soul shield" pieces that are invisible to players, and your appearance comes from costumes that have no stat properties.</p><p> I like this idea because it lets me choose what you want to look like and not be forced into fashion suicide because an ugly pair of shoulders have incredible DPS. On the other hand, this means you can't really tell someone is a badass just by what they're wearing, which is one of the most interesting hooks in sharing an RPG world with strangers.</p><p> It's not a deal breaker, but nothing I saw of Blade &amp; Soul convinced me to dive into a new MMO either. It convinced many others, though. Over 1.5 million concurrent players jumped on Blade &amp; Soul as soon as it launched in China, almost 8,000 players already signed a petition to bring it to North America, and NCSoft told me that thousands more have been waiting for Western release.</p><p> If you're one of them, congrats. If you're just shopping for a new MMO, it looks like NCSoft is taking the localization effort seriously, with hours of English voice acting and gameplay tweaks. And while NCSoft hasn't discussed specific monetization strategies yet, it'll cost you nothing but time to try it.&nbsp;</p> War Thunder devs announce post-apocalyptic vehicle combat MMOhttp://www.pcgamer.com/war-thunder-devs-announce-post-apocalyptic-vehicle-combat-mmo/Crossout asks you to craft, ride and destroy.Wed, 20 May 2015 12:13:55 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/war-thunder-devs-announce-post-apocalyptic-vehicle-combat-mmo/NewsWar Thunder <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mgHMib-WSceW.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/u9e0Nwciiwoq.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Crossout2"></p><p>War Thunder developer Gaijin Entertainment has announced that they're co-making&mdash;alongside&nbsp;Targem Games&mdash;a new post-apocalyptic vehicle combat MMO. It's called Crossout, and it's about building, upgrading and customising spike-laden, armoured vehicles, and then&nbsp;using them to battle other players.</p><p>Crossout promises extreme customisation, with&nbsp;the ability to build anything from small buggies to heavy off-road trucks. "Crossout gives players thousands of possibilities to design their vehicle, including shape, armor, weapons, support systems and, of course, cosmetic enhancements," explains the press release.&nbsp;</p><p>There are weapons, of course. Chainsaws, power drills,&nbsp;machine guns, rocket launchers, flying drones and stealth generators are all mentioned.</p><p>Not mentioned:&nbsp;the&nbsp;long, bendy sticks they had in Mad Max: Fury Road. They were pretty useful.</p><p>Beta testing for Crossout is&nbsp;due to start in the summer. To register your interest, head over to the&nbsp;<a href="http://crossout.net/en" target="_blank">Crossout official site</a>.</p> Guild Wars 2's capital city is being rebuilthttp://www.pcgamer.com/guild-wars-2s-capital-city-is-being-rebuilt/Lion's Arch is getting a new look, and players can help name the new districts.Wed, 20 May 2015 10:13:37 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/guild-wars-2s-capital-city-is-being-rebuilt/ArenaNetGuild Wars 2MMONews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/T8q8CNMDTYep.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/X1cpQpX6sycg.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="fbbb3LA1"></p><p> It was over a year ago that Guild Wars 2's capital city, Lion's Arch,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/guild-wars-2-interview-the-fall-of-lions-arch/" target="_blank">was destroyed</a> as part of the Living World storyline. Since then, a group of&nbsp;NPCs have constantly hammered at the same spots in the hope that a city would magically re-appear. Amazingly, it seems to have worked. As part of yesterday's otherwise minor Guild Wars 2 patch, scaffolding has sprung up around the city. In addition, ArenaNet has unveiled their plan for a brand&nbsp;new Lion's Arch.</p><p> "The plan of the city leaders is not to attempt to fully restore the landmark as it once was, but rather to implement an enhanced design that will more realistically serve the Tyria of today,"&nbsp;<a href="https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/lions-arch-construction-nears-completion-new-player-poll-announced/" target="_blank">writes ArenaNet's Gaile Gray</a>.</p><p>To recognise the change in design, various districts and landmarks are being renamed. ArenaNet is giving its players the chance to help name these locations&mdash;albeit only by&nbsp;<a href="https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5B7WMBF" target="_blank">picking from a list</a> of pre-selected options.</p><p>ArenaNet says the rebuilt city will be ready in the&nbsp;"next few months". Below, you can find some screenshots of the building work as it currently stands.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QwZonEYQTcir.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HhasFGlFwI1j.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Gw010"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ZANYuKsUQNSe.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ltAXme4AUrjE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Gw012"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2STBeFkQSuqd.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tiHaRBXUvXRj.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Gw014"></p> Power Drive 2000 is an '80s inspired arcade racerhttp://www.pcgamer.com/power-drive-2000-is-an-80s-inspired-arcade-racer/Far Cry: Blood Dragon meets Drift Stage.Wed, 20 May 2015 03:42:44 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/power-drive-2000-is-an-80s-inspired-arcade-racer/KickstarterNewsRacing <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/wZFM_92sR2Gh.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/C16hf4t5vn6V.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Powerdrive"></p><p>Power Drive 2000 looks like a cross between&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/far-cry-3-blood-dragon-review/">Far Cry: Blood Dragon</a> and another recently&nbsp;Kickstarted racer,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/drift-stage-reaches-kickstarter-target/">Drift Stage</a>. The first reference point is the most important though, because the most striking thing about Power Drive 2000 is its beautiful, chrome-hued 1980s sci-fi aesthetic. One part Tron and one part Isaac Asimov paperback cover, it's mesmerising and nostalgic.</p><p>It's a game too, of course. You race a "technologically advanced" sports car through a selection of minimal environments, with six game modes to choose from. All are pretty standard: apart from the vanilla race mode there's a Collector mode, which tasks with driving over diamonds; Outrun mode, which sprinkles hazards throughout the track and has a police helicopter pursuing you; Vaporizer mode, which punishes with instadeath if you plough into the walls, and Gauntlet mode: a procedurally generated offering. Best of all there's a&nbsp;Turbo mode offering&nbsp;unlimited boosts, which is what I'll be playing, thank you very much.</p><p>The&nbsp;<a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1420158244/power-drive-2000/video_share?ref=video">Kickstarter page is over here</a>. Studio Megacom Games has racked up just over&nbsp;$11,000 of its $45,000 goal, with 14 days left in the campaign.</p><p>Here's footage:</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/r1LU0NGCVHQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> Kalimba reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/kalimba-review/A successful blend of puzzle and twitch-oriented platforming.Tue, 19 May 2015 23:57:02 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/kalimba-review/KalimbaMicrosoft StudiosPlatformer <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">NEED TO KNOW</h5> <p> <strong>What is it?</strong>&nbsp;Pleasant puzzle platformer, but not too puzzle-y.<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Influenced by</strong> Outland, Kirby<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Reviewed on</strong>&nbsp;Intel Core i7-4800MQ, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 870M / 3GB GDDR<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Alternatively</strong> Ibb and Obb<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Copy protection</strong> Steam<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Expect to pay</strong> $10 /&nbsp;£7 <br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Release</strong> Out now<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Developer</strong>&nbsp;Press Play<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Publisher</strong> Microsoft Studios<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Multiplayer</strong> 2 player coop<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Link&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://pressplay.dk/games/kalimba/">Official site</a> </p> </div><p> Somewhere in the world there’s a person capable of completing Mega Man X and Mega Man X2 concurrently, using the same controller, in less than three hours. I’m not kidding: the <a href="https:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COGmRYA-eV4">footage is here</a>, and it’s very tedious to watch. Kalimba takes the concept and makes it fun, cheerful, and only occasionally tedious.</p><p> Kalimba’s premise is simple. You’re in charge of two small totems tasked with fending off some vague impending doom. A towering, all-important totem has been destroyed by an evil force, and it needs to be rebuilt with pieces found at the end of each level. Master a level and you’re rewarded with a special, ornate totem&mdash;basically a badge of honour&mdash;whereas poor performance gives you an ugly old log. Either way, you pass the level and move to the next, but it’s hard to resist the pull of creating the prettiest painted figure possible by nailing a perfect run.</p><p> The levels are straightforward enough at first: direct your two characters all the way to the end of the level and don’t fall into any of the evil black sludge. Problem is, in early levels both totems have their own route and obstacles, and if one dies the other does too. It feels like playing two breezy platformers at once, and it’s pleasantly daunting to vouch for two characters.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/JeVA7oM1Ssen.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3njW0n9NZg9D.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="2015-05-19 00005" class=""> <figcaption>Early levels, like the above, are challenging yet relaxing. Don't be fooled.</figcaption></figure><p> And that’s a great idea for a 2D platformer&mdash;who needs more?&mdash;except there’s a lot more to Kalimba. Danish studio Press Play goes to great lengths to dig up every conundrum possible in the scenario: sometimes your totems will collaborate, at other times they’ll tag team in mini-escort missions, while at other times you’ll wish one of them would stop being so needy and die.</p><p> In most cases it’s impossible to move one totem without also moving the other, but you can switch between the totems and use the environment to manipulate their position in relation to each other. Sometimes you’ll need one purple totem to chaperone a blue totem through purple goop, and vice versa. New challenges and approaches are served up at a steady clip, and it’s a cleverly paced platformer in the way it immediately capitalises on the player’s mastery of a new technique, layering on ideas until the game no longer resembles a typical left-to-right platformer.</p><h3><strong>With Teeth</strong></h3><p> It’s a game with a lot of ideas, but it’s not overly cerebral. Kalimba finds a nice balance between static problem solving and fast-paced, reflex-oriented running. The graphics&mdash;crisp, colourful, triangular mosaics&mdash;are delightfully readable, and while environments tend to feel a bit repetitive, the levels are defined by their unique obstacles, not by whether they’re set in a cave or a forest. You’ll launch your totems from cannons, guide them through hordes of gliding baddies, and invert gravity. Kalimba sometimes feels like a rhythm game because when it’s played well, it’s a zen-like, trance-inducing experience.</p><p>Due warning though: as with most modern platformers, Kalimba isn’t reluctant to drop its cheerful veneer at times. It has a reasonable difficulty curve, but there are occasions towards the end where the game’s puzzle and twitch persuasions clash in some infuriating ways. Later levels feature a totem capable of both gliding and acting as a suspended platform for its buddy, and coordinating these abilities, while keeping each totem safe from black sludge and floating masks, feels like untying a knot pulled tight in your brain. These end stages of Kalimba are punishing, so make a precautionary dentist booking if you plan on giving it a go, and especially if you want all the collectibles. Picking them up isn’t the problem, but keeping them is, as every death docks them from your total.</p><p>But don’t be intimidated: the skillsets needed are well-established when the challenges come thick and fast, and checkpoints are charitably dotted throughout each level. It’s not an easy game, but nor does it deserve a place among the likes of Super Meat Boy, N+, or Volgarr The Viking.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/8WNMi0MzSE-n.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Pl_uqEx1N0Tw.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="2015-05-14 00001" class=""> <figcaption>Looks pleasant, but this is among the most infuriating moments in the game.&nbsp;</figcaption></figure><p>Kalimba’s cooperative mode is one of its strongest offerings, and by necessity it boasts its own level set independent of the core single player experience. These focus more on collaborative puzzle solving rather than high speed maneuvers, and as far as couch platformers go it’s among the best I’ve played recently for PC. </p><p>There are frustrations, though. Kalimba’s challenge levels&mdash;accessed by barely hidden portals throughout the levels&mdash;are weirdly unsatisfying. They task you with acquiring a certain number of icons before reaching the end, but these icons respawn and the levels are rarely actually challenging. In an otherwise lean, focused game, they feel unnecessary and boring. Meanwhile, the boss battles aren’t especially taxing, but they feel like obligations rather than neat twists on the game’s formula.</p><p>But as someone who’s a bit fed up with puzzle platformers (give me more lightning speed, reflex-oriented games like Ori or Super Meat Boy) I was surprised by Kalimba. Platformers have always been good at making me feel hopeless one moment and adept the next, and the genre has lately been fond of openly subverting its own rules to these ends. Kalimba does both, but its sun faded colours and personable demeanour make even the toughest losses feel oddly graceful.</p> Heroes of the Storm is now in open betahttp://www.pcgamer.com/heroes-of-the-storm-is-now-in-open-beta/The launch of the open beta means it's time for a new Heroes of the Storm trailer.Tue, 19 May 2015 23:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/heroes-of-the-storm-is-now-in-open-beta/BlizzardHeroes of the StormMOBANews <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/uKlQ-vKVUW8?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> Blizzard has released a new <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/heroes-of-the-storm/">Heroes of the Storm</a> trailer to mark the game's long-awaited entry into open beta.</p><p> Heroes of the Storm has been in <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/heroes-of-the-storm-closed-beta-starts-this-week-check-out-the-additions-here/">closed beta</a> since January, and in early June it will fling its doors open to the world, but in the meantime we'll have a couple of weeks to enjoy that hazy space in-between we call "open beta." What that means is that you may now pop over to <a href="http://www.heroesofthestorm.com">Heroesofthestorm.com</a>, grab the client, and play to your heart's content, without needing anyone's special say-so. But there are one or two caveats.&nbsp;</p><p>"Kindly keep in mind that Open Beta is still not final release, and we will be closely monitoring the game to ensure a positive play experience for everyone," Blizzard wrote. "Should one-too-many brawlers try to cram through the Nexus Portal at once, you may encounter a queue when attempting to log in to the client. Not to worry, however, as the wait should be brief, and you’ll be back to crushing opponents in no time."</p><p> Blizzard also announced that the launch of the game will be preceded by a <a href="http://us.battle.net/heroes/en/blog/19035566">live event</a> held in London, UK, on June 1. The show will feature interviews with developers, appearances by "guests from the world of gaming," and live music, and will of course be livestreamed as well. Find out more about what's going on, and how you might be a part of it, at <a href="http://www.nexuscalling.com/">NexusCalling.com</a>.</p> Nearly 25,000 H1Z1 players banned for cheatinghttp://www.pcgamer.com/nearly-25000-h1z1-players-banned-for-cheating/Daybreak President John Smedley says the company will be "relentless and public" against cheaters.Tue, 19 May 2015 22:56:36 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/nearly-25000-h1z1-players-banned-for-cheating/Daybreak Game CompanyH1Z1John SmedleyNewsSurvival <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ctrKpykLR1uq.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0HRm2UYdS5TB.