PC Gamer latest storieshttp://www.pcgamer.com/feed/en-usWed, 25 Nov 2015 00:12:00 +0000yesPC Gamer 2015 Holiday Gift Guidehttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-pc-gamer-holiday-gift-guide/The gifts to get the PC gamer in your life, from co-op video games to rad accessories. We won't judge if you buy them for yourself.Wed, 25 Nov 2015 00:12:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-pc-gamer-holiday-gift-guide/2DActionAdventureCo-opDungeon CrawlerDungeon of the EndlessFTL: Faster Than LightHardwareHer StoryPrison ArchitectRocket LeagueRPGsimSportsxmasradar2015 <p> The holidays are getting nearer, but shopping for friends and family isn’t getting any easier. What do you buy for the gamer who has a massive Steam library? What cool stuff are you missing out on, yourself?</p><p> If you love games&mdash;or you’re shopping for someone who does&mdash;point your wallet at this, our 2015 Holiday Gift Guide. We publish one every year, but this year’s list is bigger and more thought-out than ever. We've tried to avoid the most obvious suggestions like Fallout 4; chances are, if you or a friend want it, you're already 30 hours deep.&nbsp;Instead, you’ll find all the stuff we love to give and get:&nbsp;<a href="#games">affordable games to play alone or co-op with friends</a>, books and board games, great PC hardware and accessories. And, somewhere near the middle, even a table lamp. It's a really cool lamp.</p><br/> <h3>HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: Anyone with ears, basically</strong></p><p>Every PC gamer needs a good headset. Having great sound that doesn’t rattle the windows and annoy the neighbors is part of it, but even more important is a high-quality, built-in microphone. Many of our favorite games these days are played online with friends, and nothing brings a party down like pausing to type messages to a chat box.</p><br/><p>The <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JJNQG98/?tag=pcgedit-20">Kingston HyperX Cloud headset</a> sounds great, feels comfy, and is less expensive than many of its competitors. Our go-to recommendation for more than a year now, and still the headset to beat.</p><h3>MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G graphics card</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: any PC gamer who doesn't own a GTX 980 or better</strong></p><p>Treat yourself, or a friend with an outdated rig, to the best price/performance graphics card around.&nbsp;The GTX 970 is our favorite go-to graphics card right now, prized for its mix of power and affordability. There are bigger, more powerful cards, sure, but the GTX 970 beats everything else in its price range. It's also massively overclockable, keeping it relevant for a few years to come.</p><br/><p>You can find a slightly cheaper GTX 970 than <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127832">this MSI model</a>, but it has great power circuitry and cooling to support an overclock that will rival the performance of a GTX 980.</p><h3>Crucial BX100 SSD (250GB)</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: PC gamers who don't already have multiple SSDs in their PC.</strong></p><p>Solid State Disks, or SSDs, aren’t exactly hot new tech anymore, but it’s amazing how many PC gamers haven’t made this simple upgrade yet. SSDs are a huge speed improvement over conventional hard drives, but two things hold them back: speed doesn’t matter much with documents and music files, and they’re too expensive to store terabytes of family photos on them.</p><br/><p>That’s where the cheap, fast, powerful <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RQA6TEI/?tag=pcgedit-20">Crucial BX100 SSD</a> comes in. For just $85, you can get a 250GB drive big enough to hold an entire Steam library. The speed improvement makes a big difference in graphics-intensive games, and this will cost way less than a brand new graphics card. Give someone the gift of dramatically shortened load times this holiday.</p><h3>Xbox Wireless Controller Receiver</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: Xbox One owners</strong></p><p>Mouse and keyboard will always rule our hearts, but some games do work better on a controller. Our <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-controller-for-pc-gaming/">favorite controller for PC</a> play is actually a PlayStation controller (or an Xbox 360 controller), but Xbox One owners can now use a wireless controller they already own with their PC, thanks to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZB7W4QU/?tag=pcgedit-20">this adapter</a>. Of course, you could plug in a USB&nbsp;cable and save the money, but going cable-free is just the kind of luxury that makes for a nice gift.</p><br/><p>Note: the adapter does only work with Windows 10, so take that into consideration. It also unfortunately doesn't support Xbox 360 controllers, but it can connect to up to eight Xbox One controllers wirelessly.</p><h3>Wooden Omega Headphone Stand</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: Audiophiles, clumsy folks</strong></p><p> You've seen it happen: a great pair of headphones left on a messy desk will inevitably get knocked to the floor or yanked by its cable. Help someone take care of their headphones (and look classy in the process) by giving their cans a proper home.</p><p>The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F2L1NOO/?tag=pcgedit-20">Omega headphone stand</a> curves in ways that wood probably wasn’t meant to, but it has a handsome walnut finish that looks great and should limit the wear and tear on a nice headset.&nbsp;</p><br/><p> For those without a bit of desk space to spare, there's a creative alternative. Give them the <span class="hawk-widget-insert" data-widget-type="link" data-model-name="Hengja - The Headphone Desk Hanger" data-link-text="Hengja headphone desk hanger"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B012VIWG28/?tag=pcgedit-20" rel="nofollow">Hengja headphone desk hanger</a> which can clamp onto the edge of the desk and let their headphones hang somewhere out of the way.</span></p><h3>Subscription to PC Gamer Magazine</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: Everyone. C'mon!</strong></p><p>Did you know we make a magazine? It's pretty cool!&nbsp;Not only does it crinkle and fold just like real paper, but you can roll it up and swat spiders with it. Burning it could even keep you alive if you survive a plane crash in remote Alaska during the winter and have to hold out for rescue. It may be ineffective against wolves.</p><br/><p>Some of our best features show up in the magazine first, and they're stylishly laid out with real professional graphic design. The less-burnable digital edition still looks great on a tablet, but the <a href="https://www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/all-mags-all-variants/PC-Gamer-Print.html">print edition</a> really says "I like you enough to give you a physical thing, rather than the ethereal experience of digital goods."</p><h3>Displate Metal Posters</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: people who aced&nbsp;shop class, metal bands?</strong></p><p>Posters are great, but an un-framed bit of shiny paper on the wall feels bit weak outside of a college dorm room. Solution: slice it out of steel.</p><p>Displate makes lovely&nbsp;<a href="https://displate.com/eddie/gaming-characters">game character posters</a> featuring Gordon Freeman, GlaDOS, Geralt, and others. They’re colorful, nicely designed, and, once again, etched into a giant sheet of metal.</p><br/><p>The posters are a fairly small 12.6x17.7 inches, so a couple would look excellent paired together. Bonus: you don't need to spend extra money on a frame, really,&nbsp;because they're made of metal. Everyone's going to want to touch them, and they come with a magnetic mounting solution.</p><h3>Stackable Tetris LED Desk Lamp</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: People who cannot see in the dark</strong></p><p>A bit of gaming history can also tastefully light up a small room with this Tetris lamp, and it's hard to find anyone who doesn't like Tetris. And even if they don't like Tetris, they probably like cool lamps.</p><p>Through some dark sorcery, each puzzle piece can be moved and rearranged. Once connected to the overall structure, the pieces light back up. Striking!</p><br/><p>The lamp includes seven total pieces, but you can combine multiple lamp sets if you want to get crazy or play actual Tetris. We hear the I Block is always in demand.</p><h3>Team Fortress 2 Chess Set</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: Intellectuals who can still appreciate a good uber</strong></p><p>Sometimes&mdash;very occasionally, mind you&mdash;we play things other than video games around here. Don’t freak out! We found a chess set that still smells strongly of video games: the Team Fortress 2 chess set from Valve.</p><p>Red and Blue continue to face off, but it’s 90% less likely that a child will scream at you while you play.*</p><br/><p>*Not valid if you play the game with your spoiled, 12-year-old cousin</p><h3>Starcraft Protoss Pylon USB Charger</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: YOU MUST CONSTRUCT ADDITIONAL</strong></p><p>Bask in it. Bask in the pretty lights as you annoy your friends and spouse with a large, unwieldy USB charger. Tiny, form-fitting USB plugs popped into a run-of-the-mill power strip? Bah! Who needs it. You’re a gamer, damn it, and you’ll charge your phone on Protoss Pylon and laugh while you do it.</p><p>Or, you know, give it to your friend or loved one who plays Starcraft. It's not always about you, you know. So selfish. Give your Protoss friend a real gift this holiday: don't Zerg rush them. You know it's annoying.</p><br/><p>We recognize this is a completely unnecessary accessory and everyone already owns a million USB charging cables. But it <em>lights up</em>, which means it could also double as a supremely rad night light. That's just too cool.</p><h3>Hearthstone Cupcake Tee</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: Hearthstone fans, anyone who is hungry</strong></p><p>Sometimes there’s no helping it: you’ve got to put on clothing and leave the house. Give a Hearthstone lover in your life this t-shirt featuring the Hearthstone cupcake to cover their mortal husk for those trying outdoor excursions.&nbsp;Warning: do not try to eat it. This is for wearing only.</p><br/><p>Also available as&nbsp;<a href="http://gear.blizzard.com/index.php/default/hearthstone/hearthstone-cupcake-tee-mens.html">a Men's Tee</a>, for all you&nbsp;brothers out there.</p><h3>Tempo Storm Zip Up Hoodie</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: Mark Zuckerberg</strong></p><p>Does your family watch big sporting events during the holidays?&nbsp;Show up sporting the Tempo Storm team colors and go&nbsp;on and on about druids and monks to add some new flavor to the holiday small talk.</p><br/><p>If Blizzard gear is what you're looking for, in general,&nbsp;<a href="http://gear.blizzard.com/">there's a ton more on Blizzard's store</a>.</p><h3>Klei Entertainment Figures</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: There's something for everyone here</strong></p><p>Klei has made a number of great games, including Mark of the Ninja, Don't Starve, and Invisible, Inc. But they also sell some figures and plushies that are so adorable, they're hard to resist even if you've never played the games they come from.</p><p>Don't miss the <a href="http://store.kleientertainment.com/products/535989-beefalo-plush">Beefalo plush</a>, for example. It is devilishly cute. What's a beefalo? Who cares? Look at it!</p><p>Ahem.</p><br/><p>The figures are, of course, very cool too.&nbsp;Anyone who's as big a Klei fan as we are will like having some of their characters as little figures on your desk. My favorite touch is the Mark of the Ninja figure, which features different masks based on the changing masks in the game. Marketing!</p><h3>Pandemic Legacy</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: You. Trust us.</strong></p><p>One of our favorite new&nbsp;board games,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TQ5SEAI/?tag=pcgedit-20">Pandemic Legacy</a> is the story of a disease control team keeping hideous viruses from making humanity extinct. It’s gross, fun, and a little bit horrible, with a great twist: the game evolves as you play it, much like the fantastic Risk Legacy.</p><p>Pandemic Legacy is currently one of the top 10 best-rated board games of all time on Board Game Geek, and its predecessor was a popular choice for the board game of 2012.&nbsp;</p><br/><p>Pour some drinks, gather some friends around, and have a good time without looking at screens and chat windows. It’ll do you good.</p><h3>XCOM The Board Game</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: Strategy fans and those who thrive under pressure.</strong></p><p>The XCOM board game is every bit as brutal as its inspiration: XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which continues to top our lists of best games years after release. Every bit of drama you from the game is here as well: the long-shot miracle, the crushing permadeath, the devastation of utter defeat.</p><p>But this time, you get to do it with your friends.</p><br/><p>It's a neat mix of digital and physical with a companion smartphone app, but our favorite thing about the X-COM board game is its cooperative nature. Each player takes on a distinct role (each of which plays differently) and does their part to combat the alien threat.</p><h3>Bitmap Books: visual compendiums of PC history</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: Anyone who loved games in the 80s.</strong></p><p>Readers with more advanced levels of chronological experience will appreciate Bitmap’s lovely art books. They cover the art of games found on&nbsp;the proto-PCs: Commodore 64, Amiga, ZX Spectrum, and others, with a bit of history mixed in. Can't ask for a better coffee table book.</p><p>If you're stuck trying to choose just one, might as well start with Bitmap's first production, the Commodore 64 compendium. Bitmap describes it thusly: "Celebrating one the most popular home computers of all time, the first in the Bitmap Books’ Visual Compendium series takes you on a journey through the C64’s varied and colourful gaming library."</p><br/><p>Not only do they look great, but the site describes them as “sumptuous,” which is very bold. Self-confidence looks great on you, Bitmap.</p><h3>Embed with Games by Cara Ellison</h3><p><strong>Who will love it: Anyone with a heart.</strong></p><p>Cara Ellison, one of the finest games writers out there, spent a year crashing on the&nbsp;couch with game developers to tell their stories. She blogged about it along the way, and the final product has turned into this excellent book, a mix of gonzo diary and insight into the lives and passions of game developers across the world.</p><p>People who care about game developers, tech culture, and great writing will be happy to spot it in a&nbsp;suspiciously book-shaped package this winter.</p><br/><p>From near the end of Ellison's journey, via the&nbsp;<a href="http://embedwith.tumblr.com/">Embed blog</a><em>:&nbsp;</em><em>"It seems only fair that here comes the rush of adrenaline now that I know what I’m doing. The destination is Australia: I’m stuck in LAX, the world’s second worst airport, Christmas is coming, a woman has been taken off the plane with an allergic reaction to something she ate in the tinsel-draped choo-choo train lined terminal. I am flung into my final month to a burst of sugary pop music.</em></p><p><em>I look down at my hands and they are shaking with anticipation."</em></p><h3>Minecraft: Blockopedia</h3><p><strong>Who will love it:&nbsp;<a href="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CPQKg4mWsAA_abz.jpg">This kid</a>.</strong></p><p>An extensive guide to Minecraft doesn’t have to reside on wiki pages alone: why not a book? Alex Wiltshire has poured a ton of knowledge into the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0545820111/?tag=pcgedit-20">Blockopedia</a>, and new players and die-hard fans will find a lot of great details inside. Best of all, with advanced Book technology you can move it from shelf to shelf without taking an axe and destroying the entire piece of furniture.</p><p>As some reviewers point out, despite the density of information online, a book can still be the handiest resource. It's easy to flip to the page you want and get exactly the information you need in a glance. Plus it's shaped like a block!</p><br/><p>If there's no Minecraft mega-fan in your life, gift this book to a random 14-year-old. They'll probably appreciate it.</p><h3>Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy</h3><p> <strong>Who will love it: The scholarly, the&nbsp;curious, the budding programmers and entrepreneurs.</strong></p><p> This new book is actually an old book. The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1449388396/?tag=pcgedit-20">25th anniversary re-release</a> of Levy’s book has added chapters on greats like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Hackers is a history of the birth of the computer systems we use everyday. It takes us back to a time when someone had to pop the case open, break something in half, and put it back together to make something new.</p><p><a name="games"></a></p><br/><p> A great way to learn about the history of your favorite hobby. Pairs well with David Kushner's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0812972155/?tag=pcgedit-20">Masters of Doom</a>, which tells the story of John Carmack, John Romero, and the glory days of id.<a name="games"></a></p><h3>80 Days</h3><p> <strong>Release date: 2015 |&nbsp;</strong><strong style="background-color: initial;">Review score: </strong><strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/80-days-review/">91%</a></strong></p><p> <strong>Who will love it: Readers, history lovers, romantics</strong></p><p> 80 Days is the story of an English gentleman and a wager. As the gentleman’s valet, you must help your employer circumnavigate the world before 80 days is up. It's a digital choose-your-own adventure that you'll spend most of your time reading, but every line of text is a delight, not a chore. It's easy to fall in love with 80 Days' alternate history of the 19th century, which has a sci-fi flavor befitting Jules Verne.</p><br/><p>This is the type of game that can be played casually with a loved one or family looking on, or you can dive into the details and travel the globe over and over. Easy to play on a laptop or on a long flight.</p><h3>FTL: Faster Than Light</h3><p><strong>Release date: 2012 |&nbsp;</strong><strong style="background-color: initial;">Review score: </strong><strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/ftl-faster-than-light-review/">89%</a></strong></p><p><strong>Who will love it: Sci-fi and strategy fans, anyone who gets hooked on "just one more"</strong></p><p>If you’re buying for a fan of Star Trek or Firefly and they somehow don’t already have this classic, it’s a sure thing. Command a scout ship through dangerous territory, controlling and upgrading ship systems and praying for a kind hand from Lady Fate. FTL consistently lands near the top of our Top 100 lists, and it features <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/ftl-faster-than-light-soundtrack-ben-prunty/">one of our favorite soundtracks ever</a>.</p><br/><p>Since 2012 FTL has gotten a big free update with new gameplay systems and stories, and it's regularly discounted in sales down to $5 or less. Buy a few copies and give them out like gaming candy.</p><h3>Rocket League</h3><p><strong>Release date: 2015 |&nbsp;</strong><strong style="background-color: initial;">Review score: </strong><strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/rocket-league-review/">87%</a></strong></p><p><strong>Who will love it: Anyone with a competitive bone in their body</strong></p><p>Here’s the short version: rocket cars play football. You are a rocket car. It's a blast.&nbsp;Some sports games have impenetrable rules and weird meta-fiction, but Rocket League sidesteps all that.</p><br/><p>Based on the world’s most popular sport (but with flying cars), Rocket League is instantly understandable by anyone. It’s fast, dramatic, and a lot of fun to play with friends. It even allows for local multiplayer, which makes it perfect for playing with family.</p><h3>Prison Architect</h3><p><strong>Release date: 2015 |&nbsp;</strong><strong style="background-color: initial;">Review score: </strong><strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/prison-architect-review/">87%</a></strong></p><p><strong>Who will love it: Strategy fiends, sim players. Dad?</strong></p><p>Playing Prison Architect is a bit like deciding that all of your Playmobil toys have been very, very naughty. This simulation lets you build and manage a modern-day, maximum security prison for little sim people. Give it to someone who loves fully immersing themselves in the depth of a PC game with complex systems to learn and master.&nbsp;Keep the peace, stay under budget, and prevent escapes.</p><br/><p>Their first prison will be small and humble; their last will be a monstrously sprawling and ruthlessly efficient machine. And when they get bored, they can take the role of a prisoner and try to break out of their own creation.</p><h3>Dungeon of the Endless</h3><p><strong>Release date: 2014 |&nbsp;</strong><strong style="background-color: initial;">Review score: </strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/dungeon-of-the-endless-review/"><strong>77%</strong></a></p><p><strong>Who will love it: Your co-op buddies. Tower defense, roguelike and RPG fans.</strong></p><p>There’s a lot going on in this engaging, budget roguelike. There’s a mix of tower defense, XCOM squad management and FTL brutality, all stirred up in a top-down, pixel-graphics cocktail. All the pieces here may be familiar, but the game itself is something special.</p><br/><p>It really shines as a cooperative game: adding more people cranks up the complexity as you work together to fight through endless waves of aliens and balance building towers, exploring, and upgrading your own character's abilities and equipment.</p><h3>Her Story</h3><p><strong>Release date: 2015 |&nbsp;</strong><strong style="background-color: initial;">Review score: </strong><strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/her-story-review/">90%</a></strong></p><p><strong>Who will love it: Serial podcast fans, mystery lovers, whoever you play it with.</strong></p><p>This one’s a little bit different. Combing through police records, you’re challenged to piece together the story of a woman in trouble. Dozens of chunks of interviews are all jumbled up, some are missing, and over the course of the game you wonder: did she do it?&nbsp;</p><br/><p>A must-have for fans of the podcast Serial, this murder mystery pushes all the same buttons. If you don't buy it as a gift, consider bringing it to a gathering or family or friends and playing through it together, unraveling the mystery as a team.</p> <h3>That's it for our 2015 holiday gift guide</h3><p>If you need more ideas, be sure to check out the rest of our&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pc-gamer-buying-guides/">hardware buying guides</a>.&nbsp;You can find more advice from our&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/reviews/">reviews</a> section, and for more general tech advice, check out our sister site&nbsp;<a href="http://www.techradar.com/us/news/world-of-tech/gift-guide-1307839">TechRadar's holiday buying guide</a>.</p> Assassin's Creed: Syndicate reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/assassins-creed-syndicate-review/Some new treats freshen thefamiliarroutine in Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, but only for a while.Wed, 25 Nov 2015 00:02:53 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/assassins-creed-syndicate-review/ActionAssassin's Creed SyndicateReviewsStealthUbisoft <div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">need to know</h5><p><strong>What Is It</strong>: An open world action adventure game set in Victorian London, with all of the series’ usual trappings.<br><b style="background-color: initial;">Expect to pay</b>: $60/£40<br><b style="background-color: initial;">Developer</b>: Ubisoft<br><b style="background-color: initial;">Publisher</b>: Ubisoft<br><b style="background-color: initial;">Reviewed On</b>: Intel i7 x980 3.33 GHz, 9 GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 960<br><b style="background-color: initial;">Multiplayer</b>: No<br><strong>Link</strong>: <a href="http://assassinscreed.ubi.com/en-us/games/assassins-creed-syndicate/">Official Site</a></p></div><p>Alexander Graham Bell, one of several historical celebrities I've met within mere moments of setting foot in Victorian London, has given me a rope launcher. Cool. With it I can quickly grapple my way to rooftops and create ziplines between buildings to slide across. It's fairly clunky and somewhat limited&mdash;I often find myself staring at a nearby roof and wondering why the hell I'm not allowed to sling over to it when I've reached smokestacks twice as far away&mdash;but it's still fun and gives me a way to escape, Batman-like, from a brawl I'm badly losing. It also provides an alternative to freerunning across rooftops, which feels the same as it does in other Assassin's Creed games: fun and dynamic at first, but ultimately a bit routine, and sometimes even exasperating. That's not a bad way to describe Assassin's Creed: Syndicate itself. There's a good first half where almost everything is fun and exciting, and&nbsp;slowly but surely it begins to drag.</p><p>As in past Assassin’s Creed games, you're once again inhabiting the bodies and memories of heroic assassins via a futuristic (magic, really) virtual reality machine. There's a sprawling open-world you can explore by free-running and climbing. The streets are&nbsp;cluttered with innocent bystanders, angry policemen, and&nbsp;vicious members of an enemy faction. The map is covered with&nbsp;icons signifying collectibles, side and story missions, and vantage points: tall buildings you can scale to reveal even more locations of interest. Stealth is your primary tool, and missions typically involve careful infiltration, lurking above enemies, and taking them out before they know you're there. There are also a few tailing missions, where you must follow a target without being spotted, though I found them considerably more forgiving than I have in the past.</p><p>Syndicate offers up some other new toys and features, mostly cribbed from other open-world games but still enjoyable enough to freshen up the proceedings, at least for a while. There are horse-drawn carriages all over London, allowing for GTA-esque hijacking, high-speed driving, and the&nbsp;comical bowling over of bowler-hatted Londoners. As you battle the Blighters, the gang that's taken control of London, you can employ thugs from your own gang, a la Saint's Row, to do some of your fighting for you. Combat is Arkham-style as you take on huge crowds with counter-attacks, combos, and finishing moves. These things are initially fun&mdash;I really did enjoy my first handful of hours with the game&mdash;but by mid-Creed they mostly begin to feel like a chore. A late-game carriage-based story mission might have been bracing if you hadn't already taken dozens of carriage rides. Battling a half-dozen enemies is initially exciting, but hours in it becomes just another exercise in patient (or impatient) clicking.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ZMtmlAqyTtCG.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/h0pzgqZrr0xm.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Syndicate" class=""> <figcaption>Swan dive off Big Ben? Check.</figcaption></figure><h2>Twin sneaks</h2><p>You play Syndicate as Jacob and Evie Frye, a brother-sister assassin team who are both well-written and skillfully voiced. Jacob, while predictably cocky and sarcastic is still funny and likable, and Evie, the more serious of the two, is herself prone to moments of charm and levity. They're also superbly animated. It's not often a facial expression in a game will elicit an <em>intended </em>laugh, but it did here more than once. I liked both characters a lot, especially in the scenes they shared with one another.</p><p>The twins are often at odds with each other, too: Jacob wants to loosen the stranglehold of the Blighter gang and kill Templars, and Evie wants to hunt for a 'Piece of Eden,' a magical doohickey that grants eternal something-or-other. For most of the game, they're basically interchangeable to play: save for a few high-level abilities they have identical skill trees. Only near the end of the game do they really begin to feel distinct. Jacob is more of a brawler, Evie more focused on stealth, and crafting or unlocking gear like sneakier outfits or deadlier weapons can complement their respective toolkits. You can switch between them whenever you want in the open world, while story missions can only be performed by one or the other.</p><div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Performance and settings</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/XCLcwqIkSni4.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/CaGZ7IcaYJfb.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Boxout"> </p> <p> Heed that recommended 4GB video memory spec. With a mere 2GB in my Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 I was only able to run Syndicate with medium settings, getting an average of 40-45 fps. Pushing to high settings dropped me in the 30-35 fps range. Very high reduced the game to a slideshow. While the city looked OK on medium and high settings, the jagginess caused by lower&nbsp;AA settings&nbsp;was pretty distracting.