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="H1Z1"></p><p>Perhaps taking a cue from <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/blizzard-bans-more-than-100000-world-of-warcraft-accounts/">Blizzard</a>, Daybreak Game Company President John Smedley recently revealed on Twitter than nearly 25,000 <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/h1z1/">H1Z1</a> players have been clobbered with the banhammer for cheating. He then went a little beyond what normally comes out of such announcements, referring to the site supplying the cheats as "cockroaches" who need to be put out of business.</p><p>After <a href="https://twitter.com/j_smedley/status/600367466200477696">tweeting</a> yesterday that "24,837 have been banned for cheating," Smedley followed up today with an unexpected, and obviously unserious, exhortation to cheaters to continue doing their thing. "Please keep using and supporting TMCHEATS," he <a href="https://twitter.com/j_smedley/status/600684197485805568">wrote</a>. "We aren't banning users who use it at all."</p><p>But when users questioned his apparent support of the TMCheats site, and the wisdom of provoking people who use it, he took a much less lighthearted approach. "You don't think we know these cockroaches? We do. We are going to be relentless and public. Screw not provoking them," he <a href="https://twitter.com/j_smedley/status/600690941775613953">warned</a>. "As a proud PC gamer that site and others like it disgust me and we collectively need to put them out of business." </p><p>He was equally unequivocal when someone pointed out that the number of banned players added up to nearly $500,000 in revenue, <a href="https://twitter.com/j_smedley/status/600690093163094016">replying</a>, "I'm saying we don't want their damn money. We don't want them back."</p><p>Smedley didn't specify which cheats in particular had led to the bans, but the TMCheats site offers a number of H1Z1 hacks and cheats including aimbots, instant-kill weapons, the ability to shoot through walls, eliminate weapon recoil, and avoid falling damage, and of course various anti-cheating countermeasures. Not the sorts of thing, in other words, that are likely to make a game about surviving in a zombie-infested wasteland a whole lot of fun for other players.</p><p>We spoke with Smedley earlier this month about Daybreak Game Company, H1Z1, and what the future without Sony might look like. Read it <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/daybreak-president-john-smedley-talks-h1z1-and-leaving-sony/">here</a>.</p> Gearbox and 3D Realms settle Duke Nukem lawsuithttp://www.pcgamer.com/gearbox-and-3d-realms-settle-duke-nukem-lawsuit/3D Realms may have the opportunity to buy back Mr. Nukem.Tue, 19 May 2015 20:56:04 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/gearbox-and-3d-realms-settle-duke-nukem-lawsuit/3D RealmsDuke Nukem ForeverGearbox SoftwareInterceptor EntertainmentNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/MuJ5KxjkR5On.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2ZSECNtQ_Y_h.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Duke Nukem Forever Portrait"></p><p>The <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/duke-nukem-forever/">Duke Nukem</a> lawsuit between 3D Realms and Gearbox Software has been settled, according to documents recently posted on <a href="http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=773753&amp;page=2">NeoGAF</a>. The suit was initially filed in <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/gearbox-suing-3d-realms-and-interceptor-over-duke-nukem-mass-destruction-development/">February 2014</a> over&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/new-duke-nukem-game-from-rise-of-the-triad-dev-to-be-revealed-feb-25/">Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction</a>, a top-down action-RPG being created by 3D Realms and Interceptor Entertainment.</p><p>The game was never officially announced, but it was strongly (<em>very</em> strongly) hinted at on the now-disappeared website AllOutOfGum.com. The trouble arose from the fact that Gearbox had acquired the rights to Duke Nukem in 2010 on the way to releasing Duke Nukem Forever. "Apparently, after selling its Duke Nukem IP rights to Gearbox in 2010, 3DR sought to privately convince others that the sale never happened," Gearbox said in its complaint. "The result is the unauthorized development effort that reportedly exists between 3DR and Interceptor." </p><p>According to the documents posted on GAF, the matter was settled with the assistance of a mediator, and may ultimately end with the return of the Duke to his original home at 3D Realms. The filing states that "the Seller may repurchase the Duke IP at a price equal to the Buy-Back," which is framed by various expensive-sounding clauses and conditions; that doesn't mean that 3D Realms is definitely reacquiring the property, or that Gearbox is committed to selling it, but it certainly appears as though an opportunity for the franchise to change hands is on the table. There are also a few images apparently taken from Mass Destruction before work on the game morphed into the upcoming <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/bombshell/">Bombshell</a>.</p><p>An Interceptor Entertainment rep said the company could not comment on the matter, while Gearbox has not yet responded to our inquiries. </p> The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — max settings at 60 FPShttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-pc-60-fps-max-settings-ultra-graphics-gameplay-video/We recorded The Witcher 3 at max settings and 60 FPS to see just how good it can look.Tue, 19 May 2015 20:35:42 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-pc-60-fps-max-settings-ultra-graphics-gameplay-video/LPCRPGThe Witcher 3: Wild HuntVideos <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/8Gd60iBQH8E" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" width="500"> </iframe><p> Worried <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt/" target="_blank">The Witcher 3</a> might have received a graphical "downgrade" on PC? We decided to put it to the test by cranking all the settings to the max and recording at a glorious 60 FPS. The rig we used had no trouble staying at roughly an average of 64 frames per second while recording, only dipping to the mid-to-low 50s in areas with lots of foliage and trees&mdash;though, to be fair, that rig does have 32GB of RAM and two GTX Titan Xs. Watch the video above to see just how good The Witcher 3 can look.</p><p> As always, be sure to remember that our average frame rate was negatively impacted&nbsp;by our need to record while we play. As I explained in our <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/grand-theft-auto-5-gameplay-max-settings-at-60fps/" target="_blank">GTA 5 max settings video</a>, recording can be very taxing on a machine, even with Nvidia's relatively low impact Shadowplay program. On my home rig, which has 8GB of RAM and a GTX 760, I was hitting an average of 38 FPS on medium settings without recording. Had I been recording, that number would be unlikely to ever hit 30 FPS.&nbsp;</p> Oculus won't block VR porn on the Oculus Rifthttp://www.pcgamer.com/oculus-wont-block-vr-porn-on-the-oculus-rift/Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey says the company doesn't control what runs on the platform.Tue, 19 May 2015 18:28:21 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/oculus-wont-block-vr-porn-on-the-oculus-rift/NewsOculus RIFTPalmer Luckey <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6hQH8LypRoaB.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/h0TqKRzUZO0p.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Naked dude"></p><p>In what I think we can all agree is good news for everyone, everywhere, Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey has indicated that the company will not block adult content&mdash;which is to say, porn&mdash;on the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/oculus-rift/">Oculus Rift</a> headset.</p><p>The question, documented by <a href="http://variety.com/2015/digital/news/oculus-has-no-plans-to-block-virtual-reality-porn-1201499821/">Variety</a>, came up at the first Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Conference, where Luckey was asked about whether Oculus planned to block access to adult content or apps on its VR headset. "The Rift is an open platform. We don’t control what software can run on it," he said. "And that’s a big deal."</p><p>As <a href="http://venturebeat.com/2015/05/18/virtual-reality-porn-were-cool-with-it-oculus-exec-says/">VentureBeat</a> notes, Oculus itself won't be providing access to such content, if for no other reason than because it's owned by Facebook, which is famously uptight about any display of the naughty bits. But in much the same way that X-rated material has found its way to Android devices (or so I've heard), adult content creators who can come up with non-official channels of distribution will apparently have a green light to do so.</p><p>There's still no word on when the Oculus Rift will be released to the public, but the recommended system requirements were <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/oculus-rift-pc-requirements-revealed/">revealed last week</a>. </p> Show Us Your Rig: NeocoreGames' Anikó Salamonhttp://www.pcgamer.com/show-us-your-rig-neocoregames-aniko-salamon/AnikóSalamonLead Artist at NeocoreGames,developers ofThe Incredible Adventures of Van Helsingshows off her PC.Tue, 19 May 2015 17:35:16 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/show-us-your-rig-neocoregames-aniko-salamon/ActionNeocoreNeoCore Gamesshow us your rigThe Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ntxCghYjSLSN.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/lwGIv9YThNPe.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Aniko Salamon 2"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Show us your rig</h5> <p> Each week&nbsp;on <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&nbsp;as they show us the systems they use to work and play. </p> </div><p> Anikó&nbsp;Salamon is the Lead Artist at NeocoreGames&mdash;best known for making The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing trilogy, with&nbsp;the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-incredible-adventures-of-van-helsing-3-hands-on-gameplay/" target="_blank">third and final game</a> in the series releasing&nbsp;this Friday. Like many of the artists we've featured on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/show-us-your-rig/" target="_blank">Show Us Your Rig</a>, her desk is covered in Wacom tablets and character models. Some of those characters happen to be plasticine sculptures of&nbsp;horrifying monsters, which I imagine would be a bit&nbsp;distracting, but I guess less so for the person who actually designed&nbsp;them.&nbsp;Anikó&nbsp;was kind enough to take the time and tell us about her setup and&nbsp;some of her favorite games.</p><h4> What's in your PC?</h4><ul> <li>Case: Cooler Master Silencio 550</li> <li>Motherboard: ASRock Z97 Extreme6</li> <li>Processor: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz</li> <li>RAM: 8GB DDR3 1600MHz Kingston HyperX</li> <li>GPU: AMD Radeon R9 270X 4GB</li> <li>SSD: Samsung SSD 840 EVO 500GB</li> <li>HDDs: 2x Toshiba DT01ACA100 1TB</li> <li>Power Supply: Chieftec 550W</li></ul><p> Outside:</p><ul> <li>Display: DELL U2711 27” + DELL U2412M 24” Monitors</li> <li>Wacom Intuos4 Tablet</li> <li>Wacom CINTIQ 27 QHD Touch</li></ul><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/14FdCm6PTX6q.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EqjBi-7709Jq.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Aniko Salamon 3"></p><h4> What's the most interesting/unique part of your setup?</h4><p> Once I had a kiwifruit on my desk for about two months but it decayed...</p><p> However, I now have a Wacom CINTIQ 27 QHD Touch, which is obviously a wonderful graphics tool, but I don’t use it at the moment. We’re right in the middle of closing a project and I need to get a lot of work done so I sit for about 13-14 hours a day in front of my rig&mdash;for that I find the traditional Wacom tablet more comfortable with a decent monitor.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NmduwwvuS4qP.JPG" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bmR02wgiD7sn.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Aniko Salamon 6"></p><h4> What's always within arm's reach on your desk?</h4><p> That would be my Wacom pen, obviously&mdash;it is always within reach, I barely ever put it down. I have a strange habit of bringing it everywhere with me by accident... even to the kitchen. And the second thing is the mouse. ;) Or my knife because I tend to eat at my desk sometimes. And my tea pot. :)</p><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">Plasticine&nbsp;Sculptures</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/AAyQCVgGT9Ww.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_7zZfazTYxr5.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Aniko Salamon 4">Click the arrows to enlarge.</p></div><p>All other things on my desk are practically useless, they are still here though untouched. For example, the various Van Helsing monsters made of plasticine, some painted or unpainted miniatures, and the still-life set we used when hiring new talent for our graphics team. I can’t imagine how others can work on an empty desk.</p><p> If I should pick one specific thing on my desk anyway, it would be my sketchbook&mdash;when I get tired of digital graphics I usually draw portraits of my co-workers to relax.</p><h4> What are you playing right now?</h4><p> Unfortunately I don’t have the time to play lately. I have a lot of work to do now because we’re so close to the Van Helsing III release. We already started working on the graphic material for a new IP that should be presented this summer...</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6IUV6rJuScW-.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/AlKbqCBX00DL.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Aniko Salamon 1"></p><h4> What's your favorite game and why?</h4><p> I really enjoyed Limbo and Ori because they are so cute ;) I also played a lot of Trine and Bastion with my daughter and we had a great time with both.</p><p> My all-time favorites are Starcraft and W40K: Dawn of War II. Starcraft, because it could maintain complexity for many years and it’s also exciting to watch Starcraft pro-players. And Dawn of War II, because that was when I first met the W40K universe.</p><p> And also the first Assassin’s Creed, because I was totally amazed by its design... and trailers. :)</p> Project Cars studio denies it intentionally crippled performance on AMD cardshttp://www.pcgamer.com/project-cars-studio-denies-it-intentionally-crippled-performance-on-amd-cards/Slightly Mad Studios says the allegations are erroneous and based on "wrongful assumptions."Tue, 19 May 2015 17:33:16 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/project-cars-studio-denies-it-intentionally-crippled-performance-on-amd-cards/AMDNewsNvidiaPhysXProject CARSRacingSlightly Mad Studios <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/phzT0GAeRbqO.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/yQC5MJmjOy1Q.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Screenshots of the year - Project Cars"></p><p> Accusations that Slightly Mad Studios intentionally built <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/project-cars/">Project Cars</a> with a version of PhysX it knew wouldn't run properly on AMD video cards recently surfaced in a lengthy post on <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/pcgaming/comments/366iqs/nvidia_gameworks_project_cars_and_why_we_should/">Reddit</a>. The author claims, in great detail, that all PhysX calculations on PCs with AMD display cards must be offloaded to the CPU, which has a very detrimental impact on performance, and worse, the choice to stick it to AMD was made intentionally and nefariously, because of the studio's pre-existing relationship with Nvidia.</p><p> The allegations were widespread and specific enough to cause Slightly Mad to respond with an official denial. "For the past few days, erroneous information posted on Reddit and other websites has spread misinformation with regards to Project Cars' performance on systems using AMD GPUs," it wrote in a statement.&nbsp;</p><p>"To correct the wrongful assumptions regarding Project Cars’ performance on AMD GPUs, the <a href="http://www.slightlymadstudios.com/tech.html">Madness engine</a> and the degree of involvement from our third-party technical partners, Slightly Mad Studios feel compelled to point out the following facts:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"> - Project Cars is not a GameWorks product. We have a good working relationship with nVidia, as we do with AMD, but we have our own render technology which covers everything we need. <br> - NVidia are not "sponsors" of the project. The company has not received, and would not expect, financial assistance from third party hardware companies.<br> - The Madness engine runs PhysX at only 50Hz and not at 600Hz as mentioned in several articles<br> - The Madness engine uses PhysX for collision detection and dynamic objects, which is a small part of the overall physics systems<br> - The Madness engine does not use PhysX for the SETA tyre model or for the chassis constraint solver (our two most expensive physics sub-systems)<br> - The Madness engine does not use PhysX for the AI systems or for raycasting, we use a bespoke optimized solution for those<br> - The physics systems run completely independently of the rendering and main game threads and utilizes 2 cores at 600Hz<br> - The physics threading does not interact with the rendering, it is a push system sending updated positional information to the render bridge at 600Hz<br> - Any performance difference with PhysX would not be reflected with differences in comparing rendering frame rates. There is no interaction between PhysX and the rendering<br> - Overall, PhysX uses less than 10% of all physics thread CPU on PC. It is a very small part of the physics system so would not make a visual difference if run on the CPU or GPU<br> - Direct involvement with both nVidia and AMD has been fruitful in assisting with the game performance at various stages of development. Both AMD and nVidia have had access to working builds of the game throughout development, and they have both tested builds and reported their results and offered suggestions for performance improvements.<br> - Testing of the game with different driver versions has produced a variety of performance results on both nVidia and AMD hardware. This is entirely to be expected as driver changes cannot always be tested on every game and every card, and this is the reason why both companies produce game-specific driver profiles, to ensure that they can get the best out of the game.<br> - Project CARS does not use nVidia specific particle technology - the system we use is a modified version of the same technology we used on the Need for Speed: Shift and Shift Unleashed games, and was entirely developed in-house. The reason the performance drops when there are a lot of particles on screen is simply because processing a large number of particles is very expensive."</p><p> In a separate thread originally posted on a private Slightly Mad forum and quoted on <a href="http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?p=1041593386#post1041593386">HardForum</a>, studio boss Ian Bell categorically denied that Nvidia had paid anything toward the development of the game, and indicated that the problem with performance on AMD cards is "mainly a driver issue."</p> Street Fighter 5 trailer shows that Bison is backhttp://www.pcgamer.com/street-fighter-5-trailer-shows-that-m-bison-is-back/New video shows new moves for the would-be dictator.Tue, 19 May 2015 16:22:13 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/street-fighter-5-trailer-shows-that-m-bison-is-back/FightingNewsStreet Fighter V <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/epPou9RzeKM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Here's a further&nbsp;look at the ultra-punchy Street Fighter V&mdash;a game that, depending on your point of view, is either the follow-up to Ultra Street Fighter IV or the predecessor to the inevitable Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition. This particular trailer teases the return of dictator-in-waiting <del>Montgomery</del> <del>Montague</del> <del>Mortimus</del> <del>Manfred</del> M. Bison.</p><p>The trailer, courtesy of IGN, highlights some&nbsp;new tricks as part of Bison's much changed&nbsp;move-set. He's the fourth SF5 character to be announced, with previous videos&mdash;embedded below&mdash;showing Ryu, Chun Li and Nash.</p><p>Street Fighter 5 will be available exclusively on PC and PS4, and is due out early next year.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1JT-IvFkUhA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ay-IUE6WlAo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> Exploring films and TV in VRhttp://www.pcgamer.com/exploring-films-and-tv-in-vr/Visiting imaginary places in virtual reality.Tue, 19 May 2015 16:17:46 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/exploring-films-and-tv-in-vr/Oculus RIFTvirtual reality Iron Fish is a psychological deep-sea adventurehttp://www.pcgamer.com/iron-fish-is-a-psychological-deep-sea-adventure/In the depths of the ocean nobody can tell that you're wetting your pants.Tue, 19 May 2015 15:07:40 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/iron-fish-is-a-psychological-deep-sea-adventure/Iron FishNews <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RaC9-ZrTPn0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Iron Fish claims to be a "psychological deep-sea thriller". They might as well have called it Game Phil Will Never Play. Maybe you, dear reader, <em>aren't</em> innately terrified of inhospitable nightmare worlds, or the deadly gelatinous animals that dwell within them.* If that's the case, then you can probably make it through this announcement trailer without wanting to cry all of the water out of your body.</p><p>The game will challenge players to go exploring the depths. As the official site's About page puts it, "seven miles under the surface is dangerous territory for humans, especially when only five per cent of Earth’s oceans have been explored so far."</p><p>Iron Fish is due out at the end of the year.</p><p>*Seriously, what the hell is with jellyfish? They <em>don't have brains</em>. And they were proper shits in Ecco the Dolphin.</p> Cities: Skylines patch brings European style buildingshttp://www.pcgamer.com/cities-skylines-patch-brings-european-style-buildings/Terraced houses and lots ofnew buildings come courtesy of the 'European Theme' update.Tue, 19 May 2015 13:42:16 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/cities-skylines-patch-brings-european-style-buildings/Cities: SkylinesNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/MiY8v6vrQB2j.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hw-CPLDqYNnS.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="aLZ9YCz"></p><p>As themes go, "European" is a pretty broad category&mdash;encompassing centuries of history and architecture across multiple countries. Nevertheless, a new update for Cities: Skylines does attempt to make everything look less gosh-darn American. Patch 1.1.0&mdash;or&nbsp;European Theme, as it's also known&mdash;brings 72 new European buildings, and the ability for these buildings to form into terraces.</p><p>These buildings are part of a new European biome, meaning they'll only appear if you start a city on that map theme.</p><p>Also in 1.1.0, tunnels; a feature that Colossal Order say was "one of the community’s most requested features". In addition, the asset editor has been expanded and now allows for the import of custom vehicles.</p><p>Here are the update's main additions and features:</p><ul><li>New: European theme added</li><li>New: 72 European buildings in the European theme</li><li>New: Support for corner and adjacent buildings in the European theme</li><li>New: 3 maps added with European theme (Cliffside Bay, Foggy Hills and Grand River)</li><li>New: Tunnels for roads and rail added</li><li>New: Metro tunnels can be built at different levels</li><li>Options: V sync option added</li><li>Options: Invert Y mouse axis added</li></ul><p>The full thing is much broader in its scope, and you can see the complete changelist over at the&nbsp;<a href="https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php?threads%2Fcontent-update-1-1-0-is-live-on-retail.856707%2F" target="_blank">Paradox forums</a>. Patch 1.1.0 is out now.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rn-HAaYnSouZ.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VfZS7_D2GgfH.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Skylines 1"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vkP2VCyhQWSF.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/29zzEirZ8BHE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Skylines 2"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/dHnRHqKUQaaS.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HT-cht922nqc.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Skylines 3"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rQDicoiNSNKE.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vQTnk9nroQQk.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Skylines 4"></p> GSC Game World returns for Cossacks 3http://www.pcgamer.com/gsc-gameworld-returns-for-cossacks-3/STALKER studio is back, but not making a new STALKER.Tue, 19 May 2015 11:20:47 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/gsc-gameworld-returns-for-cossacks-3/NewsRTS <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-qg7UDoSS0ag.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HAjowNAb8Z5D.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Scr3"></p><p>You probably remember GSC Game World as the developers of the STALKER games. After closing in 2011, they re-emerged&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/gsc-gameworld-developers-of-stalker-are-back-in-business/" target="_blank">last year</a> to tease an&nbsp;"old-fashioned, full-price" new game. That game has now been announced, and&mdash;surprise!&mdash;it's not another STALKER. Instead, it's Cossacks 3.</p><p>And they weren't kidding about "old fashioned," either, as Cossacks 3 is a "modern remake" of the original Cossacks. According to GSC's press release, it will feature&nbsp;overhauled mechanics and battles that support up to 10,000 units.</p><p>First released&nbsp;in 2001, Cossacks is a historical RTS series. Similar to Age of Empires, it features resource gathering and building construction. It also gave you thumping great big armies, which you could use to smash into other thumping great big armies.</p><p>As a remake, Cossacks 3 will again return to the 17th and 18th centuries, and feature five historical campaigns and 12 playable nations. It will also boast realistic projectile physics and randomly generated maps. It's due out at the end of the year.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zYAzqnvNQBem.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WR-yfkwoG7jh.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Scr1"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gb68_I00Rl6C.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/dQwz37Sxz9ix.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Scr2"></p> Dustbowl is a post-apocalyptic pixel adventurehttp://www.pcgamer.com/dustbowl-is-a-post-apocalyptic-pixel-adventure/Fight and survive in a low-res wasteland.Tue, 19 May 2015 10:19:24 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/dustbowl-is-a-post-apocalyptic-pixel-adventure/News <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0x2PXkH16ik" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>If you're anything like me, the name 'Dustbowl' will conjure images of emerging up a set of stairs, across a gauntlet of Heavies, Snipers and Spies, and&nbsp;towards the capture point of a&nbsp;sentry-filled building. But as well as a TF2 map, it's also the name of a post-apocalyptic adventure that's just been released&nbsp;<a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/367110/" target="_blank">on Steam</a>.</p><p>It's an intriguing looking thing, boasting a massive world and turn-based combat. There's survival and crafting too, which suggests that, despite the point-'n-click nature, it's more freeform in its structure.</p><p>The feature list further details&nbsp;this blend of survival, adventure and RPG:</p><ul> <li>A full thirst, hunger, tired system to keep adventurers on their toes.</li><li>Unique turn-based combat system with hit locations.</li><li>More quests and tasks to shake a mutant leg at!</li><li>Random encounters and easter eggs.</li><li>A sprawling 15km map of places to explore!</li><li>Fallout, S.T.A.L.K.E.R, Metro2033 inspired.</li><li>Beautiful pixel art environments in a C64 palette.</li></ul><p>For more, head on over to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dustbowl-adventure.com/" target="_blank">Dustbowl site</a>.</p> This is what Doom 4 could have looked like, apparentlyhttp://www.pcgamer.com/this-is-what-doom-4-could-have-looked-like-apparently/Leaked images and footage show a Doom from another time.Tue, 19 May 2015 02:30:31 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/this-is-what-doom-4-could-have-looked-like-apparently/BethesdaDoomDoom 4FPSid SoftwareNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cOLr0JyETY2z.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/eAzwwOEaEPUh.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="HmqQHQZ"></p><p>Today's Doom teaser trailer was... well,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/its-three-seconds-of-doom-footage/">not very enlightening</a>, but it certainly appeared different to these newly unearthed images and footage&nbsp;from a previous iteration of the game. As is well known, id Software&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/doom-4-restart-id/">rebooted development</a> on the fourth instalment back in 2013, because "it&nbsp;didn't exhibit the quality and excitement that id and Bethesda intend to deliver", according to Bethesda's&nbsp;Pete Hines.</p><p>If this material posted on the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.doomworld.com/vb/doom-4-general/72791-i-found-gameplay-footage-of-the-canned-version-of-doom-4/">Doomworld forums</a> by user Marnetmar&nbsp;is truthfully from the canned project (and its resemblance to&nbsp;<a href="https://4316bd223ebdc131e650-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/s92YeI5ZjmLO.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg">previously leaked images</a> seems to suggest it is) then Hines was probably right. Gritty and brown, the evidence that id Software was&nbsp;trying to capture the late '00s FPS zeitgeist are everywhere. There's&nbsp;<a href="https://vid.me/70wz">even footage</a>.&nbsp;</p><iframe src="https://vid.me/e/70wz" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"></iframe><p>Compared with what we know about the in-development Doom – that it's a return to the gory, fast-paced no-hiding-behind-cover-you-sook glory days of the series – it definitely comes out second best.&nbsp;</p><p>Then again, apart from Ian Birnbaum's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/doom-revealed-at-quakecon-2014-and-heres-what-we-saw/">eyewitness report&nbsp;</a>from last year's behind-closed-doors gameplay demonstration at QuakeCon, we don't know much about the new one, either.&nbsp;</p><p>Some images are below, but you can see the full set over at the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.doomworld.com/vb/doom-4-general/72791-i-found-gameplay-footage-of-the-canned-version-of-doom-4/">Doomworld forums</a>.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/l1n7hoU5RwSs.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WhebaIZKJMQU.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="3Hl6gae"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/O9ubG07LTUad.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LhvapKs7lb-l.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="ERqFqyu"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VW7grnJZR1KC.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/swLR2O6GkDW7.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="tVihlwb"></p> Microsoft planning "attractive Windows 10 upgrade offers" to grab pirateshttp://www.pcgamer.com/microsoft-planning-attractive-windows-10-upgrade-offers-to-grab-pirates/Microsoft is working with OEMs to offer upgrade options to users running older non-genuine versions of Windows.Tue, 19 May 2015 00:13:57 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/microsoft-planning-attractive-windows-10-upgrade-offers-to-grab-pirates/HardwareNewsWindows 10 <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xK4g3uhDRoCd.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Yh_8dr6iGKHv.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Windows 10 Desktop"></p><p>We've known since January that Microsoft <em>really </em>wants to get people to upgrade to Windows 10: that's when the company announced that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/windows-10-upgrade-free-for-owners-of-windows-7-and-81/">all Windows 7 and Windows 8 owners will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free during its first year of release</a>. For awhile, there were some confusing headlines floating around that claimed even pirates would get Windows 10 for free. Microsoft has since clarified that non-genuine copies of Windows will remain non-genuine after an update to Windows 10, but they've also teased some special deals in the works to try to get pirated Windows users to go legit.</p><p>"In partnership with some of our valued OEM partners, we are planning very attractive Windows 10 upgrade offers for their customers running one of their older devices in a Non-Genuine state," wrote Microsoft's Terry Myerson&nbsp;<a href="http://blogs.windows.com/bloggingwindows/2015/05/15/genuine-windows-and-windows-10/">in a recent Windows blog post</a>.</p><p>We can only speculate on what that means at this point; it sounds like the big OEMs like Dell and HP will be the ones offering special deals to people who already own their systems. Those deals may not apply to a home-built system running non-genuine Windows.</p><p>Also, if you're curious what happens when you try to upgrade from 7/8 to Windows 10 using a non-genuine copy, Myerson clarified:</p><p>"When we can’t verify that Windows is properly installed, licensed, and not tampered with, we create a desktop watermark to notify the user...Microsoft and our OEM partners know that many consumers are unwitting victims of piracy, and with Windows 10, we would like all of our customers to move forward with us together. While our free offer to upgrade to Windows 10 will not apply to Non-Genuine Windows devices, and as we’ve always done, we will continue to offer Windows 10 to customers running devices in a Non-Genuine state."</p><p>Recently, AMD's CEO&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/amd-boss-says-windows-10-will-launch-at-the-end-of-july/">stated that Windows 10 will be released at the end of July</a>.