</p><p>We also ran Syndicate on a stronger machine with a core i7-5960X @ 3GHz, 32GB RAM, and three GeForce GTX 980s. At 1920x1080 on the 'Ultra' preset we managed 60 fps indoors, but found it dropping to as low as 35 fps outside. Using MSAA2x + FXAA instead of MSAA4x + FXAA resulted in a solid 60+ fps in outdoor areas, and reducing shadow quality was helpful. With settings on the 'high' preset we got a steady 70 fps,&nbsp;peaking at 100 fps.</p> </div><p>There are other enjoyable characters here and there, mostly historical celebrities that you'll trip over at every turn. You can go ghost hunting at the behest of Charles Dickens, help Florence Nightingale cure sick children, and assist Charles Darwin in brutally killing an entire building full of drug manufacturers with poisonous gas. That last part seems perhaps out of character for the famed English naturalist, who didn't typically ask strangers to kill scores of people (as far as I know). I kind of liked it, though. Rooting a game in real history is great, but so is taking liberties with it.</p><p> The story itself is impenetrable unless you've been taking detailed notes for the last 40 or 50 Creed games, which I admit I haven't. Thankfully, it's also limited to brief interludes and not remotely essential to understand. The main missions are typically better than anything else in the game, often taking place in huge areas crawling with foes and containing several side-objectives. To reach your target, you can contact a friendly character who might give you some additional information or coerce an enemy into allowing you access to a restricted area. Steal a key from someone else, kill an additional tasty target of opportunity, then sneak or fight your way to your main objective. Or, don't. Sometimes I tried to complete all the objectives, quietly stealthing and stabbing my way through the labyrinth. One time it was late and I wanted to go to bed, so I simply knifed the guy guarding the main door, entered the target's chamber, and immediately flattened him from a balcony. It took all of three minutes. Perfect! I like a mission that doesn't care how you beat it.</p><p>Less enjoyable are the repetitive side missions to liberate the various districts of London. Free children from oppressive sweatshops by killing all the evil foremen, assassinate Templars in well-guarded areas, perform bounty hunting missions by kidnapping a target and spiriting him away in a carriage, or engage in a battle at a gang stronghold. Each of these encounters are repeated all over London, again and again, offering little distinction from one another. It's not a cold heart that looks upon an icon reading 'Child Liberation' and decides not to bother, it's a bored one. Sorry, kids.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xf2Cpt0JTN-r.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6fm1p7GegjHE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Syndicate" class=""> <figcaption>Bad guy. The moustache is a giveaway.</figcaption></figure><p>As I expected, I hit a few bugs. Once I fell through the world and into a white void, once I got stuck on some scenery, pinwheeling my arms until I died. Twice, story mission bugs halted my progress: one time someone I was supposed to follow wouldn't budge, requiring a restart, and another mission stuck me on an endless loading screen until I hunted through forums for a solution, which was to race to a checkpoint in a carriage before the characters finished a conversation. That took a half-dozen tries to accomplish. Ubisoft says a fix is forthcoming.</p><p>The new toys and tools freshen up the formula, but after a while, for better and worse, it's still Assassin's Creed. As beautiful as London is, the buildings eventually become just a series of obstacles, things to run, rope, and clamber across without even really looking at them. The impressively bustling crowds become less captivating as you realize they're just a collection of robots that spawn the same series of underwhelming crowd events like 'catch the robber' or 'scare the bullies.' The final boss fight lets you swap back and forth between Evie and Jacob during the battle, a fine idea&mdash;but the fight itself is unimaginative and unrewarding, designed to be difficult above all else. Like diving into a pile of leaves from the top of Big Ben, the first time is a thrill, the fifth&nbsp;is a yawn. Assassin's Creed: Syndicate's new toys entertain for a while but the novelty ends hours before the game does.</p> An inside look at how modding makes PC games betterhttp://www.pcgamer.com/an-inside-look-at-how-modding-makes-pc-games-better/Durante uses Tales of Zestiria's 60 fps mod to explain the fundamentals of modding, and why game devs don't always solve these problems.Tue, 24 Nov 2015 20:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/an-inside-look-at-how-modding-makes-pc-games-better/DurantemoddingTales of Zestiria <p><em><br></em></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/FTeuAmGcTrqP.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/j169Bmax7zHb.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Tales of Zestiria header"></p><p> <em>Peter "Durante" Thoman is the creator of PC downsampling tool <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/gedosato/">GeDoSaTo</a> and the modder behind Dark Souls' DSfix. He has previously analyzed PC ports of </em><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/valkyria-chronicles-pc-port-analysis-durantes-verdict/">Valkyria Chronicles</a><em>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/durantes-witcher-3-analysis-the-alchemy-of-smoothness/">The Witcher 3</a>,&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/tales-of-zestiria-port-analysis-durantes-verdict/">Tales of Zestiria</a><em>&nbsp;and more</em><em>.</em></p><p> The recent release of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/tales-of-zestiria-now-runs-at-60-fps-thanks-to-fan-made-fix/">a modification for running Tales of Zestiria at 60 fps</a>&mdash;rather than the default 30&mdash;has once again demonstrated that mods can significantly&nbsp;improve PC games after release. But what actually constitutes this type of “modding” is still a mystery to most gamers. How difficult is it? How complicated? If modders make it look easy, why can't game developers implement these features in the first place?</p><p> In this article, I'll go over&nbsp;the most common types of modding today, and then go into more detail concerning the ones relevant in cases like Zestiria&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/dark-souls/">Dark Souls</a>. I’ll also go back to the vexed question of why mods can often accomplish feats which are apparently out of reach of the original developers and publishers, and provide both my own and other modders’ perspectives.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/99-0EXS3SLOV.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/lTbfyw8I2i4U.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="A fragment of an API call trace, some buffer dumps, and part of the code implementing the 60 FPS mod." style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;" class=""> <figcaption>A fragment of an API call trace, some buffer dumps, and part of the code implementing the 60 FPS mod.</figcaption></figure><p> This is my first time reporting primarily on other modders’ work, and it’s a great joy to see an excellent community form itself around the practice, even for games which don’t natively support any modifications. As such, before delving into the heart of the matter, I’d first like to extend my thanks to the two people primarily responsible for the improved state of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/tales-of-zestiria/">Tales of Zestiria</a> on PC today: Andon “Kaldaien” Coleman and Niklas “DrDaxxy” Kielblock. Both have been exceedingly helpful in providing their own perspective on the process of modding in general, and on modding Tales of Zestiria in particular.</p><h3>A Short Taxonomy of Modding</h3><p> When trying to classify types of modding, the first and most crucial distinction is between mods directly supported by the developers of a game, and ones which are not. The former is a staple in e.g. Bethesda’s games, and also somewhat common with releases from other developers with a PC background.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xGFjwxBeSkq6.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/W64onzYHGT7-.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Skyrim Creation Kit." class=""> <figcaption>The Skyrim Creation Kit.</figcaption></figure><p> What is possible through this type of modding and how it is accomplished depends completely on the types of tools provided by the developers. In general, gameplay modifications and content additions are far easier to accomplish when official tools are provided, and a truly staggering amount of content can result. However, as it’s the most well-understood and easiest form of modding to get into, it's not our target in this article.</p><p> If modding is <em>not</em> officially supported, there are three common ways of modifying the behavior of a game despite that limitation: <strong>data file editing</strong>, <strong>API-level interception</strong> and<strong> direct binary code injection</strong>. Of these options, editing a game’s data files is the most straightforward, though it can vary from simply modifying .jpg images to adjust textures all the way to reverse-engineering the custom binary file format(s) of a game.</p><p> This leaves us with API-level interception and binary code modifications, which are the methods applied to Tales of Zestiria. We’ll investigate these in more detail now.</p><h3>API Call Interception</h3><p> The&nbsp;<a href="http://steamcommunity.com/app/351970/discussions/0/490123938441506815/">TZFix project</a> by Kaldaien&mdash;the primary mod for Tales of Zestiria&mdash;started out with the goal of solving an issue I missed in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/tales-of-zestiria-port-analysis-durantes-verdict/">my initial port review</a>, simply because I use an audio setup on which it does occur. While this bug was patched rather quickly, the game used to unceremoniously crash on startup on systems which use a 7.1 speaker setup.</p><p> TZF was soon extended to also improve the game’s frame pacing (poor&nbsp;consistency of frames can cause stuttering even with a high average fps), which was problematic on many systems, reducing apparent smoothness despite ample performance. By now, it features aspect ratio support for non-16:9 displays, a shimmering fix, and also integrated my character shadow resolution improvements.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EmE8kLakToSH.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ZE2SHand-guG.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="With TZF, Tales of Zestiria supports ultrawide aspect ratios." class=""> <figcaption>With TZF, Tales of Zestiria supports ultrawide aspect ratios.</figcaption></figure><p> As you might expect from the title of this section, all these improvements were achieved using API call interception. This means that calls to standard programming interfaces&mdash;such as DirectX or core Windows functions&mdash;are intercepted by the mod, examined, and potentially modified. A fundamental tool often used for this purpose is&nbsp;<a href="https://github.com/TsudaKageyu/minhook">minHook</a>, which provides functions for relatively conveniently replacing API calls in memory. The other part of the “fundamentals” equation is actually getting the mod code into the game process, which is generally accomplished either by replacing a library used by the game with a wrapper&mdash;as TZF does for d3d9.dll&mdash;or injecting it by other means.</p><p> In any case, applying these modifications, while requiring some mechanical effort and familiarity with low-level details of how library function calls work, is really the simpler part of the process. Figuring out where and what to modify when to achieve a desired effect, without introducing undesired consequences, is where the true challenge lies. This falls squarely in the area of reverse engineering, a topic whole books have been written about, but I’ll try to provide a quick overview based on a concrete example from Tales of Zestiria.</p><p> The first step is to figure out which API functions are actually invoked by a game. I mostly simply use Microsoft’s dumpbin utility for this, while Kaldaien prefers&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dependencywalker.com/">Dependency Walker</a> and specialized debugging tools. Either way, as a modder you have to form a hypothesis on which APIs are probably involved, and then investigate its use more closely. For our discussion, I’ll go with the character shadow resolution mod I implemented.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/dGQ3ChL6SwyF.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/MfjXmbCXvCSo.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Improved character shadow detail." class=""> <figcaption>Improved character shadow detail.</figcaption></figure><p> Generally, with some basic knowledge of how 3D rendering works, you expect shadows to be rendered to some intermediate buffer first, and this buffer to be used again when the final scene is rendered later on. There are a lot of tools out there to investigate the rendering of a game, but few of them are geared for reverse engineering and modification of games with only access to a (potentially encrypted) binary. I was happy to hear that Kaldaien found the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-create-sweetfx-style-shaders-that-dont-affect-the-hud-with-durantes-gedosato/">framedumping functionality built into GeDoSaTo</a> useful for this purpose. By associating its visual image dumps and logging output, it’s possible to reconstruct which buffers are involved in shadow rendering.</p><p> However, simply changing their size did little to improve the visual output in Tales of Zestiria. It was also necessary to determine which GPU shaders are used in filtering, reconstruct the meaning of their parameters from their usage, and adjust those parameters to the new shadow dimensions. Note that this is a few hours of work summarized to one sentence.</p><p> That’s API call interception in a nutshell. It can be used to work around game bugs, as in the initial TZF or my recent&nbsp;<a href="http://blog.metaclassofnil.com/?p=782">short-term Mushihimesama fix</a>, but it can also greatly improve aspects of a game or even add features to it. Examples of this include TZF,&nbsp;<a href="http://blog.metaclassofnil.com/?tag=dsfix">DSfix</a> and even the generic functionality of GeDoSaTo.</p><h3>Binary Code Modification</h3><p> While API interception opens up a great many possibilities, it cannot by definition modify behavior which does not involve any external library calls. That’s why the&nbsp;<a href="http://steamcommunity.com/app/351970/discussions/0/490123938441506815/">60 fps modification</a> by DrDaxxy was missing from the list of features in the previous section, and why he had to resort to direct investigation and modification of the game code and variables to accomplish this feat.</p><p> While both API interception and binary modification boil down to reverse engineering, with the former a modder at least has the known semantics of the library functions to guide them. With binary code modification, one of the greatest challenges is finding some starting point. For DrDaxxy, who used&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cheatengine.org/">CheatEngine</a> for most of his work, that starting point was the idea that a game running at 30 fps should store some values representing “1/30” somewhere in memory.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6AMnA4NERlOq.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/k68lMTX2oSWL.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Tales of Zestiria’s action-packed battle system is improved greatly, both visually and in terms of controls, by a higher framerate." class=""> <figcaption>Tales of Zestiria’s action-packed battle system is improved greatly, both visually and in terms of controls, by a higher framerate.</figcaption></figure><p> Just changing those values already had some effect, but only achieved the desired effect in some scenarios. What followed was an investigation of the game code which uses these values, which finally turned up a multiplier used in several other instances. Adjusting this multiplier led to mostly-working 60 fps gameplay. Subsequently, these adjustments were refined further, implemented in C and included in TZF. If this description sounds like it is glossing over tons of important details and lots of intuitive leaps, that’s because it is. There is just no way to fully convey everything you need to know to get started on a binary mod project in a few short paragraphs.</p><p> The power afforded by binary modification comes with some drawbacks (other than its sheer difficulty). For example, official patches to a game should usually not change the behavior of API-level interception, but often completely break binary modifications hardcoded to specific addresses.</p><h3>So why can’t [company X] do it?</h3><p> This is a question that commonly, and understandably, gets asked a lot. The answer likely differs with each individual case, but it is important to gain some perspective on both sides of the equation.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Zdy88ybpR0mN.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/otZULWBEpvKP.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="In its own small way, Zestiria embraces modding: you can add attachments to your characters in arbitrary positions and orientations." class=""> <figcaption>In its own small way, Zestiria embraces modding: you can add attachments to your characters in arbitrary positions and orientations.</figcaption></figure><p> Both Kaldaien, who got his start reverse engineering games 15 years ago on Everquest, and DrDaxxy, a 20-year-old student who first made headlines for his GTAV FoV mod earlier this year, told me that they invested about 10 hours each before the first public release of their mods. Now this is obviously based on existing infrastructure and knowledge, but nonetheless it is not a huge amount of time compared to what it takes to develop a game. Even more crucially, as the main part of the article should have made obvious, the majority of this time is spent reverse-engineering behavior which should be <em style="background-color: initial;">far</em> more obvious in the original code base that the developers work on.</p><p> However, the expectations for mods and official releases are vastly different when it comes to stability and polish. The initial version of the 60 fps unlock suffered from a variety of glitches, many of which have been resolved by now. Still, some remain, including minor visual niggles to at least one currently known progress-stopping bug&mdash;which incidentally, according to DrDaxxy, might also be one of the hardest to fix. For an unofficial release, many gamers won’t mind disabling a mod manually for 1 minute in return for 50+ hours of a much smoother gaming experience. But for an official release, this would be unacceptable.</p><p> Taking into account these constraints, Kaldaien opined that Bandai Namco delivered a respectable port and made a significant effort to accomplish many of the things TZF is polishing off.</p><p> In my personal opinion, what should truly be taken away from this is a celebration of the nature of the PC platform, which allows people to tailor their experiences in the way they want. We get to decide for ourselves whether to put up with minor annoyances in return for a given feature or not.</p><p> You can download&nbsp;<a href="http://steamcommunity.com/app/351970/discussions/0/490123938441506815/">TZFix and the 60fps mod on the Steam page here</a>.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/k2kMXUCeRwSb.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QCYz4VPE1-xY.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Praise"> </p> Show Us Your Rig: Beyond Sol's Eric Fagnanhttp://www.pcgamer.com/show-us-your-rig-beyond-sols-eric-fagnan/Eric Fagnan, Creative Director of Beyond Sol at Praxia Entertainment, shows off his PC and standing desk.Tue, 24 Nov 2015 18:30:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/show-us-your-rig-beyond-sols-eric-fagnan/show us your rig <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/FNvcEHpLQw-C.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/a9v1DJEa1U-J.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Eric Fagnan 1"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title" style="margin-left: 0px;">Show us your rig</h5> <p> Each week 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 as they show us the systems they use to work and play. </p> </div><p> Eric Fagnan,&nbsp;Creative Director of&nbsp;<a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/348490/" target="_blank">Beyond Sol</a> at Praxia Entertainment, has something we haven't seen on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/show-us-your-rig/" target="_blank">Show Us Your Rig</a> in quite some time; a standing desk. Standing desks can&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/a-year-of-pc-gaming-with-a-standing-desk/" target="_blank">work great for PC gaming</a>, but Fagnan's has the added benefit of a motor that allows him to lower it if he does want to sit down. Fagnan was kind enough to show off his setup, and tell us why he's been playing a lot of League of Legends lately.&nbsp;</p><h4>What’s in your PC?</h4><p> Intel Core i7, 8 GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750, and a 264 GB SSD. Running Windows 10.</p><h4>What’s the most interesting/unique part of your setup?</h4><p> I have a GeekDesk Max (motorized stand-sit desk). Working on games and as a studio owner you spend very long hours at your desk working and playing games so it’s important to find ways to stay healthy. Having an adjustable desk allows me to cut the time I spend sitting by almost 70% in a day and I can say that it helps. But if you get one don’t forget to get a good mat to stand on so you don’t put too much stress on your joints&mdash;took me a couple of painful weeks to figure that out.</p><h4>What’s always within arm’s reach on your desk?</h4><p> Coffee. At all times there is a cup with coffee in it on my desk. It’s a terrible habit I formed in my earlier years working long hours fueled by caffeine.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3hvLZUyvTLGP.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7_LygYJwlcZX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Eric Fagnan 2"></p><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">Eric's standing desk</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/JVd4K-FQQhSI.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-2x6_bpL_Bzr.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Eric Fagnan 3"></p></div><h4>What are you playing right now?</h4><p> I typically play strategy games like Paradox’s Crusader Kings II, Europa Universalis IV, Civilization 5, Galactic Civilizations III. I enjoy exploring deep game mechanics and systems as well as the fantasy fulfillment of ruling a vast empire and conquering the world. But lately I’ve been playing tons of League of Legends.</p><h4>What’s your favorite game and why?</h4><p> I particularly enjoy League of Legends over other MOBAs because it strikes the right balance between skill and accessibility. Other MOBAs are often too hardcore because every mistake you make gives your opponent an advantage they can they start to snowball with which makes it feel like the game is always decided in the first few minutes. League of Legends is different because you feel like you can always turn it around with a really good play. Like when you’re down a dozen kills but you catch the enemy team by surprise while they are trying to take down the Baron resulting in a 3 for 1 and Baron in your favor; then you press this advantage to take an inhibitor and suddenly it’s anyone’s game again.</p> Win more on CS:GO's Inferno map as Counter-Terroristshttp://www.pcgamer.com/win-more-on-csgos-inferno-map-as-counter-terrorists/The timings, grenade throws and strategies that will see you to victory.Tue, 24 Nov 2015 17:53:37 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/win-more-on-csgos-inferno-map-as-counter-terrorists/Counter-Strike: Global OffensiveFPSPro <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5KMq8cPrR-aY.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zPlStlsJwK2K.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Inferno Defense" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p> Inferno can be a tricky map to defend unless you understand it. To that end, start by learning the ‘call-outs’&mdash;the names used to describe each part of the map. <a href="https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=157442340">This guide</a> by Froosh and collaborators is a very useful resource to bookmark. Keep the Inferno image open in a tab as you work through the rest of this article.</p><p> There are two major chokepoints that you want to control: middle and top of banana. If you manage to keep the terrorists from pushing past these points until the end of the round you are likely to have gathered enough information to be ready for the final aggression.</p><p> At first glance this may seem simple, but if you have played a couple of games on Inferno you know that this isn't the case. One reason for this is the long rotations between the two bomb sites. As a consequence, you will have to slow down the terrorists.</p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Utility Grenades</h5> <p> Always prioritize smoke grenade, then two flashbangs. If you have money left you should go for an incendiary unless you plan to go for double grenades in either banana or middle to do some initial damage. </p> </div><p> Having identified the problem, it's time to defuse it. In order to have a successful CT half you have to make the most of your utility grenades: don't throw away a flashbang for no reason.</p><h3>Bombsite A</h3><p> You want two guys to cover mid. Preferably one on arch side and one truck side. These guys will be your impenetrable wall. They will use their smoke grenades to ensure the terrorists won't be able to take over mid (at least not without begging for mercy when the rotation from B joins the party.)</p><p> You can use a flashbang to let your teammate peek and maybe even get a kill. If that player finds terrorists about to push mid he mustn't panic. Instead, you should just put down a smoke screen. Generally the player on the arch side should use his smoke first. That way you will still have smokes left on A if the arch player has to rotate to B.</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="ThoughtfulSpanishAfricanfisheagle (gfyCat video) " data-id="ThoughtfulSpanishAfricanfisheagle" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><p> The third player on A will make sure your opponents don't take control over apartments. This guy will be the James Bond of your team: the secret agent whose aim is to go for sneaky plays and catch the terrorists off-guard. If you have a smoke up in mid, the truck side player can support him from boiler stairs and let him hide in bedroom.</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="ForthrightPiercingGreatdane (gfyCat video) " data-id="ForthrightPiercingGreatdane" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><p><em>On the next page: control bombsite B, plus when to buy an AWP.</em></p><h3>Bombsite B</h3><p> On this site I like to have one highly confident player go a little more aggressive and peek angles. The other person gets to be the annoying devil who will make sure the attackers are so flashbanged they couldn't find a crater on the moon.</p><p> The first player can take a peek from the corner at the top of banana and try to spot terrorists. If they go for a fast push he can call for a smoke from the support player. If, on the other hand, he can hear them further down in banana or just wants to take a more aggressive peek, his ally can either flash over the roof or in front of the car as shown below.</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="WhichWelcomeCusimanse (gfyCat video) " data-id="WhichWelcomeCusimanse" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="GlossySpiritedCrownofthornsstarfish (gfyCat video) " data-id="GlossySpiritedCrownofthornsstarfish" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><p> If the guys on A need help it's best if the support player rotates if he has used his smoke already. Remember, clever use of utility grenades is what wins you rounds.</p><p> When the terrorists decide to commit to B they will almost always smoke off CT spawn. By this time it's likely that one of you will find yourself behind the grey cloud of death, but have no fear! Now you have two options. Either that player rotates around the construction site to spools or you can go for the ballsy play and flash pool so that the player from CT side can push the smoke and catch the enemies with their pants down.</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="FairSandyArabianhorse (gfyCat video) " data-id="FairSandyArabianhorse" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><h3>AWP on Inferno</h3><p> You have won a couple of rounds in a row and you find yourself with an abundance of cash. It's tempting to go back to the hotel and have a drink or two. Maybe buy something nice for you and your friends after a long day of combat. But no, now is not the time. There's still a war to be won. Instead you pick up the AWP.</p><p> Let's say your AWP player decides to peek banana and he ends up getting a kill. Then he can fall back towards CT spawn, lay down a smoke screen and switch positions with the guy on arch side on A. Often the terrorists will opt out and rotate back to mid, just to find themselves getting killed once again by the same AWPer. Note that this is a risky play and you should only use it once or twice.