</p> The amazing technology of The Witcher 3http://www.pcgamer.com/the-amazing-technology-of-the-witcher-3/We take a look at some of the technology powering the massive open world of The Witcher 3 – not to mention its inhabitants.Mon, 18 May 2015 23:39:22 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-amazing-technology-of-the-witcher-3/ <p> Featuring a giant, open world – about 30 times larger than that of The Witcher 2 – that you can explore on foot, on horseback or even by boat, The Witcher 3 puts you for the last time into the stout boots of Geralt of Rivia, a white-haired monster hunter for hire who this time around, on top of all the inevitable slaying of vicious beasts, is in search of a child from an ancient prophecy. With over 200 hours of gameplay if you're determined to do absolutely everything along the way, it's a massive and epic game that'll take its toll on even the most powerful gaming rig. </p> <p> To help things along, developer CD Projekt RED is using a brand new version of its REDengine. REDengine 3 is a 64-bit beast, built to create the best possible graphic quality, using high dynamic range rendering to generate its rich landscapes and their inhabitants, who also benefit from improved facial animation and an advanced dialogue mimic system, which means that when they speak their mouths should move to match what's being said. REDengine 3 also supports volumetric effects for improved rendering of clouds, fog and smoke, as well as ultra-high resolution textures, and its renderer can be used to create an impressive array of cinematic effects. </p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zxVSteH6RrW-.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/DSN4d2rBX1-m.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Witcher 3 PC Screenshot 001"> </p> <p> CD Projekt RED’s REDengine 3 has also been revamped with the implementation of an advanced new streaming load system, which allows The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to seamlessly switch from smaller environments to sprawling open settings without constantly interrupting gameplay with immersion-shattering loading screens. The upgraded game engine accomplishes this by silently loading up new environments in the background during gameplay. </p> <p> If that's not enough, CD Projekt RED has been working with Nvidia to integrate its GameWorks technology into The Witcher 3. The GameWorks platform consists of a robust suite of tools and graphics technologies designed to help developers build rich and immersive experiences, and it's built and maintained by over 300 visual effects engineers who develop libraries, tools and samples, and who also work alongside the developers to help them implement GameWorks features into their games. </p> <p> Perhaps the most exciting GameWorks feature that you're going to notice in The Witcher 3 is HairWorks. Now, realistic hair and fur simulation and rendering – which is what HairWorks does – may not sound especially enthralling, but it's going to make one hell of a difference to what you see. </p> <iframe src="http://gfycat.com/ifr/DigitalGloomyFrenchbulldog" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="740" height="340" style="-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;-webkit-transform: scale(1);"> </iframe> <p> <strong>A creature featured in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt with NVIDIA HairWorks enabled</strong> </p> <p> Originating from multiple simulation and rendering technologies that Nvidia has developed in the past, HairWorks most noticeably gives Geralt's trademark white mane extra swish and flow, with the added bonus that throughout the game his beard will keep on growing, and you can either let it do its thing and end up going full Gandalf, or you can stop off at barbers' along the way to keep it in trim. Geralt's trusty horse also gets a HairWorks makeover, as do many of the monsters, who'll feature thousands of strands of dynamic tessellated hair, creating the most realistic fur simulation you've ever seen in-game. </p> <p> The world of Witcher 3 gets an extra layer of realism thanks to GameWorks' HBAO+, which creates high quality Ambient Occlusion shadows on every character, object, surface and piece of foliage in the game, with more accurate and realistic results than other AO techniques. It all adds up to a more vivid world in which every detail stands out in a natural, photographic way. </p> <p> Other ways the development team at CD Projekt RED has brought The Witcher 3’s rich fantasy world to life is by implementing post-process anti-aliasing, a technology that dramatically reduces jagged edges in objects in the environment, bloom, which is a post-processing effect that intensifies bright light in the game and how it is realistically cast on various surfaces, depth-of-field, blur and velocity-based motion blur among a whole host of other high-end graphics effects. </p> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Md4Hmgtl8q0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe> <p> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Check out the video above for a glimpse at the GameWorks technologies utilized in The Witcher 3.</strong> </p> <p> Finally, The Witcher 3 uses Nvidia's PhysX effects throughout the game. PhysX Clothing is used to ensure that all the characters' clothes – not to mention things like the sails on ships and even horse tails – move in the most realistic way possible, while PhysX Destruction does exactly what you'd expect: it allows objects and scenery to be destroyed realistically and without any noticeable performance hit. </p> <p> If you don't have an Nvidia GPU, don't worry that you're going to miss out; all this tech uses DirectX 11 and will happily work on AMD cards as well. It's worth noting, though, that if you're in the market for a new GPU to meet The Witcher 3's hefty system requirements, buying a <a href="http://www.geforce.com/hardware/desktop-gpus/geforce-gtx-960">GeForce GTX 960</a> or better will also net you code to download the game for free. </p> An analysis of the three-second Doom teaserhttp://www.pcgamer.com/an-analysis-of-the-three-second-doom-teaser/What could it mean?Mon, 18 May 2015 23:06:41 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/an-analysis-of-the-three-second-doom-teaser/DoomE3 2015FPS The best World of Warcraft selfie will get you a ticket to BlizzConhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-world-of-warcraft-selfie-will-get-you-a-ticket-to-blizzcon/There are weekly prizes to be won as well.Mon, 18 May 2015 22:21:22 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-world-of-warcraft-selfie-will-get-you-a-ticket-to-blizzcon/BlizzardMMONewsWorld of Warcraft <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/uaTsA3JxgoI?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> And lo, Ogrim Doomhammercast his baleful glare across the blackened landscape, and he turned, fist raised to the blood-red sky, and called out to his legions: "<strong><em>Tonight, we dine on the entrails of our enemies!</em></strong> But first, lemme take a selfie."</p><p> I actually think the video, with cutesy animated characters engaging in ridiculous violence&mdash;and snapping photos of it all&mdash; is pretty amusing. But even if it's not your particular cup of comedy, the contest itself sounds like it could be fun. The rules are simple: Find the location indicating in the sample photo, take a picture of yourself in the same situation (including, presumably, being a half-second away from getting clocked in the skull with an axe), and then submit it.</p><p> More challenges, presumably in the form of taking pictures of yourself in ever-more ridiculous situations, will be issued weekly, with prizes of Blizzard gear, Battle.net balance codes, and an iPhone up for grabs. The grand prize will be a trip for two to <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/blizzcon/">BlizzCon 2015</a>, including round-trip airfare, three nights accommodation, and a pair of BlizzCon badges.</p><p> The WoW Selfie Scavenger Hunt is underway now and runs until June 22. Details, including a submission link and instructions on how to take a WoW selfie, are up at <a href="http://blizz.ly/WoWSelfie">blizz.ly/WoWSelfie</a>. BlizzCon 2015 runs from <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/blizzcon-2015-is-coming-in-november/">November 6-7</a> at the Anaheim Convention Center in Los Angeles.</p> The best wireless gaming mousehttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-mouse/Wireless gaming mice don't have to be worse than wired ones. Here's the mouse to use without sacrificing performance.Mon, 18 May 2015 21:57:37 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-wireless-gaming-mouse/Buying GuideFeatured Guidegaming miceHardwareLogitechTop Buying Guides <p>You may have heard that wireless gaming mice are laggy, slow, and unresponsive compared to wired gaming mice. And once upon a time, that was true. But today, you probably won't&nbsp;even notice a difference between wireless and wired gaming mice without that telltale braided cable. After months of testing a range of wireless gaming mice, I discovered that most of them were responsive and lag-free, but varied wildly in build quality, comfort and battery life. The best wireless gaming mouse literally lasted for months of daily use and gaming.</p><br/> <h3>The best wireless gaming mouse</h3><p>The&nbsp;<span class="hawk-widget-insert" data-widget-type="link" data-model-name="G602 " data-link-text="Logitech G602"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E4MQODC/?tag=pcgedit-20&amp;ascsubtag=wirelessmice" rel="nofollow">Logitech G602</a></span>&nbsp;isn’t just the best wireless gaming mouse&mdash;it’s one of the most comfortable gaming mice I’ve used, period. Its palm grip shape is a familiar Logitech design, and the G602 feels great in my hand: comfortable and relaxed in everyday use, but easy to grip for faster-paced gaming sessions. The thumb groove offers comfort and control, while slight concave grooves in the left and right click buttons keep my fingers situated in place. The plastic material isn’t prone to collecting finger grease or causing my hand to sweat during an intense gaming session.</p><p>The G602 uses standard 2.4GHz wireless and a sensor that supports up to 2500 DPI. If that DPI sounds low, read <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/gaming-mouse-myths-busted/">my article on busting gaming mouse myths</a>, and why high DPI gaming mice often have poor performance at those higher settings.</p><p>I used the G602 as my everyday work mouse for more than a month, and during that time it never once lagged, jittered, or showed any other issues resulting from its wired connection. This was with the wirless receiver plugged into my tower, under my desk, with about four feet (and my legs) in between mouse and receiver.</p><br/><p>I also never had to charge the mouse. After that two months, the battery meter still read half full. I spent most of that time in “Endurance mode,” which sends reports from the mouse to the PC at 125 Hz, or every 8ms. Logitech promises 1440 hours of battery life in that mode from two AA batteries. In “Performance mode,” which is activated by the switch beneath the scroll wheel, the G602 switches to a 500 Hz report rate, or every 2 ms. In Performance mode, Logitech says the G602 will still last 250 hours of gaming.</p><p>Most wired gaming mice today offer the option to report at 1000 Hz, or every millisecond. It’s possible that this can feel more accurate if you’re extremely sensitive, but the vast majority of us will have difficulty differentiating between 1000 Hz and 500 Hz. Remember, most monitors only refresh at 60 Hz, meaning you’re not going to see a difference between these polling rates. The polling rate only refers to how often the mouse’s sensor data is sent to the PC: the sensor is collecting data as quickly and accurately at 500 Hz as it is at 1000 Hz.</p><p>Wireless gaming mice tend to be heavier than wired ones thanks to their batteries, and the G602 is definitely a heavy mouse about 150 grams. And while I usually advocate lighter, simpler mice (as do most pro gamers), I found the G602’s weight surprisingly comfortable thanks to great gliding action on my hard mouse pad. In my go-to test for mouse responsiveness, one-hit-kill Unreal Tournament Instagib, I found that I regularly played better with the G602 than any of the other wireless mice I used. I felt more accurate and in-control and won nearly every match against a slew of bots that often beat me when I used other wireless mice.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/pg4-ajOvSkuZ.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uAhZxMaHstgz.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Best Wireless Gaming Mice G602"></p><p>But I don’t think the G602 is perfect. Its left side is crammed with six thumb buttons that are too small, indistinguishable, and not ideal for pressing during intense gaming sessions. Fewer buttons, more easily distinguished by touch, would be a big improvement for the G602. The mouse’s AM010 sensor isn’t great at very high movement speeds, so if you’re a Counter-Strike 1.6 player who plays at 500 sensitivity, the G602 isn’t the mouse for you. But for 99% of gamers, it’s fast and accurate enough that you won’t notice any performance issues while gaming.</p><p>The thumb buttons were my one complaint with the mouse, which was more than made up for by its reliability and performance. Logitech’s driver software is easy to use, allowing you to set up custom keybinds and DPI profiles. The mouse intelligently went into power-saving mode when I wasn’t using it, so it didn’t lose battery life when I left work for the day, but it was never slow or laggy on wake-up when I came back to my desk after an hour away. When I was testing other mice, I’d manually switch the G602 off, but I found myself coming back to it again and again when other mice were slow to install drivers or had dead batteries. As soon as I flicked the power switch, it was working perfectly.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.6em; background-color: initial;"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E4MQODC/?tag=pcgedit-20&amp;ascsubtag=wirelessmice">The Logitech G602</a></span> is the best wireless gaming mouse I’ve tested, and better than most of the wired gaming mice I’ve used, too.</p><h3>The best cheap wireless gaming mouse</h3><p>It’s amazing what ten dollars can get you. Budget gaming brand E-Blue makes a variety of wired and wireless gaming mice, and the wireless Cobra is far nicer than a $10 mouse should be. I wouldn’t advise anyone to buy a cheap mouse over the Logitech G602: for $50, Logitech gives you a better sensor, software to adjust DPI and set keybinds, and better build quality and battery life. But if you don’t have the money and just want something dirt cheap, it’s hard to argue against&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J9769DC/?tag=pcgedit-20">the Cobra Advanced for $17</a>. </p><p>The Cobra has three DPI options, 500/1000/750, and a nicely narrow ambidextrous (except there are only thumb buttons on the left side) body design. The left and right buttons are nicely concave and cradle your fingers and have a fast, firm click action. The thumb buttons have a softer click, but are well positioned and firm enough to lay your thumb on top of without accidentally clicking. It’s a light mouse that glides easily and feels responsive while gaming. I didn’t encounter any issues with lag or slowdown while playing Unreal Tournament.</p><br/><p>In fact, I got better gaming performance out of the Cobra than much more expensive gaming mice. It's easy to grip without collecting sweat and I didn't notice any issues with sensor performance while gaming. No wireless lag or issues with the report rate. I'm sure the Cobra tops out at a relatively low acceleration threshhold, so it's not going to be the perfect mouse for a low sensitivity Counter-Strike player. It's not really the perfect mouse for anyone, but it's good enough that most gamers won't find it hindering their game playing.</p><p>There are, of course,&nbsp;downsides to such a budget mouse, even though I think the Cobra feels much better than you'd expect for its price.&nbsp;The wheel has a soft scrolling feel that doesn’t offer much precision. There’s no visual indication of what DPI setting you’re on, so you just have to press the button to cycle between the different settings.</p><p>There’s no driver software to let you fine-tune DPI or identify your report rate, and the mouse doesn’t have a power-saving feature when it’s sitting dormant like more premium mice. I’m skeptical of E-Blue’s claimed two years of battery life on a pair of AAAs, but hey,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J9769DC/?tag=pcgedit-20">the Cobra Advanced Wireless</a> costs less than $20. What more can you ask for, really?</p> <h3>How we test gaming mice and others we tested</h3><p> Wireless gaming mice have gotten a bad rap for years. They’re less responsive than wired mice, prone to lag and interruptions thanks to flaky wireless receivers. Batteries will die on you in the middle of a match. And they’re more expensive. There’s just no reason to buy one.</p><p> Except, well, not having a cord is pretty great.</p><p> Thankfully, most of that common wisdom about wireless gaming mice is now outdated. Some wireless mice are still more expensive, and poor ones could suck their batteries dry in the middle of a match or lag thanks to a poor wireless receiver. But good wireless gaming mice today perform almost indistinguishably from wired ones, without a hint of wireless lag or stutter to be found. Some wireless gaming mice even offer report rates of 1000 Hz, as fast as wired mice, though at the expense of battery life.</p><p> To test wireless gaming mice, I got my hands on current models from big names like Logitech, Razer, and Steelseries. I also scoured Amazon to find other popular wireless gaming mice, most of which are budget models.</p><p> For more on the details of how gaming mice work, and what makes a good one, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-gaming-mouse/#section-headline4">check out the testing section of our best gaming mouse guide</a>.</p><h3>Testing gaming mice</h3><p> I used each wireless gaming mouse for several days, getting a sense for how the mouse felt in my hand, the grip and material, and the feel of its buttons. I paid attention to battery life and how often the mouse needed to be recharged, if it was rechargeable.</p><p> For gaming, I primarily test mice with Unreal Tournament, playing many rounds of Instagib to see how my performance stacks up against other mice. I scrutinize the cursor movement and responsiveness for lag, jitter, and other issues.</p><p> I used each mouse with its wireless receiver plugged into my keyboard or sitting on my desk, giving it the best possible wireless situation to work with. I also tested them with their wireless receivers plugged into my tower a few feet away with my legs in between, increasing the opportunity for lag and interference.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vM0f4_AITZOr.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9oDWsLxIGuzv.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Best Wireless Gaming Mice"></p><h3>Competitors</h3><p> I tested almost a dozen wireless gaming mice to pick out the Logitech G602 as the best. Here are some others that didn't make the cut.</p><h4><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ILALMZS/?tag=pcgedit-20">Steelseries Sensei Wireless</a></h4><p> The wired Steelseries Sensei Raw is a great ambidextrous gaming mouse: small, light, and elegantly simple. The Sensei Wireless retains the shape but is much heavier than the normal Sensei at 120 grams. It has some potentially great specs for a wireless gaming mouse--up to 8200 DPI and 1000 Hz polling rate option--but I had nothing but trouble with the Sensei Wireless. Even after updating it to the latest firmware, the Sensei Wireless frequently and consistently would hang as I was moving the cursor across my screen. This happened in and out of games every one or two minutes, which made me want to use any other mouse as soon as possible.</p><p> I think my hitching problems with the Sensei Wireless were unusual issues, but even if the mouse performed well, it would be tough to recommend. It’s far too expensive at $130, and its large, heavy charging dock doubles as an ugly desk ornament. Unfortunately, you’re going to be charging the Sensei Wireless a lot. Steelseries says it lasts 16 hours, and if I didn’t remember to put it on the charging stand when I left the office, I inevitably had the mouse run out of juice when I was using it the next day. The Sensei feels like a wired mouse that had wireless capabilities shoehorned into it, rather than being built for wireless from the ground up.</p><h4><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EWEHI5K/?tag=pcgedit-20">Razer Ouroboros</a></h4><p> The Razer Ouroboros is another very expensive wireless gaming mouse at $130. And it looks like a premium mouse: it comes with a fancy stand so the mouse can sit upright while it’s charging. Its side pieces can be swapped out so you can comfortably grip with either left or right hand. The Ouroboros works wirelessly and switches to wired mode when it’s plugged in. Unfortunately, all this adds up to a mouse that feels like overengineered form over function.</p><p> Installing the Ouroboros’ single AA battery requires unscrewing part of the mouse with a screwdriver Razer includes in the package, sliding off the palmrest, and opening a hatch--then reassembling the entire thing. I also found that, despite fiddling with power saving sleep options in the Ouroboros’ drivers, the battery didn’t last long. Razer claims 12 hours of continuous gaming, and says you can always “hot swap” with another AA battery to keep gaming. I don’t think using a tiny screwdriver to remove a panel and access a hatch constitutes hot swapping. I regularly had the battery run out on me during regular use, even when the mouse was set to its lowest report rate of 125 Hz.</p><p> The Ouroboros can report at up to 1000 Hz, which is unusual for a wireless mouse. In practice, I couldn’t discern a difference between 500 Hz and 1000 Hz, but it’s an option some gamers will appreciate. Unfortunately, gaming with the Ourboros just never felt right to me. It’s a heavy mouse at 140 grams, and while it slides very well, it also has a very flat profile that never quite felt comfortable for me. Testing the Ouroboros in Unreal Tournament just felt off, and I performed poorly with the mouse in most of my matches. After losing half a dozen, I switched over to the Logitech G602 and immediately started winning. Best as I could tell, there was no lag or latency affecting the Ourboros, but my gaming experience just never felt good.</p><h4><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NW6T6CC/?tag=pcgedit-20">Razer Naga Epic Chroma</a></h4><p> After spending time using the Razer Naga Epic Chroma as my day-to-day mouse, I came away feeling the same way I did about the wired version: it’s a good mouse for gamers who want a *ton* of thumb buttons, but not ideally suited to much else. It’s a bit short and squat, and its 12 thumb buttons are tough to distinguish in the midst of an intense game. Based on its body shape, it’s built for a flatter, more relaxed grip suited to MMOs, but I wouldn’t recommend it to MOBA or shooter players.</p><p> The wireless Naga Epic uses a sensor that scales up to 8200 DPI, and like the Ouroboros the Naga can handle a report rate of 1000 Hz. That’s a nice perk that most wireless gaming mice don’t offer, though it’s a bigger drain on battery life than 500 Hz for a latency reduction that most of us will never notice.</p><h4><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009PHSDBM/?tag=pcgedit-20">Mad Catz R.A.T. 9</a></h4><p> The Mad Catz R.A.T. 9 is a confusing mouse. It’s almost impossible to recommend on price alone, at $130. But some thoughtful aspects of its design help justify that price: two rechargeable batteries that can be swapped out in a handful of seconds, an extensible palm rest that helps fit the mouse to your hand, and some other smart engineering choices, like the tool used to adjust the mouse fitting into the design (something Razer should take note of for the Ouroboros). But then there are the issues: a power button so mushy it’s hard to tell if it’s on or off, a battery compartment that seems to click into place before it actually does. I thought my R.A.T. 9 was a dud for nearly an hour, but the battery apparently wasn’t quite all the way in place. The R.A.T. 9’s driver software is also lacking some key information like the report rate.</p><p> The glossy model quickly collects finger grease, so I’d recommend the matte R.A.T. 9 over the glossy version. But it’s tough for me to recommend either due to the price and another unfortunate aspect of the mouse: its sensor. The Philips Twin-Eye sensor is notoriously finicky, and on my black cloth pad at home it exhibited some annoying spurious motion (aka jitter) when I lightly touched the mouse. Laser sensors are better suited to hard pads, and I thankfully didn’t encounter the same issue on the white surface of my desk. If you get a R.A.T. 9, you’ll have to be prepared to find a mousepad that works well with its picky sensor. The R.A.T. 9 is a cool mouse, but it doesn’t make sense to buy over a mouse with better battery life, a more reliable sensor, and better software that costs nearly one third the price.</p><h4><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CBLVVZE/?tag=pcgedit-20">E-Blue Mazer Type R</a></h4><p> There’s a confusing mess of E-Blue mice on Amazon, with slight differences between models that are hard to pin down. They all use the same body shape, with varieties of plastic material and sensors. The Type R, which I used, is surprisingly great for $21. It has four DPI options, 500/1000/1750/2500, a pair of well-positioned thumb buttons, and a large scroll wheel that feels good for everyday web browsing and general use.</p><p> The Type R is a fairly heavy 140 grams with two AA batteries, and it’s definitely not a premium mouse. While the scroll wheel feels good, it’s only faintly notched, making precise scrolling in intense games difficult. It uses a glossy plastic that easily collects finger grease, and of course there’s no specialized driver software to go along with the mouse. If you don’t like the DPI options, you’ll have to adjust sensitivity in-game. While gaming, I preferred the feel of the lighter, slightly smaller E-Blue Cobra, which is an even cheaper mouse. Both lack the features of more expensive gaming mice&mdash;software, smart power management, more finely-tuned body designs and better plastics&mdash;but for $21, it’s a far better mouse than I expected.</p><h4><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SWF650E/?tag=pcgedit-20">MPOW Dragon Slayer</a></h4><p> One of many cheap, seemingly direct-from-China wireless gaming mice on Amazon, the Dragon Slayer is surprisingly decent for $25. Its sensor supports 1000/1600/2400/4000 DPI steps, the click feedback feels good, and it even has a switch to adjust report rate from 250 to 500 Hz. Great features for a budget mouse, but I never got used to the Dragon Slayer while gaming. It has a very wide body and a button next to left-click with a terrible mushy click action.</p><p> The MPOW Dragon Slayer is overall similar to the E-Blue Mazer Type R. If you like a pinky rest and a wider mouse, the Dragon Slayer is the one for you. But if you prefer a smaller, thinner mouse, I recommend the cheaper Cobra.</p><h4><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J9R0RTO/?tag=pcgedit-20">Easterntimestech Redragon M620</a></h4><p> This mouse feels every bit as cheap as it is. Rattly, brittle plastic that seems like it’ll break if you squeeze just a bit too hard. The grips don’t feel good, and neither does the mouse wheel. It also has no lights, no indication of your DPI step, no on/off button. Considering you get all those things with the E-Blue Cobra, which costs $5 more, there’s no reason to consider the M620.</p><h4><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Q91KNKG/?tag=pcgedit-20">Easterntimes Tech X-08</a></h4><p> This mouse has, quite simply, the worst click feel of any mouse I’ve ever used or touched. It’s disgustingly soft and rubbery. It’s so bad it often doesn’t feel like it’s clicking, even though it does. I think. To its credit, the 2.4GHz wireless seems to be working fine, and the grips on the sides are decent, but quickly feel oily. This is a mouse that functions, but the only reason to buy it is to appreciate how much better every other mouse you’ve ever touched actually is. Touching the X-08 is like watching Transformers 4 and realizing that, yes, these movies actually can get worse, and you’ll miss your old gaming mouse the way you miss Shia LaBeouf and his stupid parents. You didn’t know a movie could make you miss Shia LaBeouf, but at least his movies had some soul.</p><p> This mouse sucks, but it’s still not quite as bad as Transformers 4.</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> League of Legends adding "Hide Eye Candy" optionhttp://www.pcgamer.com/league-of-legends-adding-hide-eye-candy-option/The option to switch off some of the background effects was requested by "our more competitive players."Mon, 18 May 2015 21:21:49 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/league-of-legends-adding-hide-eye-candy-option/League of LegendsMOBANewsRiot Games <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7AgNjvUoStG9.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5-pmBHzIkosE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="League of Legends"></p><p>The thing about competitive gaming is that eye candy really isn't part of the experience. The prettiest backdrops in the world don't mean a thing if you lose. So Riot is adding an option to <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/league-of-legends/">League of Legends</a> that will make it easier to tune out the background noise.</p><p>"Recently we added an option to the Game tab in the menu called 'Hide Eye Candy'," Riot JxE wrote in the <a href="http://boards.pbe.leagueoflegends.com/en/c/champions-gameplay-feedback/BeVx3AQd-hide-eye-candy-menu-option">League of Legends forums</a>. "Some of our more competitive players requested the the option to hide some of the less subtle movement on Summoner's Rift. We added the option to disable things like butterfiles, dragonfiles and the water wakes to help competitive players focus on what they care about, the gameplay."</p><p>Old-timers may recall cranking down the resolution in Quake to maximize framerates and thus the opportunity to get on the trigger before the other guy. But that was about squeezing every last drop of performance out of hardware that could sometimes be overwhelmed by all the on-screen action, whereas this toggle simply does away with potential sources of distraction.The concept is essentially the same, though: sacrificing visual quality for a better competitive edge.</p><p>The hookups should be enabled in the next PBE [Public Beta Environment] deployment, he wrote, adding, "Only ambient critters that persist after 1:55 will be disabled by this option. You can continue to perfect the dark ritual necessary to spawn the Duck." I have no idea what that means, but I assume it's important somehow.</p> The Witcher 3 story primer: catch up on the essentialshttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-story-primer-catch-up-on-the-essentials/Need a refresher on the characters, politics, and events of The Witcher and The Witcher 2? Here you go.Mon, 18 May 2015 20:40:28 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-story-primer-catch-up-on-the-essentials/RPGThe WitcherThe Witcher 2: Assassins of KingsThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/wSlVGsTSQC2V.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/sCmNBiLRTJfE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 2 Art Header"></p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-everything-you-need-to-know/">The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt</a> is a daunting game: a huge, open world RPG and the end of a trilogy starring monster hunter Geralt of Rivia. What do you need to be prepared? First comes brushing up on the events of The Witcher and The Witcher 2, Geralt’s previous video game adventures. Both are big games, dense with characters and political machinations. But that’s not the beginning and end of the Witcher-verse. Geralt’s origins lie in a series of novels by author Andrzej Sapkowski, and guess what? Some important characters from those novels will be showing up in The Witcher 3.</p><p> You don’t have to be well-versed in the Witcher novels to understand what’s going on in Wild Hunt: the games are spin-offs, and thus don’t tie directly into the events of the books. But Wild Hunt does pull in characters from those books, and reading a bit about Geralt’s relationships with them will help you hit the ground running in Wild Hunt.</p><p> If you want to go into The Witcher 3 knowing more about, well, everything, we’re here to help. We’ll cover the basics below, but we’re also assembling some of our favorite recaps and lore resources from around the web. There’s already someone out there who could do it better than we ever could, so let the savviest Witcher 3 superfans help fill you in on everything you need to know.</p><h2>Important characters and their backgrounds</h2><p>These are some of the major players in The Witcher 3 and the Witcher series in general, but they're hardly the only ones. For more background, look up Roche and Iorveth from The Witcher 2, King Radovid of Redania,&nbsp;and Vesemir of the witchers.</p><h4><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mQeDbTubTgK4.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uCUuZZsQCi6o.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 3 Geralt"></p></h4><h4>Geralt of Rivia</h4><p> Our hero Geralt is a witcher, a monster hunter trained since childhood to be fearsome warriors, skilled in combat, tracking, magic, and more. Witchers are given mutagens to make them stronger, faster, and resistant to toxic alchemy. Geralt, also known as the White Wolf, is the protagonist of the Witcher novels and games. He has a relationship with Triss Merigold, and his personality and politics are largely left up to the player. Witchers are meant to remain detached from conflict without taking political sides, but in the first two Witcher games, Geralt often has to make a choice between aiding humans or the persecuted non-humans. As mutants, witchers comfortably fit in neither camp.</p><p> At the beginning of the first Witcher game, Geralt is found near the Witcher stronghold of Kaer Morhen, wounded, with his memory stolen by amnesia. Geralt recovers his memory over the course of The Witcher 2 and recalls that he was killed by a pitchfork-wielding villager while defending a group of nonhumans. His former lover, the sorceress Yennefer, died trying to bring him back. But both were saved by Ciri’s magical powers, and they lived in peace until Yennefer was taken by the Wild Hunt. Geralt tracked them and made a trade: his life for Yennefer’s. She was freed, and Geralt rode with the Hunt until he somehow made his escape, which is where The Witcher 1 picks up. When Geralt discovers Yennefer is alive, he sets out to find her.