</p><h3>Mix it up</h3><p> Even though nothing can replace good communication and smart positioning you will have to mix it up a bit every now and then. After all, you don't want your opponents to read you like an open book. This is the time to use the card up your sleeve.</p><p> This flash from inside the corner on arch side is one of my favorite flashes in the entire game. Simply line up your crosshair with the line on the wall, flash, wait, and pick up some free kills.</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="SlushyHardtofindBaboon (gfyCat video) " data-id="SlushyHardtofindBaboon" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><p> Another high risk, high reward play is to let your support player hide behind sandbags. Peek banana from your usual corner and when you see a terrorist, just back off, call for a flash and then the two of you can spray them down.</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="UntidyInexperiencedKitty (gfyCat video) " data-id="UntidyInexperiencedKitty" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Watch your Replays</h5> <p> Go to the 'Watch' tab. Then 'Your Matches'. Select the game you want to watch and click 'Download'. That replay will now appear in your 'Downloaded' tab. Click 'Watch on GOTV'. </p> </div><h3>Final words</h3><p> Some of these things are easy to do and will help you win more games, whereas some things will take more time to master. Watch your replays (take a look to the right for instructions) and pay attention to what the enemy team did. Should you have rotated earlier? Later? Just remember, practice makes perfect: if at first you don't succeed, buy a defuse kit and try again.</p><hr> <p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> This week’s PC gaming dealshttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-pc-game-deals/The best PC gaming deals of the week.Mon, 23 Nov 2015 19:30:00 +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"></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: 'Tis the season and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/best-black-friday-pc-gaming-deals/" target="_blank">Black Friday</a> is almost upon us, meaning lots more good stuff is going on sale. For starters, a downright absurd number of new releases are already on sale, including Fallout 4, Star Wars: Battlefront, Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, and more. We've also started seeing the hardware sales begin, as Newegg has put up a whole list of Black Friday deals. You can already&nbsp;get 8GB of RAM for only $30, a great CPU cooler for less than that, and there will be a whole lot more to come this week.&nbsp;</p><p>You can find our full list of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/best-black-friday-pc-gaming-deals/" target="_blank">the best&nbsp;Black Friday deals here</a>,&nbsp;which we will continue updating all week.&nbsp;Looking for more deals on gadgets, TVs and tech? Check out the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.techradar.com/news/world-of-tech/roundup/black-friday-deals-2015-1294927"><strong>best Black Friday deals</strong></a> on TechRadar.</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="background-color: initial;"></p><h4>Hardware deals:</h4><p style="margin-left: 20px;"> <strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>Newegg has started its <strong>early Black Friday sales</strong>, which <a href="http://fave.co/1NLKBJx" target="_blank">you can see here</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>The <strong>Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO</strong>, one of our favorite CPU coolers, is even cheaper this week, at <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005O65JXI/?tag=pcgedit-20&amp;ascsubtag=PCGDeals" target="_blank">$27 on Amazon</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong>One 8GB stick of PNY Performance DDR3 1600MHz RAM</strong> is only <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B012ASAWNE/?tag=pcgedit-20" target="_blank">$30 on Amazon</a>. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>The <strong>Corsair Carbide Series 200R mid tower case</strong> is <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009GXZ8MM/?tag=pcgedit-20" target="_blank">$51 on Amazon</a>. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>The <strong>Mionix NAOS 7000 gaming mouse</strong> is at its lowest price yet, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HGKQ6VY/?tag=pcgedit-20" target="_blank">$49.49 on Amazon</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>The <strong>Logitech G430</strong><strong> gaming headset</strong> is half off, at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CQ35C1Q/?tag=pcgedit-20" target="_blank">$40 on Amazon</a>.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"></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"></p><h4>Game deals:&nbsp;</h4><p style="margin-left: 20px;"> <strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong>Star Wars: Battlefront</strong> is already down to <a href="http://fave.co/1HiC5oH" target="_blank">$50 on Green Man Gaming</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>Another new release, <strong>Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate</strong> is way down to <a href="http://fave.co/1HiCcAA" target="_blank">$38 on Green Man Gaming</a>. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong>Outlast</strong> is still only <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G6YJ60E/?tag=pcgedit-20&amp;ascsubtag=PCGDeals" target="_blank">$5 on Amazon</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong>Fallout 4</strong> is %15 off at <a href="http://store.goldenjoystick.com/Fallout-4" target="_blank">$51 on the Golden Joystick Store</a>, which also has Black Friday sales on <a href="http://store.goldenjoystick.com/Warhammer-End-Times-Vermintide-ROW" target="_blank">Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide</a>, <a href="http://store.goldenjoystick.com/Cities-Skylines">Cities: Skylines</a>, <a href="http://store.goldenjoystick.com/Mad-Max" target="_blank">Mad Max</a>, and <a href="http://store.goldenjoystick.com/" target="_blank">more</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong style="background-color: initial;">&mdash;&nbsp;</strong>The <strong>Battlefield Bundle</strong>, which includes <strong>Battlefield 4</strong> and <strong>Battlefield Hardline</strong>, is <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017Y45PI6/?tag=pcgedit-20" target="_blank">$25 on Amazon</a>.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"></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. Disclosure note: The Golden Joystick Store is operated by Future, which also owns PC Gamer.&nbsp;</em></p> Fallout 3: does the old wasteland still hold up?http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-3-does-the-old-wasteland-still-hold-up/It’s time to revisit the Capital Wasteland of old.Mon, 23 Nov 2015 16:42:11 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-3-does-the-old-wasteland-still-hold-up/Fallout 3ReinstallRPG <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/IRe8QOJ_RXGi.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/87jW7DojjzaQ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 3" style="background-color: initial;"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">REINSTALL</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/eXnRYKZ-S_yH.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/19cGXbws_A89.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 3 box"> </p> <p> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/reinstall/">Reinstall</a> invites you to join us in revisiting PC gaming days gone by. Today, Andy goes back to the meaner, greener climes of Fallout 3. </p> </div><p> When you emerge from Vault 101 you’re blinded by a bright, white light. Having spent your entire life in an underground fallout shelter, you’ve never seen the sun before. Then your eyes adjust and the Capital Wasteland fades into view as Inon Zur’s haunting score swells. This is the moment that defines Fallout 3, and all of Bethesda’s RPGs: gazing across that bleak, broken vista brimming with possibilities, and deciding where to go and what to do first.&nbsp;</p><p> Seven years on, it still has impact. I thought it was time for another journey through the nuke-battered ruins of Washington DC. Stepping out onto that hill, watching the vista fade into view, I still feel a rush of excitement&mdash;even though, after hundreds of hours in the Capital Wasteland, I know it inside out. The locations and quests are always the same, but doing them in a different order, choosing different paths and using different weapons, makes it feel almost like a new experience. I’m still finding new things and hearing new lines of dialogue, even now.&nbsp;</p><p> The Vault 101 sequence at the beginning isn’t so great. It’s an enforced hour of exposition, following the main character from birth, literally, until their teenage&nbsp;years when they escape, or are expelled from, the vault. You have a lot of options, it’s true. You can surrender your weapons to the Overseer and leave peacefully, or you can kill him and fight your way out, upsetting his daughter (your oldest friend). You can sneak past the guards or you can kill them all. It’s a decent quest, but too damn slow&mdash;especially that awkward birthday party. Luckily there are mods to skip it. It’s when you reach the surface that Fallout 3 really gets going.&nbsp;</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/fCFkQ-uBQiCx.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/D2dz5Mzjoj1M.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 3 mid"></p><p> Technically, it hasn’t aged well. The world is blighted by grubby low-res textures and the character models are hideous. To be fair, they were hideous in 2008. But the Capital Wasteland is still a wonderfully evocative place. The grey, overcast skies and shattered landscape make for a strangely beautiful post-apocalypse. There’s a lot of empty space&mdash;I mean, it is a wasteland after all&mdash;but Bethesda scattered enough interesting things around that it never feels barren. There are little stories everywhere, both humorous and poignant. I was caught off guard when I entered an old house in the middle of nowhere and found the embracing skeletons of a couple on a bed, frozen in time.&nbsp;</p><p> That’s pretty uncharacteristic of the game in general, though. Fallout 3 is very much a black comedy, with bomb-worshipping cults, talking trees, two-headed cows, and all manner of other silliness. Tonally, it’s all over the place, absurdist comedy staggering clumsily into attempts at more serious storytelling. One minute you’re facing a moral quandary involving rescuing, or exposing, an on-the-run android; the next you’re fighting giant mutated ants straight out of a B movie. But the upside of this inconsistency is variety, and every quest offers something different. If you want a sombre, reflective post-apocalyptic experience, read The Road.&nbsp;</p><p> As is the case with most, if not all, Bethesda RPGs, the side-quests are the highlight. The main story&mdash;about your father trying to bring clean water to the wasteland&mdash;is meandering and fairly dull. Your old man, whose face is generated to resemble the character you create, is played by Liam Neeson, who sounds bored to death. Getting an actor of that calibre in the game made for a great press release, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s phoning it in. His&nbsp;character is a charisma vacuum, and makes Qui-Gon Jinn seem brimming with personality in comparison.&nbsp;</p><blockquote> Neeson’s comatose acting sucks all the life from the scene. </blockquote><p> You spend much of the early game tracking his movements across the wasteland. You do this by asking people if they’ve seen ‘a middle-aged man’&mdash;and that’s as specific as the description gets. When they made it so that the father’s face is unique to each player, the writers must have gone “Shit!” But, despite the vague description, you eventually find him and learn about his grand experiment, Project Purity. It should be an emotional moment: father and son (or daughter) finally reunited. But Neeson’s comatose acting sucks all the life from the scene. It doesn’t really matter, however, because the side-quests are so strange, so funny, and so entertaining.&nbsp;</p><p> There’s still a lot wrong with Fallout 3, however. The companions, including gurning supermutant Fawkes, are insubstantial. They’re never fleshed out, making it hard to care about them. The gun combat is weedy and unsatisfying&mdash;outside of the slow-mo precision aiming mode VATS, that is. And the quests don’t have as many branching paths or alternate outcomes as other Bethesda games. These are all problems that were fixed in Obsidian’s superb Fallout: New Vegas.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ipvYsMg7TfGF.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/SfIKcLjtBQCY.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 3 3"></p><p> This spin-off is, in many ways, a better game than Fallout 3, with superior writing and quest design, more richly detailed companions, and deeper RPG elements. But it doesn’t feel as apocalyptic, its more vibrant setting having escaped the worst of the bombing. The games share the same engine and many of the same mechanics, but they feel distinct. They have their own look, feel, and personality. Fallout 3’s gloomy, grey-skied setting is more evocative, but in terms of writing and design, New Vegas feels more like the earlier 2D games&mdash;likely a result of many of Obsidian’s developers having previously worked on Fallouts 1 and 2.&nbsp;</p><p> Bethesda is a lot better at making RPGs these days. Fallout 3 is still fun, but it feels janky and bloated compared to Skyrim, which streamlined a lot of the more fiddly elements. Also, you’ll have a hard time running it on modern versions of Windows. Some people report no problems at all, but you may well have to spend time tweaking settings to be able to play without it crashing constantly. It’s high time Bethesda released a patch to make it run on new PCs. The version currently on Steam still has Games For Windows Live in it, for pity’s sake.&nbsp;</p><p> People will always want to return to Fallout 3, even with 4&nbsp;out. It’s one of the most satisfying RPGs on PC to just go for a wander in. Pick a direction, walk, and see what you find. It might be just another mutated mole-rat, but it could be a forgotten vault to explore or a new wasteland weirdo to make friends with. Your character is known as the Lone Wanderer, and it’s the perfect name: the magic of Fallout 3 isn’t chasing your boring dad around or finding a way to purify water, but wandering the broken remains of civilisation and shaping your own destiny.