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WNqFpTVzRSmI.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VO83K2KPZk_G.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 3 Triss"></p><h4>Triss Merigold</h4><p> A powerful sorceress and Geralt’s on-again, off-again lover. Triss is a friend to the witchers and sometimes stays with them at Kaer Morhen. She saves Geralt’s life more than once in The Witcher 1, and again plays a key role in The Witcher 2. She is kidnapped by the kingslayer witcher Letho, and her fate is up to Geralt’s actions. At the beginning of the Witcher 3, she and Geralt are separated, as Geralt is riding across the Northern Kingdoms in search of Yennefer.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/eBC_jk95QTCI.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/a57DZsZFfYB1.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 3 Yennefer"></p><h4>Yennefer of Vengenberg</h4><p> A sorceress and Geralt’s lover in the Andrzej Sapkowski novels. Yennefer makes her first game appearance in flashbacks in The Witcher 2, as Geralt regains his memory. Yennefer dies trying to heal Geralt after he defends a group of nonhumans from an angry mob. Both are brought to live by Ciri, who Yennefer helped train in magic. Yennefer is later taken by the Wild Hunt and rescued by Geralt; when she returns to the earthly plain she has amnesia, and makes her way across the wartorn Northern Kingdoms in search of Ciri.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LdnMSI9ZS3WY.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RAdwrQGIKL_R.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 3 Ciri"></p><h4>Ciri</h4><p> Ciri is a source, someone born with innate (and likely enormous) magical powers. She makes her first appearance in The Witcher 3, so all of her backstory comes from the Andrzej Sapkowski novels. She is the daughter of Emperor Emhyr var Emreis of Nilfgaard. As a child, after both her parents are believed to be dead, Geralt takes Ciri to Kaer Morhen to train as a witcher. She later brings Geralt and Yennefer back to life using her magical powers, before teleporting herself out of the world of The Witcher into another realm. At the beginning of The Witcher 3, she has apparently returned and is somewhere in the Northern Kingdoms, pursued by the Wild Hunt for her powers as a source.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kPU-7nOAQCeX.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xNEJdYZxynPI.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 3 Emperor Emhyr"></p><h4>Emperor Emhyr var Emreis</h4><p> The Emperor of Nilfgaard and father to Ciri. As The Witcher 3 begins, Emhyr var Emreis has invaded the Northern Kingdoms and taken up rule in Vizima, capital of Temeria. He is in search of his daughter Ciri. Prior to becoming emperor, Emhyr var Emreis was cursed and turned into a monster. His father, the emperor, was killed, and Emhyr var Emreis traveled for a time under an assumed name, fathering Ciri, before eventually freeing himself from the curse and returning to Nilfgaard to take the throne.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LvWAUrkDR-iz.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tIqgZOuxBgQ1.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher Letho"></p><h4>Letho</h4><p> A witcher and the kingslayer, murderer of Temeria’s King Foltest and former companion of Geralt of Rivia. Letho is the main antagonist of The Witcher 2, as Geralt is hunting Letho as Foltest’s killer. At the end of The Witcher 2 Geralt learns that he once saved Letho’s life, and Letho once rode with him to save Yennefer from The Wild Hunt. When Geralt traded his life to the Hunt for Yennefer’s, he entrusted Letho with Yennefer’s life. Letho reveals to Geralt that he assassinated the rulers of the Northern Kingdoms while working for Emhyr var Emreis of Nilfgaard, as a prelude to a Nilfgaard invasion of the north. At the end of The Witcher 2, Geralt can choose to kill Letho or let him go free.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/wtNWnbA8Qpe-.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zE-Tyj8R7U5u.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 3 Dandelion"></p><h4>Dandelion</h4><p> A bard, and Geralt’s friend. He’s renowned across the land as one of its greatest bards, and often tells tales of Geralt of Rivia. His stories are often used as narration in the Witcher games.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/pHH3SyRWR8u6.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/G_6v7mavZ1Kv.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher Zoltan"></p><h4>Zoltan Chivay</h4><p> A dwarven warrior and another of Geralt’s friends. He was at the battle where Geralt was slain, and appears in both Witcher games as an ally to Geralt and oppressed non-humans.</p><h2>What is the Wild Hunt?</h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0DXV3K5rS0em.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/MzdqwnDHH5oM.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher King Of Wild Hunt"></p><p> Like the horsemen of the apocalypse, the Wild Hunt are a group of spectral riders who appear as an omen of war. They kill and take some mortals to become new wraith riders. The Wild Hunt is in search of Ciri, who has escaped their clutches before. In the first Witcher game, the King of the Wild Hunt appears to Geralt multiple times as a spectre, and Geralt fights him for the soul of Jacques de Aldersberg, Grand Master of the Order of the Flaming Rose.</p><p> At one time, Geralt rode with the Hunt after giving his soul for Yennefer’s. He somehow escaped. As Geralt says, all witchers know that wraiths cannot be killed, only driven away, but it seems that at times they take physical form, as Geralt, Letho, and other witchers killed some of the riders before Geralt agreed to ride with them. The Wild Hunt’s ability to appear and disappear as spectral riders seems to be connected to the parallel worlds alluded to at the beginning of The Witcher 3.</p><h2>An infographic overview of the world of The Witcher and Geralt’s journey</h2><p> <a href="http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1037371">This great infographic from NeoGAF member EatChildern</a> intentionally keeps things simple. It doesn’t pull on wiki resources or Sapkowski’s novels, instead recounting information you can pick up from playing the first two games. It’s an easy way to grasp the basics of the political factions like the non-human Scoia’tael freedom fighters, the Northern Kingdoms and the Nilfgaardian Empire.</p><p> The second half of the infographic briefly recaps the major story events of The Witcher and The Witcher 2 that will tie into the third game. Even if you’ve played the first two games, it’s a quick, focused refresher.</p><p><a href="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/lKxj_NvCT2aX.png"> </a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EjWw7p9SRUCe.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Km4zMqI29NBV.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Click on the image to view the full infographic." class=""></p><p><em>Click on the image to view the full infographic.</em></p><p><a href="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/lKxj_NvCT2aX.png" target="_blank"> </a></p><h2>The setting of The Witcher 3</h2><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">Witcher 3 map</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RYJOOparTjCs.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/SeC-Bw6I_iIz.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 3 Northern Realms Map" style="background-color: initial;"></p></div><p> There are a lot of country and city names thrown around in the first few hours of The Witcher 3, and even if you remember those names from previous games, you may not remember where everything is. So, MAPS!</p><p> The large map to the right, made for The Witcher 3, depicts the portions of the Northern Kingdoms explorable in The Witcher 3. When The Wild Hunt Begins, the Empire of Nilfgaard has invaded the Northern Kingdoms from the south, occupying large swaths of territory. The Witcher 3 is mostly set in the center of this conflict, in the southernmost part of the Northern Kingdoms. One of those kingdoms is Temeria, where The Witcher 1 is set, and it has already been conquered by Nilfgaard.</p><p> The map below shows the boundaries of the Northern Kingdoms before the events of The Witcher 3, and depicts the land to the north of Novigrad that isn’t visible in The Witcher 3’s map. The significant kingdoms here are Redania and Kaedwen, who are still at war with the invading Nilfgaard. Can you Rivia?</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PWWI__6QQ0W5.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/wFHUFUBOtjc-.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher 1 World Map"></p><h2>What happened in The Witcher 1?</h2><p> This video is an efficient, well-edited story walkthrough of CD Projekt Red’s first Witcher game from 2007. It follows the game’s main plot and touches on some moments that will tie into The Witcher 3, like Geralt’s encounters with the King of the Wild Hunt.</p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/YiqMr0OvQog" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p> If you’d rather see the game’s events play out without narration, <a href="https://youtu.be/ZHwa-7LBfV4?t=10s">you can watch this “movie version” of The Witcher</a>, which compresses the the game into three hours of cutscenes, dialogue, and key gameplay sequences.</p><h2>What happened in The Witcher 2?</h2><p> A second video from the same creators as the one highlighted above covers the events of The Witcher 2, released in 2011. In CD Projekt Red’s second Witcher game, Geralt recovers some crucial memories lost to to amnesia before the events of the first game. He remembers how he and his former lover, the sorceress Yennefer, were nearly killed by an angry mob while defending non-humans. The two were saved by Ciri, who is a “source,” someone born with innate (and powerful) magical capabilities. When Yennefer is taken by the spectral Wild Hunt, he tracks them down, exchanging his life for Yennefer’s. Some time later he escapes the hunt, leading to his appearance at the beginning of The Witcher 1.</p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/JSftIRQzYCM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p> At the end of The Witcher 2, the Empire of Nilfgaard to the south begins its invasion of the Northern Kingdoms, chaos successfully sewn by Letho’s assassinations of kings.</p><p> If you’d rather see the game’s events play out without narration, you can watch movie versions of both Witcher 2 paths, which total three hours of cutscenes, dialogue, and key gameplay sequences.</p><p> The Witcher 2 Iorveth path: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiejupbcF5A">part one</a> and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQsYQ4XN7Mc">part two</a>.</p><p> The Witcher 2 Roche path: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp99aS0-foo">part one</a> and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bD_PGKA935o">part two</a>.</p><h2>Does the outcome of The Witcher 2 matter in The Witcher 3?</h2><p> Yes. You can import a save file from The Witcher 2 into The Witcher 3, and certain decisions affect the state of the world (and the fates of some characters) at the start of The Wild Hunt. If you don’t have a save file, you can also simulate a Witcher 2 save by making the key choices that carry over to The Witcher 3.</p> Old friends return in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt launch trailerhttp://www.pcgamer.com/old-friends-return-in-the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-launch-trailer/Some unexpected faces turn up in the Witcher 3 launch trailer.Mon, 18 May 2015 20:33:49 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/old-friends-return-in-the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-launch-trailer/CD ProjektNewsRPGThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hBoCRYX6Vq0?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;vq=small&amp;autoplay=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> Riddle me this, Geralt: When is a <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt/">Witcher 3</a> launch trailer not a launch trailer? When it's a "<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-launch-cinematic-is-here/">launch cinematic</a>," apparently, because the real launch trailer is here today.</p><p> I actually prefer the more personal tone&nbsp;of the cinematic, but this trailer does a thorough job of setting up Geralt's relationship with Yennefer and Ciri, two characters who feature prominently in the Witcher lore but haven't yet appeared in the games.&nbsp;</p><p>It's nice to see some other familiar faces turn up too, including Dandelion (I think that's him, anyway), Zoltan, Triss, and&mdash;surprise!&mdash;Roche. Could this be a sign that the Roche path in The Witcher 2 will be taken as canon? Alas, poor Iorveth! I knew him, Yarpen. (And I hope he's in the game, too.)</p><p> We'll find out soon enough. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be out in just a few hours. (Which I'm pretty sure also means there shouldn't&nbsp;be any more launch videos, but don't bet the Witcherlings college fund it.) Our reviewer has been playing the game over the weekend and we'll have the verdict up in a few days.</p> Defunded: How Kickstarter trolls use hope as a weaponhttp://www.pcgamer.com/how-kickstarter-trolls-use-hope-as-a-weapon/How€7,000 disappeared in the final hours ofDimension Drive's Kickstarter campaign.Mon, 18 May 2015 20:17:47 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/how-kickstarter-trolls-use-hope-as-a-weapon/Kickstarter <p> <img src="http://fat.gfycat.com/SmugCooperativeInsect.gif"></p><p> As the clock ticked toward midnight on May 13, David Jimenez and Alejandro Santiago were deep into late-night party mode. The founders of&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/2awesomestudio">2Awesome Studio</a> were trying to raise money for their newest game, Dimension Drive. Despite their all-night efforts, they were coming up over €7,500 short of their <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2awesomestudio/dimension-drive/description">Kickstarter funding goal</a> with four hours left on the clock. They were determined to have a good time, chatting with fans and <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/2awesomestudio/c/6686205">livestreaming themselves</a> lounging on a couch and playing their game. The stream chat suddenly became&nbsp;restless and Jimenez put down his controller, looking off-camera. His mouth dropped open. “What?” he asked, sitting up. Seconds later, he’s yelling, his palms on his forehead. “WHAT?!” A mystery donor gave them €7,000, bringing them inches from success.</p><p> Three hours after the screaming and spontaneous happy dance, Kickstarter integrity checkers would discover that the massive pledge was fraudulent, a prank made with a stolen credit card. The amount and the timing of the pledge made Dimension Drive go from funded to unfunded with 31 minutes remaining in 2Awesome’s month-long campaign.</p><p> “Honestly speaking, it has been an exhausting month for us. We have been working really hard to make our campaign a success, and right now we are speechless, demoralized,” Jimenez told PC Gamer from the Netherlands that night. “We really do not know what exactly happened.”</p><h2>Trusted platform</h2><p>Plenty of Kickstarter-funded games have been big successes&mdash;<a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/larianstudios/divinity-original-sin/video_share">Elite: Dangerous</a> and <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/larianstudios/divinity-original-sin/video_share">Divinity: Original Sin</a>, for instance&mdash;but there have also been infamous failures, such as <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/winterkewlgames/yogventures">Yogventures</a>, which raised its money and failed to deliver. That risk and uncertainty is perhaps part of the platform’s allure, but also its biggest weakness. More than money, Kickstarter traffics in high-grade, uncut hope.</p><p> Sometimes, though, the let-down runs from backer to creator instead of the other way around. Backers can cancel their support during a campaign, or pledges from invalid credit cards bounce immediately after funding ends. “This one is particularly cruel, and not something that's supposed to happen,”&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/tha_rami" target="_blank">Rami Ismail</a>, part of indie studio Vlambeer, told PC Gamer hours after the Dimension Drive Kickstarter failed. “Usually, the campaign finishes and people just suddenly hear they're getting less than they should, but at least that's ‘less’ and not ‘nothing,’ and they can figure out whether to cancel and refund the other pledges at that point. It's the timing that makes this one absurd.”</p><p> Kickstarter tries to protect creators and backers with a few rules. Backers can’t cancel a pledge in the last 24 hours of a campaign, a rule designed to guard creators from uncertainty in the final hours of the push. Kickstarter itself also checks incoming pledges to make sure they’re on the up-and-up, usually cancelling obvious frauds within a few hours. Because it was made only four hours away from Dimension Drive’s deadline, this fraudulent €7,000 pledge had just enough lead time to get caught by the integrity team and removed when it would sting the most.</p><p> Kickstarter responded publicly to Dimension Drive’s public pranking with a short statement: “We work hard to keep Kickstarter a safe and trusted platform. Our Integrity Team actively monitors the system with a range of tools, and acts on reports from our community. We don’t tolerate abuse of our system, and when we identify users who are acting in bad faith, we don’t hesitate to take action.“</p><p> According to Jimenez, Kickstarter called the team in the Netherlands and expressed their unhappiness with the way the last hours of the campaign unfolded. Speaking anonymously, a Kickstarter representative told PC Gamer that they’re looking into ways to keep this kind of thing from happening again. This source wasn’t able to go into specifics or describe what a new policy might look like.</p><h2> A small price</h2><p> “People make a big deal out of fraud on Kickstarter but the fact is, these are extreme edge cases,” Max Temkin told PC Gamer. The creator of successful Kickstarter projects <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/maxtemkin/cards-against-humanity">Cards Against Humanity</a> and <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/maxtemkin/werewolf-0">Werewolf</a>, Temkin is a proponent of crowdfunding in general. “The vast majority of successfully funded Kickstarter projects are a great interaction for backers and project creators. Of course there is always the risk of something really sad and surprising like this happening, but that's just part of the risk of making a new thing with a big group of people. That's a risk backers and creators have to be OK with if they use Kickstarter, but it's a small price to pay for the other ways in which Kickstarter reduces risk.”</p><p> It’s impossible for anyone outside of Kickstarter’s integrity team to know how often this kind of fraudulent trolling happens, but it usually isn’t as devastating as what happened to Dimension Drive. Elyot Grant, the co-founder of Ontario-based Lunarch Studios, told PC Gamer that the same thing happened during the Kickstarter for its game, <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lunarchstudios/prismata-a-new-hybrid-game-of-pure-strategy/video_share">Prismata</a>.</p><p> “About three days before our kickstarter ended, we had an $8,000 pledge. It was the maximum amount [allowed by Kickstarter in Canada]. We kind of raised our eyebrows about it. ‘Why would anyone want to give us 8,000?’” The team had received some large donations, but they had come from industry friends or long-time fans of the game. “This came out of the blue. Then it was gone four hours later.” Grant isn’t sure if this pledge was removed by Kickstarter as fraudulent or cancelled by the backer as a joke, but because it occurred before the final twenty-four-hour window, it could have been either.</p><p> “Kickstarter pledges are stressful,” Grant says, referring to last-minute gambit’s like 2Awesome’s all-night livestream party. “[Y]ou feel like you can do anything, everything, and it’s never enough.” On balance, though, Grant agrees with Temkin that Kickstarter is worth it&mdash;and for more than just money. “What Kickstarter provides isn’t just the money, but the community. Kickstarter made our server five times as busy and to this day it’s still way busier than before Kickstarter. And the feedback we get from this playerbase that arose as a result of Kickstarter is of tremendous value to us.”</p><p>Immediately after their fundraising drive failed, Dimension Drive reached out to Kickstarter and asked for an extension, a few more hours on the clock to redo the end of their fundraiser without troll influence. Kickstarter, unfortunately, does not have a way to add hours to an expired campaign. The only option is to relaunch the campaign and do the last month of work over again, something that the wrung-out team didn’t want to think about at the time.</p><p> “Starting from scratch is something that we [won’t] consider now. We are too exhausted,” Jimenez told PC Gamer that night. After a couple of days of worldwide sympathy, though, 2Awesome was feeling decidedly more optimistic. “After all the support we've had from all over the world. People calling us, sending us e-mails, [tweets]... We have decided to fight again one more time and re-launch after the weekend,” Jimenez said. “On Monday, we will re-launch our campaign and work one more time to try to make it.”</p><p><em>After a weekend of gathering momentum and building up their spirits, 2Awesome relaunched a new <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2awesomestudio/dimension-drive-jack-is-back">Dimension Drive Kickstarter</a>. “During our last kickstarter we were trolled,” the page reads. “We were played, we were taken for a fool, and we were gutted. But you guys helped us back up and that just goes to show that through the power of community we can do anything.”</em></p> Becoming a golden druid: a tale of obsessionhttp://www.pcgamer.com/becoming-a-golden-druid-a-tale-of-obsession/The joy of achievable goals and falling leaves.Mon, 18 May 2015 19:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/becoming-a-golden-druid-a-tale-of-obsession/BlizzardCard GameHearthstone <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/MMKUhoA8QcGo.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ONzXqFYinrnL.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Hearthstone"></p><p>Long before I worked on PC Gamer, I was told an anecdote about two of its writers that has stuck with me ever since. The two are passing on the stairs of the local dive club, and I’m definitely paraphrasing now, but the conversation goes something like this:</p><p>“I get it. I know what I love about games.” </p><p>“Yeah?”</p><p>“Achievable goals.”</p><p>Maybe that seems obvious to you now, but it wasn’t to me then, and the idea burrowed into my brain. A big part of what I enjoy about games is seeing how their systems and rules mesh together. Provided you understand how the layers operate, and are prepared to put in enough time, in most games you eventually get what you want. The rest of life doesn’t work like that. </p><p>So it’s weird that I love the draw-dependent, RNG-fest that is Hearthstone so much. I’ve played it, and obsessed over it, pretty much non-stop since it came out of beta. There are achievable goals, sure, but not many. Rank 20 for a card back. 12 wins in Arena. The misty summit of the Legend rank. None of those are for me. I’m not an Arena guy, rank 20 is facile, and I tell myself I don’t have the patience or time to hit Legend. (Largely because I’m scared to tryhard and come up short.)</p><p>But this season I found a way to give my usual aimless ladder grind some structure. I noticed at reset that on Druid, which I main, I was about 100 wins shy of the 500 needed to unlock the golden portrait. For non-’stoners still reading this&mdash;welcome!&mdash;the golden portrait transforms your flat hero avatar into a glittering, subtly animated version. Malfurion Stormrage, the Druid guy, gets a swishy green beard and an endless loop of falling leaves. Plus an occasional sparkle on his bevel. </p><p>It’s a minor cosmetic upgrade in recognition of the hours you’ve notched in Ranked mode, and once I decided I wanted it, the idea pretty much consumed me. Despite the not at all significant matter of helping to organise the PC’s <a href="http://www.pcgamingshow.com/">first dedicated show at E3</a> next month, I began carving out time every day to play. First thing when I woke up. A couple of games at lunch. Another burst when I got home but not right before bed because losing angered my blood up too badly. </p><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title" style="margin-left: 0px;">My deck</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/i8YbGanhRei1.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ovbQCW4fhcJ8.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Hearthstone" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p>Kezan Mystic and Harrison Jones are tech choices, but I saw enough Rogue, Mage and Hunter to justify both.</p></div><p>Actually, the fact I wasn’t shooting for a particular rank took a little bit of the pressure off in terms of win/loss ratio. I did the math and worked out how many wins a day I needed to stay on target, and so long as I racked those up the losses didn’t really matter. I decided early not to deliberately tank games to stay at a low rank, which would have made the process much easier but felt shabby.</p><p>What did complicate matters slightly was the fact that, though still obviously a strong class, Druid arguably isn’t in the best spot in terms of the meta this month. Both Grim Patron Warrior and the new Zoo with the bastard Imp Gang bosses were rampant. I eventually got better at those matchups, and tech-ed my deck accordingly, swapping Senj’in Shieldmastas in for Piloted Shredders and running Harrison Jones for some weapon hate.</p><p>Though not trying to reach Legend, I still leaned heavily on the tips from players on the <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/CompetitiveHS">Competitive Hearthstone subreddit</a>. The consistent advice there is not to swap decks often when you’re trying to climb, but stick with one and become intimately familiar with how it performs against common decks on ladder. Another biggie was to stop playing whenever you can feel yourself getting tilted by a flurry of losses. As per my previous piece <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-help-tips-for-overcoming-ladder-anxiety/">regarding ladder anxiety</a>, I also found listening to music and always ending on a good win, even if you want to play more, also helped. </p><p>I’m not cured completely of the yips, of course, and still feel an ominous stomach lurch as I hit ‘play’ for the first time each session, but the sheer number of games I was having, plus the ultimate inevitability of the goal I was going for, took a lot of the edge off. I knew I was good enough to maintain a higher than 50% winrate, so I also knew that as long as I played about six games a day I would comfortably reach the goal before my entirely arbitrary deadline. </p><p>In fact it happened much earlier, just past halfway through the month. Fittingly, I was playing a control Warrior with their own flame-bathed golden hero portrait. It’s one of my least liked matchups, but midway into it, having earlier Innervated out an Emperor Thaurissan on turn four and later Big Game Hunter-ed his Nefarian, the realisation started seeping through me that it was almost done. This was the one.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/MhKle7VNRlac.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_xdswistd03M.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The moment of glory. (He quit before I could deliver the death blow.)" class=""><figcaption>The moment of glory. (He quit before I could deliver the death blow.)</figcaption></figure><p>And if you’re hoping that at that point I realised what a pointless exercise the whole thing had been, well, sorry, nope. If anything it was better. Even before I top decked one of the two Druid of the Claws I knew were in my last seven cards, I felt enveloped by this huge sense of calm and couldn't stop smiling. As the charging cat hit the board he hit concede and I started spamming PrtScn on my keyboard. Let the record show I am 38 years old.</p><p>Achievable goals. Every time I play now, and look at those little leaves falling, I’ll remember this daft project I set myself. Remember the game where the BM-ing Face Hunter quit with me on two health because he thought I had the combo (but in fact only had half of it). Remember squeaking out a win on my phone on a train platform sat next to Evan. Remember losing to a mill Druid and feeling a weird sense of solidarity rather than than usual saltiness. Remember my girlfriend’s relieved-looking smile as I showed her the green beard and her being happy that I was so dumbly pleased with it. I’ve left it at rank five, but I guess there’s still time, and I can already feel the absence of having a defined target. Do I push on?</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qK4cOMRPStia.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zSG1vjr5HvZI.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Hearthstone 500 wins" style="background-color: initial;"></p> Sunset launch trailer promises high drama and housekeepinghttp://www.pcgamer.com/sunset-launch-trailer-promises-high-drama-and-housekeeping/Sunset, the latest game from Tale of Tales, will be out later this week.Mon, 18 May 2015 18:16:43 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/sunset-launch-trailer-promises-high-drama-and-housekeeping/AdventureNewsSunsetTale of Tales <iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/128021330?color=ff9933" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" width="500"></iframe><p> Tale of Tales is the studio that made a "social screensaver" about roaming through a magical forest as a deer with a creepily human face; a graveyard-visiting simulator, in which you could sit and contemplate the nature of life and death, and possibly die in the process; a game about sex that I couldn't get past second base with; and now, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/sunset/">Sunset</a>, which by comparison looks fairly conventional, yet still entirely unique.</p><p> The game&nbsp;takes place over the course of a year in the early 1970s, in the fictional South American city of San Bavón. Civil war has engulfed the nation, but you'll experience the world around you not as a fighter, but as a housekeeper, tasked with tidying the swanky apartment of Gabriel Ortega on a weekly basis. Which isn't to say that cleaning is all you can do; it's possible that you could be swept up in the revolution, too&mdash;or you can just keep your head down and go about your business.</p><p> I've been a fan of Tale of Tales' work going back to <a href="http://tale-of-tales.com/TheEndlessForest/index.html">The Endless Forest</a>, and I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on Sunset, which looks to be its most ambitious work yet. It comes out on May 21.&nbsp;</p> This week’s PC gaming dealshttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-pc-game-deals/The best PC gaming deals of the week.Mon, 18 May 2015 18:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-pc-game-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! Each week, we have our&nbsp;bargainmeisters bring you a list of the best component, accessory, and software sales for PC gamers.</p><p>Some highlights of this week: The Radeon R9 290X gpu is on sale at Newegg. They also have the a Corsair Air cube case discounted if you are looking to give your PC a new set of clothes. Super Meat Boy is old, but still very good and&nbsp;currently very cheap. Gamestop has discounts on Diablo 3 and its expansion. The Command and Conquer Ultimate Edition, containing 17 games and expansions, is only $6 on GamersGate.</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 style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>The <strong>Logitech G230 headset</strong> is <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BFOEY4I/?tag=pcgedit-20&amp;ascsubtag=PCGDeals">$40 on Amazon</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>The <strong>Saphire TRI-X Radeon R9 290X graphics card</strong> is <a href="http://fave.co/1EXKVko">$300 on Newegg</a> after a $20 and comes with <strong>Dirt Rally</strong> free.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong></strong>If you are looking for a cheap IPS panel, the <strong>AOC i2267Fw 22” monitor </strong>is <a href="http://fave.co/1EXLpXL">$120 on Newegg</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>The <strong>Corsair Carbide Air 540 ATX cube case </strong>is <a href="http://fave.co/1EXLpak">$90 on Newegg</a> after a $20 rebate and with the code <strong>EMCASKS47</strong></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>The <strong>Command and Conquer Ultimate Collection</strong> is <a href="http://fave.co/1EXISgr">$6 on GamersGate</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong>Super Meat Boy</strong> is only <a href="http://fave.co/1dfDMVV">$3.74 on GamersGate</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong>Dragon Age Inquisition</strong> is <a href="http://fave.co/1EXJmDh">$36 on Gamestop.com</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;</strong>&nbsp;<a href="http://fave.co/1dfDFd4">Diablo 3</a> and its <a href="http://fave.co/1EXIM8l">Reaper of Souls</a> expansion are discounted to $20 each on Gamestop.com</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong>Civilization: Beyond Earth</strong> is half off for <a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/65980/">$25 on Steam</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> Brian Fargo interview: Wasteland, Torment, and the new Bard's Talehttp://www.pcgamer.com/brian-fargo-interview-wasteland-torment-and-the-new-bards-tale/InXile Entertainment will soon return to Kickstarter in search of backing for a new Bard's Tale.Mon, 18 May 2015 17:28:12 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/brian-fargo-interview-wasteland-torment-and-the-new-bards-tale/Brian FargointerviewinXile EntertainmentRPGThe Bard's Tale IV <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LEHADnmLRp20.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/sKDTHtP947FI.