</p> The 8 best moments from Smite's 2015 Super Regionalshttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-8-best-moments-from-smites-2015-super-regionals/Eight plays from last week's Smite Super Regionals, broken down to explain what's happening and why they're awesome.Mon, 23 Nov 2015 16:06:08 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-8-best-moments-from-smites-2015-super-regionals/MOBAProSmite <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1Ty3e3kuQS2t.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vZMttWhiT9Zk.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Smite Sol"></p><p> There’s been a whole lot of professional Smite at Hi-Rez Studios this November for the&nbsp;<a href="http://esports.smitegame.com/2015/09/14/hi-rez-studios-announces-the-super-regionals/">Super Regionals</a>. Six straight days of it! The 10 best pro teams from North America and Europe have fought a few one-sided matches and just as many down-to-the-wire best of fives as you’d expect with a trip to the World Championship on the line. From the matches that I watched, I’ve picked out some of my favorite moments&mdash;the ones that showed off an amazing team fight or star play, changed the tide of a match, or exemplified something interesting about professional Smite.</p><p> You don’t have to be a Smite fan to enjoy or understand most of these plays. If you’ve ever watched or played a similar MOBA, like League of Legends or Dota 2, you should mostly be able to follow what’s going on. One important thing to remember: Smite is played from a behind-the-back third-person perspective like an action game, rather than top-down. The spectator camera makes everything look <em>much</em> easier than it actually is on the ground, where abilities are setting off flashy effects, players can’t see over walls, and pretty much every attack in the game is a skillshot.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QPeVycQzQxe7.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0HSSH8drZbzp.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="smite-siege3"></p><p> This is what Smite looks like from the ground. Situational awareness is tough.</p><p> Each video below is timecoded to just before the play kicks off.</p><h3>Perfect Geb shield timing robs Cloud9 of a kill</h3><p> <strong>Eager vs. Cloud9: NA Semifinals match four</strong></p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/hVipQyTtCKA?start=1709" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> In this matchup, second-seed Eager are behind third-seed Cloud9 two games to one. They need this game to force a fifth match in the series. They’re ahead here, but pull off a smart play that further cements their lead. When solo laner Omega is jumped by three members of Cloud9, Eager perfectly capitalizes on the moment by taking the Gold Fury to give their team a significant gold lead. The other two members of Cloud9 come in to try to kill Eager’s squishier gods, with high damage-dealing mage Zhong Kui. A perfectly timed shield from Eager’s support Geb, played by PolarBearMike, saves Isis (mid-laner Lassiz) from death. It’s an impressive shield, especially because Zhong Kui’s ultimate deals damage over time. PolarBearMike made a few clutch Geb shields in this match that helped Eager win and take it to a fifth, but things fell apart there.</p><h3>Envy's Mercury and his fists of fury</h3><p> <strong>EnvyUs vs. Enemy: NA semifinals</strong></p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Vhv0UNAX_s0?start=848" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> This fight doesn’t look great for EnvyUs; Enemy gets two kills almost immediately and Mercury is outside the fight, low on health and with most of his abilities on cooldown. Then Weak3n playing Mercury ults through the fight, which sets him dashing quickly along a straight line and injuring any god he touches. He gets a kill and run away, with Serquet chasing for what should be a sure kill. But with a tiny sliver of health, Mercury turns around and melee attacks Serquet, killing her at the last second with a single basic hit.</p><p> It’s more damage than you’d ever expect to see from a basic attack this early in the game, but the answer lies in Mercury’s passive ability, which builds up damage on his basic attacks based on how much he’s moved (0.1% per 1ft traveled). As he runs away from the fight, he builds up just enough extra damage to really clock Serquet.</p><h3>Paradigm turns a tower dive into a Fire Giant into a win</h3><p> <strong>Fnatic vs. Paradigm: EU Semifinals match one</strong></p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/o6tFDP_hed0?start=848" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> This is how quickly a match can swing. It’s even, with Fnatic favored in the match, but a poor tower dive by Thor gives Paradigm a free kill. Suddenly the fight shifts to Fnatic’s tower as Paradigm goes on the offensive. Things cool down for about a minute, but then Paradigm’s Bacchus tower dives and sets Fnatic scrambling. The way this fight plays out is a testament to Paradigm’s communication. They smoothly and quickly switch targets to focus Fnatic’s Janus rather than diving in, saving one of their teammates and then moving over to the Fire Giant. They pull out the win a couple minutes later.</p><p> This match also exemplifies the pacing differences between NA and EU Smite. American teams tend to play a faster and more aggressive game, with more kills and teamfights throughout early and mid-game. European teams often wait until late game to rack up more kills, and a big teamfight in late game, with long respawn times, can end a match very quickly. As soon as Paradigm grabs a couple kills and the Fire Giant buff, this one’s over.</p><h3>Paradigm says: Gimme that fuckin’ high-five, bro! </h3><p> <strong>Fnatic vs. Paradigm: EU Semifinals match two</strong></p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/07A9mIfdaEg?start=2281" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> Paradigm are 100% energy, and somehow also coordinated at the same time. Paradigm was already ahead in this match and didn’t make an amazing play, but it’s a smart team fight during which we actually got to listen into the team comms. It’s a fun chance to hear how excited they are during the play and how they call their shots.</p><h3>Fnatic says: “Fuck. Wildcard it is, boys.” </h3><p> <strong>Fnatic vs. Paradigm: EU Semifinals match three</strong></p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/GkVYGhjgv_A?start=1958" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> This was Fnatic’s game to lose, and they lost it. They’re ahead of Paradigm here, and make a fatal mistake by trying to grab Fire Giant while Paradigm is up and at full health. Then they overcommit to getting Fire Giant instead of pivoting to fight Paradigm and end up taking damage from both sources. It ends...badly. Paradigm’s win secures them a trip to the Smite World Championship.</p><h3>EnvyUs passes on a ban!?</h3><p> <strong>Eager vs. EnvyUs: NA wildcard match two</strong></p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/JCSeJdbKsV4?start=95s" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> This is something I’ve never seen before in competitive Smite, or any competitive game, for that matter. EnvyUs has won the first game and only needs one more win to make it to the wild card match. At the beginning of the second match, during the picks and bans phase, they pass on a ban. This adds ambiguity and forces Eager to spend time during their pick phase guessing at which god EnvyUs is planning to pick for a jungler. Eager makes a sensible choice and bans EnvyUs’ previous jungle pick Mercury, so EnvyUs can get the God they really want: Hun Batz.</p><p> Or at least, that’s what it seems like. From the outside it looks like a smart, smart play, even if they end up losing the match thanks to an amazing performance by Eager’s Omega, as seen in the next clip.</p><h3>World Champion Omega 2v1</h3><p> <strong>Eager vs. EnvyUs: NA wildcard match three</strong></p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/JCSeJdbKsV4?start=1844" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> Here Omega shows why he’s one of the best players in competitive Smite. Eager loses this teamfight, allowing EnvyUs’s Zhong Kui to escape with no health to his name. Thor whiffs an ult. Eager retreats, Omega returns to base, and EnvyUs stays around to take the Gold Fury. But then! Omega warps to a ward by the duo lane and comes up behind EnvyUs, taking them completely by surprise and killing the low health Zhong Kui. He then 2v1s EnvyUs long enough for his team to come in, clean up, and score the Gold Fury. Omega single-handedly sets Eager on the path to victory, and they secure the win 15 minutes later.</p><h3>Paradigm’s Trixtank makes the smoothest steal of the tournament</h3><p> <strong>Paradigm vs. Epsilon: EU finals match five</strong></p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ZNQTKxj3mHo?start=420" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> Maximum hijinks: activate. Paradigm and Epsilon each have two wins in the EU final match, so it all comes down to this--but they’re also both guaranteed a spot at the World Championship, so some unusual strategies and picks have come out this series. Paradigm’s Trixtank starts the final match by sneaking into the enemy jungle, blinking into the neutral camp as soon as they kill the red buff, and using Sun Wukong’s bird form to escape and flyyyyy away. You know Epsilon was pissed about that.</p><p> This is a standout cheeky moment in Paradigm’s battle against Epsilon, but the whole five game series is incredible. Epsilon has been utterly dominant in the EU scene, but Paradigm takes them to five games. And wins.</p><hr><p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> ​Stellaris will have 32 player matches fought across 1,000 star systemshttp://www.pcgamer.com/stellaris-will-have-32-player-matches-fought-across-1000-star-systems/We got an early look at Stellaris, and its multiplayer might setit apart from the pack.Mon, 23 Nov 2015 14:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/stellaris-will-have-32-player-matches-fought-across-1000-star-systems/4XParadox InteractiveStellaris <p>c<img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7o9kMHO9QLKi.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tPJSjv7v1S0o.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Stellaris Screenshot 20151118 09 Fleet Movement" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p>Paradox Interactive stopped by last week to give us a brief look at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/stellaris-how-paradox-plan-to-make-an-infinite-grand-strategy/">Stellaris</a>, and while the galactic grand strategy game looked cool as a whole, I came away most excited by its multiplayer. And not even the multiplayer gameplay itself, exactly, but the possibilities of what its scope allows. Stellaris’ largest map size generates a four-armed spiral galaxy with 1000 inhabitable stars spread across it&mdash;each with a solar system and planets of its own&mdash;which leaves enough room for a whopping 32 players or AI factions to fight for supremacy. That’s going to make for some amazing stories.</p><p>Game Director&nbsp;Henrik Fåhraeus&nbsp;told me that although Stellaris’ early game plays out similarly to other 4X games, its mid and late games are more like&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/crusader-kings-2/">Crusader Kings 2</a>, with a focus on politics and land grabs. Simply purging the galaxy of other species isn’t always the best option, and welcoming other races into your empire can benefit both of you. You can even form a Galactic Federation with other species, giving control of all political decisions to a rotating leader and sharing a victory if you can achieve it. That’s an interesting feature in single-player, but bring that system into a large-scale multiplayer setting and it sounds phenomenal.</p><p>Like Paradox’s previous games,&nbsp;Stellaris isn’t turn-based&mdash;instead ticking away ‘days’ at a game speed only the host can adjust&mdash;which makes&nbsp;the multiplayer more appealing to me. How quickly you make decisions and (to a certain extent) your ability to micro become real factors of success.&nbsp;Fåhraeus said&nbsp;they worked hard to reduce the amount of things you need to closely micro-manage&mdash;you have no direct control over units in combat, for example&mdash;so it won't end up feeling like StarCraft, but it will reward skilled players for thinking faster than their opponents.</p><p>And, of course, you don’t have to play against 31 people&mdash;a small galaxy with a 1v1 match could be just as interesting&mdash;but it’s the potential for giant wars that&nbsp;excites me. I’m glad Paradox made multiplayer a priority, because I want to hear the&nbsp;crazy stories that will inevitably emerge about rival Federations locked in 100+ hour games. And if Crusader Kings 2 is any indication of things to come, I can’t wait to see what the modders do to this one.</p><p>Stellaris doesn't currently have a release date, but it's coming next year.</p><p><strong>[Update: </strong>Reworded a phrase in the third paragraph which made it sound like Paradox's previous games were turn-based. They aren't.<strong>]</strong></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/fTK8nqtAT8yo.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/MY1ssq0ATiji.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Stellaris Screenshot 20151118 06 Astroid"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WAEpvDVjQrWX.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WHVKB00xhYME.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Stellaris Screenshot 20151118 10 Custum Race Creation"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bGuazpaATEWw.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/8-60M8kS7X_9.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Stellaris Screenshot 20151118 01 Planet View"></p> Fallout 4 mod provides improved conversation UIhttp://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-mod-provides-improved-conversation-ui/Plus promisingmods for The Witcher 3, Skyrim, and Mount Blade: Warband.Sun, 22 Nov 2015 15:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-mod-provides-improved-conversation-ui/Fallout 4Mod of the WeekMod RoundupModsMount and Blade: WarbandThe Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bHjLzzp9TgCs.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kX0UT5TWP_Qm.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witcher"></p><p>On this week's Mod Roundup, a better way to conduct conversations in Fallout 4, followers that level with you in Skyrim, a complete&mdash;and we do mean <em>complete</em>&mdash;overhaul of The Witcher 3, and a big update for a Game of Thrones mod for Mount &amp; Blade: Warband.</p><p>Here are the most promising mods we've seen this week.</p><h2>Full Dialogue Interface, for Fallout 4</h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3TgFf11vSwKO.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NKgiU3GzPdT8.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 4 dialog mod"></p><p>Fallout 4's conversation UI leaves a lot to be desired. For example, instead of a list of full responses,&nbsp;you only get a brief idea of the <em>tone </em>of what you might say. It can lead to some misunderstandings. And, since this is your character, it makes sense that you'd know what you were actually going to say before you say it.&nbsp;This mod reverts the system to one more similar to Fallout 3 and New Vegas.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/1235/?">Find it here</a>.</p><h2>Followers Level With You, for Skyrim</h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0HX7_hddSKui.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/g6txjj6bGt8u.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="skmod"></p><p>As you climb the ladder of power in Skyrim, you followers join you... up to a point. Most followers have a level cap of 20, and&nbsp;you may have noticed that&nbsp;when you reach level 40 or 50 your lackeys are&nbsp;comparatively weak against your enemies (to the point that they're getting their lights knocked out immediately). This mod,&nbsp;<a href="http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=554575629">available on the Steam workshop</a>, means they'll level right alongside you. The Skyrim's the limit.</p><h2>School of the Roach, for The Witcher 3</h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kt2XKaqPRB6N.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/23yzNMhDQI79.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Witchmod"></p><p>Modders are hard at work on changes&mdash;major ones&mdash;to The Witcher 3. The&nbsp;School of the Roach mod&nbsp;just entered open beta, and it comes with&nbsp;a huge list of changes, starting with increases to&nbsp;the game's difficulty. It also aims to&nbsp;improve combat, rework the economy, provide a more realistic encumbrance system, and make&nbsp;changes to the leveling system. Alchemy, armor, weapons, skills, menus... it sounds like nothing is being overlooked.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/witcher3/mods/882/?">Read more about it, and help test the beta, right here</a>.</p><h2>A World of Ice and Fire, Beta 8, for Mount &amp; Blade: Warband</h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/yPAUtuD0TQit.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/GhNtRUd0uXy0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Icemod"></p><p>This mod for Mount &amp; Blade: Warband, which transforms the game into Westeros from Game of Thrones,&nbsp;first arrived in 2013, but it's still being improved and added to. It's just entered it's 8th beta version and with it arrives a whole host of changes, additions, and improvements. The list of changes is too long to tackle here, but <a href="http://www.moddb.com/mods/a-world-of-ice-and-fire">you can read more about it, and download it,&nbsp;it at Mod DB</a>.</p> Testing out Smite's new Journey to the West-themed 3v3 maphttp://www.pcgamer.com/testing-out-smites-new-journey-to-the-west-themed-3v3-map/Chinese mythology gets its own map for Smite 3v3,with a dramatic layout change that could be great for competitive play.Sat, 21 Nov 2015 19:51:59 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/testing-out-smites-new-journey-to-the-west-themed-3v3-map/MOBAProSmite <p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0rJoX9G-QC2H.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cMU9J9SOWAsl.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Concept art for Smite's new Joust map." class=""><figcaption>Concept art for Smite's new Joust map.</figcaption></figure></p><p> It’s the middle of Smite’s Super Regionals, a six day LAN event that will determine which of the five best pro teams from North America and Europe will go to the world championship. But at the moment, I’m not watching those teams duke it out: I’m playing Smite on its new 3v3 Joust map, which is still in development at Hi-Rez. It’s immediately obvious that the new map, modeled after the Cloud Palace from Chinese fable Journey to the West, is more lush and ornate than its two-year-old predecessor. Even unfinished, it’s full of unique flourishes. New phoenix models. Towers encircled by Chinese dragons. A natural side and a side packed with intricate Chinese architecture, to make each team’s base visually distinct.</p><p> It’s going to be Smite’s prettiest map when it’s all finished, but more importantly, I think it’s going to make players want to Joust. There’s now only one “side” of jungle on the map, following along beside a single wavy lane, which houses two mana buffs and a new Fire Giant-esque neutral monster, who will grant your entire team a powerful buff. At the centerpoint of the lane across from the jungle is a damage buff, which is close enough to the lane to be a risky grab when the enemy team is pushing past up.</p><p> Not only are there fewer buffs than the six on the old Joust map, the buffs are placed in a way that should make for more frequent and more interesting fights and ganks, especially damage camp and the lesser Fire Giant. The jungle in Smite’s old Joust map has always felt restrictive, to me. The length of each path limits opportunities for jukes and allows a dominant team to bottle you up in your base, trapped by the distance between the entrance by the phoenix and the exit mid-lane.</p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/RIJs6-g78NQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> In just two matches on the new map, I had a range of jungle experiences more typical of a Conquest game. I scored a gank in mid by running out of the jungle and dropping a stun on someone who had overextended. I used Hades’ teleport to go under the jungle wall from the lane into a mana camp, thinking I’d catch someone stealing it (there was no one there, but hey, free mana buff!) I experimented with wards and realized there were at least five intersections where a ward would be useful. I got blocked by a Ymir wall trying to chase through the jungle. I used a few kills as opportunity to grab the power buff for our team’s carry.</p><p> Both matches were fun, still fast-paced at about 20 minutes, and felt more varied than the Joust matches I remember, even without much team coordination or strategy around picking up buffs. If that depth holds up under more matches, Joust could easily pull up closer to Conquest as a competitive mode, which would make it a great training ground for anyone without a five-player team at the ready. The mobility alone should make for more interesting matches.</p><p> Hi-Rez hasn’t said when the new map will come out, and it’s still clearly a work in progress: the mana buff monsters weren't completely textured, and Gold Fury was used as a stand-in for the new buff camp. They'll be showing off more of the map at the World Championship in January. A release shortly after with the start of season three would be a smart bet.</p><hr> <p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> The Dota 2 Frankfurt Major has its champions (spoilers!)http://www.pcgamer.com/the-dota-2-frankfurt-major-has-its-champions-spoilers/A fairlytale ending to an incredible tournament.Sat, 21 Nov 2015 19:50:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-dota-2-frankfurt-major-has-its-champions-spoilers/Dota 2esportsMOBAPro <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6aCBPaMf_U8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> <em>Warning! Spoilers follow for the Dota 2 Frankfurt Major</em>.</p><p> This was a fairytale ending. After seven fiercely-fought games across the lower bracket final and grand final, OG have become the first winners of a Dota 2 Major. They’ll take home $1.1m.</p><p> Formerly known as (monkey) Business, OG picked up a sponsor late and arrived at the tournament through the European qualifier. Unlike the most of the teams they faced on the road to the final, they weren’t invited. They also failed to qualify for the upper bracket during the group stage, meaning that they had to take the longest possible road to get here, facing elimination at every step of the way.</p><p> Yesterday, they surprised the world by taking out talented Chinese squad EHOME. That won them a spot against EG this morning: this being (mostly) the same EG that won the International only a few months ago. The resulting contest was thrilling: a confident start for EG giving way to two amazing games by OG. In the first, they snowballed off the back of a Tiny-Alchemist combo that they’ve run before. In the second, they struggled a little against a North American squad that was intent to dodge fights and farm. In the end, however, OG managed to clinch victory through a succession of amazing plays by relative newcomers Miracle- and Cr1t- as well as Heroes of Newerth veteran MoonMeander.</p><p> That’s how they got to the final: but they final was something else. After the EG match, MoonMeander described Secret’s legendary captain, Puppey, as the “end boss” of the Dota scene. OG’s raid was approaching its final phase. Defeat here would still be an incredible achievement for a qualifier team. Secret's fans gathered on one side of the arena floor, OG’s on the other. I don’t think anybody expected a showing quite as convincing as the one OG delivered next.</p><p> Game one, embedded above, was a stomp. A virtuoso turn by Miracle- on Invoker (a fan-favourite hero who has only made a few appearances at this event) completely shut down Secret. Dota has been through phases in its life where clutch skill was ultimately not enough to trump macro-scale strategy. This match bucked that trend, as did many of OG’s other performances: they pressed on through nerve and bravado, a little like the scene’s original darlings, Na’Vi.</p><p> Game two was a sixty minute-plus epic, but similarly impressive. Secret put up a fierce resistance, but they couldn’t overcome one of the best support pairs in the world in OG’s Fly and Cr1t-. All that crazy aggression from N0tail, MoonMeander and Miracle- was translated into victories by phenomenal defensive play. Watch through to the end to see Secret’s plans fall apart as first Cr1t- and then MoonMeander deliver perfect performances on Tusk and Earthshaker.</p><p> In game three, Puppey’s reputation as a drafter asserted itself. He locked out the defensive supports that had formed the basis of OG’s victories and pulled out an unorthodox draft including Wraith King that seemed to take OG off guard. This was one-sided the other way. Puppey has a reputation for ultimately winning series when he draws a bead on his opponent’s weakness: despite their two game advantage, a 3-2 result in Secret’s favour didn’t look impossible at this point.</p><p> In game four, OG once again found their preferred defensive options banned or picked. This gave them access to often-banned hero Doom, however, as well as Miracle-’s signature Shadow Fiend. Their solution to the absence of Tusk, Winter Wyvern and Dazzle was ingenious: they used Doom’s Devour to pick up Frost Armour from a jungle creep and stacked this with Lich’s own Frost Armour to create absolutely absurd damage mitigation for their core heroes. They surrounded this with Cr1t-’s brilliant Rubick and N0tail’s Brewmaster. Together, they were able to use Shadow Fiend as a battering ram: threatening barracks early and maintaining the pressure through setbacks.</p><p> Having seized map control early, they outmaneuvered Secret and forced errors that lead them to the Ancient and, ultimately, the championship. As the pyrotechnics settled down and they began their post-match on-stage interview, something happened that I’ve never seen in years of covering Dota LANs: the OG side of the audience surged forwards, invading the stage and mobbing their heroes. Forgive the dodgy camera phone photo: this is one of the best endings I’ve seen to one of the best tournament runs in the history of the game.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iWgw2hGXQ8y9.jpeg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-xWwnWk0SIBz.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Image"></p><p> In a press conference afterwards, N0tail emphasised the role of trust in OG’s victory.</p><p> ”What is most important in Dota is the things that are outside of the game” he said. “You are five individuals that have to try to act as a single unit. For you to achieve something close to a single unit, you have to be able to trust each other. To trust each other, you have to like each other. There are a million factors outside of the game. To be good at the game is not enough to win a tournament, or even get top three. That’s what I really like about the game.”</p><p> “Somebody like Miracle-, he’s so talented. But without his niceness, his genuineness, the reasons we like him, his talent wouldn’t be used and we wouldn’t be able to achieve what we achieved today. I value it more than anything.”</p><p> Imagine if every Dota player felt that way.</p><hr> <p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> How to find Fallout 4's extra hairstyles, tattoos, and face painthttp://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-hairstyles-tattoos-and-face-paint-guide/Where to find 'em and how to use 'em.Sat, 21 Nov 2015 19:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-hairstyles-tattoos-and-face-paint-guide/Bethesda SoftworksFallout 4Must ReadRPG <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/B2i9l6hjSIGg.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/liprduL2hN_b.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4face"></p><p> Recently,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-find-a-complete-x-01-power-armor-set-in-fallout-4/">James showed you how to acquire a set of awesome and iconic&nbsp;X-01 power armor</a> in Fallout 4. Today, I'll direct you to something a bit more frivolous but, to my mind, just as important: all of the extra hair styles, face paints, and facial tattoos available in the game, how to find them, and how to put&nbsp;them on.</p><p>Fallout 4's character creator is pretty good, but it's not the end of the line in terms of determining your character's looks. Once you leave the vault you can keep tweaking your features, hair styles, and facial markings in a couple of different ways:&nbsp;by finding special vendors, by locating magazines that give you extra options, and by, well, cheating.&nbsp;This guide will walk you through all those options so you'll always look your best. Or silliest. Or scariest. Your call.</p><p><em>Skip to the last page if you'd prefer to just cheat. We won't judge you.</em></p><h2>Face&nbsp;paint and grime</h2><p> If you're looking to freshen your looks or dirty your face, you can visit a facial&nbsp;surgeon named Doc Crocker&nbsp;in Diamond City Market. Right next to&nbsp;Doctor Sun's outdoor office, enter the&nbsp;door&nbsp;marked Mega Surgery Center.&nbsp;In addition to letting you change your physical features, just like you do in the character creator, Crocker gives you access to face&nbsp;paint and grime. And there's a ton of different options.