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Brian Fargo"></p><p>Brian Fargo is two-for-two on Kickstarter. In 2012, his studio inXile Entertainment pulled in more than $2.9 million to make <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/wasteland-2/">Wasteland 2</a>, and a year later backers gave it nearly $4.2 million to make <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/torment-tides-of-numenera/">Torment: Tides of Numenera</a>. He's done well enough with it that there's no temptation to return to the conventional publishing model, even though at this point he probably could. </p><p>Fargo said Wasteland 2 has sold around 350,000 copies ahead of the Game of the Year edition coming soon to consoles&mdash;and publishers are "so much nicer now" than they used to be. But crowdfunding is a healthier process, he said, that affords more freedom to focus on making the game rather than having to constantly "prove yourself" by hitting arbitrary milestones. It's also better for a studio's future projects: The success of Wasteland 2, both on Kickstarter and through Early Access sales, meant more money that could be invested into Torment and inXile's next project, The Bard's Tale.</p><p>The new Bard's Tale is a true sequel to the original Bard's Tale trilogy, and, title notwithstanding, unrelated to the 2004 action-RPG release. That game came about in part because Fargo had the trademark, but not the copyright; since then, he's been able to strike a deal with EA, and now he has both. "This is a proper sequel," he said. "This is what you guys are hoping for and wanting."</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/eHMOBcWiR76N.gif" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/IBQRc8JnsaV4.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Bard's Tale"></p><p>The game will take place a century or so after the events of Thief of Fate, the third (and decidedly final) game in the trilogy. That temporal distance will let developers "call back" to the original games without being shackled to them: Much like Wasteland 2, prior Bard's Tale experience won't be necessary to enjoy and understand this one, but players who have it will at times have a deeper insight into what's going on.</p><p>"We recognize that there's a group of people that played these games and for them, it's like they finished it yesterday. They want to go into something where they feel like it's a continuation, to some degree, of what they've finished. So I'm very attuned to making sure we hit the right points for people who are real fans of the original series," Fargo said. "But it's a bonus for people who play. We never force that [prior] knowledge on anyone."</p><p>The Bard's Tale will be a decidedly old-school experience, but inXile is working to ensure it's flexible enough to engage and satisfy players who want a more contemporary dungeon crawling experience as well. Die-hards looking forward to a new opportunity to draw out cleanly geometric maps on grid paper will be able to do so, but it will also be possible to "break off the grid," as he put it, and look and wander freely, in real-time.</p><p>"When I'm moving through that dungeon, I want absolute, full screen, particle effects, lighting, ambient music, I want everything to be like I'm <em>there</em>," he explained. "That's where I differ, perhaps, from [other fans of the genre], in that I don't want to have the little window in the upper-left corner, with icons and my guys. I want that part to be fully immersive." During a combat encounter, however, the game will shift to a more conventional "phase-based" mode, with party members represented as on-screen portraits, or perhaps as models in the actual game. "You're still fundamentally in the same scene," Fargo added, "but it becomes phase-based. It doesn't stay in real-time."</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/68JfEPzIR821.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/XptZNMOtKxeJ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Bard's Tale IV"></p><p>And it will be difficult, as befits a proper dungeon crawl, although perhaps not quite so harsh as the original Bard's Tale games, which were <em>really</em> hard. "I look at something like Demon Souls or Bloodborne for references of difficulty," he said. "You can have a big philosophical discussion about where that line should be on those, but the lack of a save game [in the original Bard's Tale] is really what made it difficult. Time is the ultimate variable you can play with. Am I losing five minutes, or am I losing five hours? In the original game, you could lose five hours, and that's probably too much by today's standards. It's not going to be that punishing. But it is going to be difficult."</p><p>"We play all the recent games," he added. "We're not like, 'Gosh, we've been playing 80s and 90s games our whole lives and we just raised our heads up – What should we do?' We've been playing all the latest things, just like everyone else, so we're tuned in to what's acceptable and what's not."</p><p>Wasteland 2 suffered some criticism for having relatively primitive graphics, although the recent Game of the Year update, which includes a move to Unity 5, promises to dramatically improve that aspect of the game. The Bard's Tale, on the other hand, is being built on the Unreal Engine 4, which he said offers the studio an opportunity to be "super-ambitious" and really show off its graphics chops.</p><p>"These incredible demos come out of these engine makers, but they take this tremendous amount of hardware bandwidth to do the particle effects, or the fabrics, the hair, that sort of stuff, so you end up not being able to achieve quite that level of detail in the game because you're giving it up for multiplayer, or 30 enemies running around in real-time, or heavy AI. Whatever's going on, it takes away a lot from it so you don't get that same kind of fidelity," he explained. "The beautiful part about The Bard's Tale is that it's not that kind of game. When you're wandering through this place, we have all of the hardware at our disposal to really dial up all the things that these engines do that are really so beautiful. And because combat stops and is phase-based, it's the same thing. We've got more access to the hardware, so we can do some really interesting things with it."</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/MQ_Q0CjuT6C8.gif" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/SV3pIvjjW6zi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Bard's Tale title"></p><p>Fargo said it's too early in the process to commit to an Early Access release, although given the success inXile had with Wasteland 2 on Early Access, it seems likely. As for the Kickstarter, the team has set a goal of $1.25 million, a little higher than the $900,000 asked for in the previous campaigns. And while he's "always concerned about everything, all the time," Fargo also thinks the studio is in a good position to repeat its past successes. Despite persistent predictions of backer exhaustion, Kickstarter is still going strong&mdash;he pointed out that both Yooka-Laylee and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night could surpass the mark set by Torment&mdash;and in fact has become a relatively mainstream part of the "continuum" of the game-buying process, which also includes Early Access backers, launch-day purchasers, people who grab it when they see it on sale, and, finally, folks who won't go near it until it turns up in a Humble Bundle. "So you can get it anywhere along those points of the line," he said. "I see Kickstarter as just another point in time to get in on the game."</p><p>In spite of everything else the studio has going on, Fargo said inXile's focus right now is squarely on Torment. There's a small team working on the Wasteland Game of the Year release, and a small preproduction team on Bard's Tale, but 90 percent of the company is working on Torment. I'm incredibly excited for Torment&mdash;Planescape: Torment was <em>so good</em>, and it's ridiculous that we've had to wait this long for something similar to come along&mdash;but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little more hyped up for Bard's Tale. There are few things in this life better than a good dungeon crawl, and I suspect The Bard's Tale will be very good indeed.</p><p>The Bard's Tale Kickstarter goes live on June 2.</p> Two images from the Warcraft film appear onlinehttp://www.pcgamer.com/two-images-from-the-warcraft-film-appear-online/It's finally time for a good, up-close look at one of the Orcs who will headline the upcoming Warcraft film.Mon, 18 May 2015 17:23:25 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/two-images-from-the-warcraft-film-appear-online/Blizzard EntertainmentNewswarcraft <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-y4u2AcCRhGq.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gd5oN7a9heMg.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Warcraft Orgrim"></p><p>The first images of Orgrim, one of the orcs who will appear in the upcoming Warcraft film, have appeared on <a href="http://www.wired.com/2015/05/warcraft-orgrim-reveal-exclusive/?mbid=social_twitter">Wired</a>. Created by Industrial Light and Magic, it's fair to say Orgrim looks very orcish indeed.</p><p>Orgrim's startlingly believable rendition is a combination of concept art provided by Blizzard, and photos and scans of actor Robert Kazinsky, who will portray the orc in the movie. The technology involved goes beyond simply making "creatures in movies," director Duncan Jones said. "We now have the technology and the ability to make new characters entirely."</p><p>Kazinsky, who's an avid World of Warcraft fan, described the film's special effects during at <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/warcraft-movie-is-avatar-and-lord-of-the-rings-at-the-same-time/">panel at BlizzCon</a> last year. "You know the cutscenes that Blizzard do for, like, Draenor or the ‘Arthas, My Son’ one?" he said. "It’s like that, but on crack." At the same panel, Jones said the Warcraft film will be "Avatar and Lord of the Rings at the same time," which is something I think I need to see.</p><p>Warcraft is slated to hit theater screens on June 10, 2016.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3XLgkGDmTeqj.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/CJGIOH3NUmyX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Warcraft Orgrim"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/pxbyv-tVSNab.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/SbduUZUkc3f2.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Warcraft Orgrim 2"></p> Casey Hudson joins Microsoft Studios as creative directorhttp://www.pcgamer.com/casey-hudson-joins-microsoft-studios-as-creative-director/Hudson says his primary focus at MIcrosoft will be on the HoloLens.Mon, 18 May 2015 17:19:21 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/casey-hudson-joins-microsoft-studios-as-creative-director/Casey HudsonHoloLensMicrosoftMicrosoft StudiosNews <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/CXU07xkkRlKL.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1u8XLnhQh35e.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Microsoft HoloLens Family Room RGB"></p><p>Long-time BioWare veteran Casey Hudson, best known as the project director on the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/mass-effect/">Mass Effect</a> trilogy, has become creative director at Microsoft Studios. His primary focus at Microsoft will be on the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hololens/">HoloLens</a>, an augmented reality headset announced <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/windows-holographic-and-microsoft-hololens-announced/">earlier this year</a> that will work with a special platform&nbsp;included in Windows 10, called Windows Holographic.</p><p>"I am extremely passionate about the potential of this kind of technology, as anyone who’s talked with me over the last couple of years can attest," Hudson told <a href="http://news.xbox.com/2015/05/xbox-casey-hudson-joins-microsoft-as-creative-director-at-microsoft-studios">Xbox Wire</a>. "I feel that the work being done at Microsoft on mixed reality and holographic computing will have a tremendous impact on how all of us interact with technology in the coming years."</p><p>Hudson will also be working on new Xbox games, and "involved in driving a creative focus for Xbox and Windows gaming." But he said the opportunity to work on HoloLens is what has him particularly excited.</p><p>"I was fortunate to try an early prototype of HoloLens before it was announced, and I was blown away by the technology and what it was already capable of," he said, describing experiences like walking on Mars while drinking coffee in an office setting or skyping with a friend who could draw on his walls. "These first experiences cemented my belief that holographic computing was where I needed to be. There’s no end to the potential of this technology, and I look forward to being able to influence the full-spectrum experience on HoloLens, from hardware to OS, to applications and games."</p><p>Find out what we thought of the HoloLens in our <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/microsoft-hololens-hands-on-the-promise-and-disappointment-of-ar/">hands-on session</a> from January.</p> Learn the fundamentals of CS:GO in these videoshttp://www.pcgamer.com/csgo-guide-video-basics-tutorial-beginners/The truth is that getting better at Counter-Strike by only playing Counter-Strike can be a really slow, ineffective way to get better at Counter-Strike.Mon, 18 May 2015 17:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/csgo-guide-video-basics-tutorial-beginners/Best ofCounter-Strike: Global OffensiveFPSTriggernometry <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/aTlKgVGCRk6o.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2eATVovfRBsI.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Csgo 4"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">TRIGGERNOMETRY</h5> <p> We write about FPSes each week in <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/triggernometry" target="_blank">Triggernometry</a>, a mixture of tips, design criticism, and a celebration of virtual marksmanship. </p> </div><p> When I launch CS:GO and my eyes wander over my ever-growing pile of Hours Played, a thought often eats away at me. <em>I’ve put hundreds of hours into Terrorisming and Counter-Terrorisming&mdash;thousands if you include Source and 1.6. I spend more time playing CS:GO than I do interacting with my loved ones. How the hell am I not a Counter-Strike master yet?</em></p><p> The truth is that getting better at Counter-Strike by only playing Counter-Strike can be a really slow, ineffective way to get better at Counter-Strike. Especially if you aren’t taking the time to watch and analyze your own matches, it’s possible to spend months or years making the same mistakes.</p><p> Fundamental parts of Counter-Strike are opaque. Which surfaces can and can’t be penetrated, and by which weapons?&nbsp; <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-flashbang-cs-go-guide/">How do flashes work?</a> Can a player that loses the first two rounds of a match afford an AWP? You have to be willing to do some homework and take in raw facts about the game, information that drives deeper realizations about how it can be played.</p><p> For me, that learning has opened up a better appreciation of CS. When I embraced it a long time ago, the game went from being about motor skills to being a chess match about money and clock management, scouting, feints, morale, reading audio cues, and play calling.</p><p> That said, there’s an infinite amount of information you can lay eyes on to study. Below, I’ve gathered a set of recommended videos for players who want to gain&nbsp;the confidence to play competitively or get over some of their existing matchmaking hurdles.</p><h3>Rifle spray patterns, techniques</h3><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AXqsSs_VJAs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> Rifles are the bread and butter of Counter-Strike at all levels, and understanding how they work (and their key differences) is equivalent to a basketball player working on their free-throws. CS:GO pro adreN is really direct in his advice (“Never crouch, it has no effect on your recoil”; “You should never start off with a spray at this range”) and talks about how to manage shooting while moving.</p><h3>Money management</h3><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lgw5JESe3TA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> The second of three videos in a series about CS:GO’s economy, TheWarOwl digs into the mentality around buying and saving in CS in the early stages of a match, when adhering to certain guidelines is especially important. I like the way he compares the practice of predicting your opponent’s economy to counting cards in blackjack.</p><h3>Chokepoint timings</h3><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MGG7ExSWFnQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> Counter-Strike is carefully tuned so that CTs and Ts have to rush out of their spawn points in order to establish map control. Playing with the timings (by, say, throwing a grenade at a certain spot to stop a rush) at these meeting points between is central to succeeding at CS.</p><h3>Mouse sensitivity</h3><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ct8U06Wonhk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> “The advice I give to everyone is to make your sensitivity as low as possible while still being able to turn 180 degrees consistently.”</p><h3>Flashbangs</h3><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bF7xpUDs2Gw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> For my money, flashbangs are the least-practiced, most misunderstood aspect of CS. So many players simply go through the motions of buying and carelessly throwing flashbangs without knowing whether (or how) effective they are against an opponent. My video from earlier this year touches on two basic techniques for flashbanging and breaks down the geometric rules that determine whether someone gets blinded by one.</p>