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/UPrkezHnSwC_.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gVZk9kx4RxXr.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4face" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p>Face paint is perfect for those of you who want to blend in&nbsp;and look like a raider, or at least like a real badass. You don't have to choose between the different paints, either: you can enable as many as you like at the same time. Face paint also comes in different colors, just&nbsp;like makeup.</p><p> You can use the same surgeon to add grime as well, which includes coal soot, dirt, dust, mud, blood, and other smudges and splotches that will reflect your numerous&nbsp;trips and trials in the wastes. Grime can be mixed and matched with face&nbsp;paint, so you can look&nbsp;both terrifying <em>and </em>filthy.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/sFsgPQ0VTf6e.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EHabNgGbEfiq.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4face" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; width: 668px;"></p><h2>Barbers</h2><p>Next,&nbsp;hairstyles.&nbsp;You can visit a&nbsp;barber in the game at any time to change your&nbsp;hairdo, and they give you access to a few&nbsp;new ones that aren't a part of the character creator, such as mohawks for both male and female characters (as seen above), and a couple other&nbsp;options (below). There's also a smattering of new&nbsp;facial hair options for dudes&nbsp;available from barbers.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WJDGA2n3S1qX.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BWSlpZ7BYS6U.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4face"></p><p>The easiest barber to find is in Diamond City Market, and there's also one in Vault 81. In Diamond City Market,&nbsp;Look for a big sign that says Super Salon and talk to John, the young man&nbsp;wearing the&nbsp;varsity&nbsp;jacket.</p><h2>Extra Hairstyles</h2><p> There are also two issues of a&nbsp;magazine called Le Coiffe&nbsp;you can find in the world that allow you additional hairstyles not available anywhere else. One is perhaps the greatest hairstyle ever created. It's called the Megaton and it makes you look like you think about atomic bombs all day. Which you probably do.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Rh16JxP1SRaI.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/latPdNIZ4Wsh.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4face" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p>You can find this issue of Le Coiffe magazine in Fallon's Department store. If you head south from Diamond City and run for a while, you'll eventually come across a&nbsp;three-story building with a big Fallon's sign on it. The magazine is on a round table in&nbsp;the smallest room on the top floor. There are other things in other rooms, so I'd bring a gun of some sort. A big one.&nbsp;Here's the location (you can click the upper right corner of these images to enlarge):</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tjHnAChPSCa_.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/lXdewDVI6ksN.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallon"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/h9KghQ0nSUuN.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/DavXw4xDCc6k.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallons1"></p><p>The second issue of LeCoiff&nbsp;is in the Charlestown Laundry, which is just southeast of&nbsp;Bunker Hill. It's not marked on the map so it's not easy to find, but below is the location and what it looks like, best spotted&nbsp;by the red truck out front and a couple of small&nbsp;dry cleaning signs on the building.&nbsp;You'll find Le Coiffe in a laundry basket sitting on top of one of the washing machines. It provides you with a lovely, towering beehive called The Hornet's Nest. Both of these hairstyles can be used by male or female characters.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/n497xoQBRaO9.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3dMnb155ITk5.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Beehive2"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-IEIUej3TraQ.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/f68XTT6Ub06T.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Beehive1"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/b3ZYdYjqSdyE.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9TTHEgNDw3UH.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Hair2" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p>To activate these new&nbsp;hairstyles, just visit barber. Or, keep reading and I'll tell you how to change your hairstyle whenever you want.</p><p>On the next page, let's get into facial tattoos.</p><h2><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/v0A-WRQYTS6C.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-Ip4tXnrB87K.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4face" style="color: rgb(154, 154, 154); font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; width: 668px;"></h2><h2>Tattoos</h2><p>There are five issues of a magazine called&nbsp;Taboo Tattoos hidden in Fallout 4, and five tats&mdash;four for your face and one for your neck&mdash;that come with them. As with face paint and grime, you can activate the tattoos by visiting the surgeon in Diamond City. Here's where to find the magazines.</p><h2>Lucky Clover</h2><p>This is the only cheek tattoo (see above).&nbsp;Head to Mass Pike Tunnel East, and head there with a large weapon and a can-do attitude because good lord&nbsp;it's a supremely&nbsp;nasty place full of horrible, horrible things. Once you're underground, head into the southern tunnels. When you spot a small room with a power armor station, look around for a couple skeletons. Next to one, along with some junk on the floor,&nbsp;you'll find the issue of Taboo Tattoos.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-zaYaFgERyS0.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/yMbDT2Ndqy5A.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Luck3"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bozEsVz7Q627.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RfCdMlZOXjWr.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Luck1"></p><h2>Eagle</h2><p>This is a pretty sweet tattoo that covers the front of&nbsp;your neck (you can see it in the image up top). You'll find it in Concord (I assume you don't need directions to Concord). On the main street, look for a red truck. Behind it is an alleyway, and in the alley there's a cellar door marked Concord Civic Access. Head inside, and on your way down the stairs you'll pass&nbsp;a small room. Next to a steamer trunk you'll find the magazine.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uQ8UQLoLR5WR.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/pSzrwi5BD1gO.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Eagle3"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LtwXF3wvQyCA.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/14oGVLNwrGPT.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Eagle4"></p><h2>Radiation Skull</h2><p>This forehead tattoo featuring a radiation symbol with a skull in the center&nbsp;can be acquired at the Irish Pride Industries Shipyard, which is dead&nbsp;north of Bunker Hill. Inside the main building, there's a ship. Inside the ship, there's a metal lunch table with a lit&nbsp;lantern sitting on it. The magazine is next to it.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/f4qKS1KgRaKt.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/htFSIbFa0LYG.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4face"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bQlZtvvxQ6yB.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uZugAYY2FOND.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Skull1"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/537CECUlTOOU.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/o5Z0ks042DRo.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Skull2"></p><h2>Bad Luck Horseshoe</h2><p>You'll find this in Vault 81, which is west of Diamond City. Look for a barbershop on the lower floor, it's marked with a sign. The magazine is on a small table inside. While you're there, you can also get a haircut.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YZs5GpR4QDaw.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/JLg9AABKpAkF.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Badluck"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/GLe9IzZgTGGm.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mm3RHzAhnkAw.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Badluck"></p><h2>Nautical Anchor</h2><p>This one is easy. Head to Thicket Excavations, a quarry due east of Red Rocket Truck Stop, very close to where you begin the game. At the quarry, on the southern edge of the pit, there are three small trailers. In the trailer closest to the pit, it's on the desk inside.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vwzwQOFZR2uR.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/S6OqYyljmrOy.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Naut"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2LaoqNwBSAqS.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/jzMh5C-5ZqGY.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Nautical"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/R2HIJx8BS06p.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/GzoUZ08xSEe8.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Nautircal2"></p><p>On the final page, a way to make changes to your looks, hair, paint, and tattoos without having to actually visit a barber or surgeon!</p><h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gVRWfPfjQhmc.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/8J621rq8Pw8c.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4face"></p></h2><h2>Cheating</h2><p>Okay, let's say you want to change your looks or hairstyles but don't feel like making a special trip to have it done. Maybe you're not welcome in Diamond City. Maybe you just think you should be able to change your looks whenever you want. (You're right, you should.) I've got you covered. You can open the character creation utility anytime you like using a console code. Just follow these steps:</p><ul> <li>Find a chair in a quiet well-lit area, preferably&nbsp;somewhere outside in the sun. I'd suggest a place like Sanctuary, where you probably won't be disturbed, and you can even use the workbench to build or carry a chair out into the street.</li><li>Sit in the chair, switch to third-person view, and turn the camera so you're looking directly at your character's face from as close as you can get without entering back into first-person mode.</li><li>Save your game. You may make changes and realize you don't like them.</li><li>Open the console (using the tilde ~ key).</li><li>Type the following, without the quotation marks: 'showlooksmenu player 1' and press enter. Hit the tilde key again to close the console.</li></ul><p>Boom! You're now in the same character creation menu as you were in the vault, plus you've got access to&nbsp;the new hairstyles from the barber shop, plus the grease and face&nbsp;paint.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RUzUvYCUS5qV.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xQxzJT0iih0t.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Face"></p><p>It's a little harder to use, since your character will be engaging in idle animations and you're not zoomed in as close as you should be. However, it's perfect for swapping hairstyles and adding paint without having to go anywhere. When you're done, just exit the menu.</p><p>Note: the hairstyles and tattoos&nbsp;added by the magazines won't be there unless you've collected and read the magazines, so you'll still need to do that.</p><h2>More cheating</h2><p>So, you don't feel like going out and collecting those magazines, either, but you still want the tattoos and hairstyles that are contained within them? I totally understand. Let's use the console again. But this is a big huge honking cheat, so don't say I didn't warn you.</p><ul> <li>Open the console by pressing ~. Type (with no quotes) 'coc qasmoke' and press enter.</li></ul><p>You may have noticed you've been teleported into a weird dark room with a bunch of things in it. Some of those things are footlockers, and one of those footlockers has every book in the game inside it. Scroll through the list and take the Le Coiffe and Taboo Tattoo books with you. Try not to look at anything else in the room because there's a lot of other things. As in: every item in the game is in that room.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PTo0Z05xRgu7.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iwFz6pH4ccqu.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4face" style="width: 668px;"></p><p>Congratulations! You've got all the hairstyles and tattoos, and you know how to implement them without visiting a barber or surgeon. Unfortunately, you're trapped in this weird room forever since there's no exit and you can't fast travel from it to escape.</p><h2>Even more cheating</h2><p>So you're saying you don't want to spend the rest of your character's life in a weird room trying on hair? Fair enough!</p><ul> <li>Open the console again, type 'coc sanctuaryext' and press enter.</li></ul><p>You'll be teleported back to Sanctuary with the hairstyle books and whatever else you stole from that room. Which, I'm sure, is nothing. I'm sure you only stole those few books. Right?</p><p>Enjoy your new look!</p> Free games of the weekhttp://www.pcgamer.com/free-games-of-the-week/Don't leave me hanging on the telephone.Sat, 21 Nov 2015 17:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/free-games-of-the-week/browser gamesFree GamesIndieThe Best Free Games of the Week <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/A3WU3EjvRn2X.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/dRs_lUE3rcxZ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Call of Dudley"></p><p>This weekend, you briefly put down Fallout 4&nbsp;to take a look at the best free games of the week. INCLUDING: a move-limited match-3, Porpentine meets Myst, flyin' a plane around a weird place, call waiting, and look at this cool&nbsp;world I just&nbsp;made. Enjoy!</p><h3><a href="http://ded.increpare.com/~locus/anesthesia/" target="_blank">Anesthesia by Stephen Lavelle</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/enl1DR-aTd64.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/exJp27fvbPWz.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Anesthesia"></p><p>Increpare's latest (well, I'm not actually sure it <em>is</em> his latest; he's probably released a dozen games since I played this yesterday) is a seemingly&nbsp;simple match-3...with a twist. That twist is the big number at the top, which ticks down every time you make a move. Your goal, I assume, is to clear the board before that counter hits zero, and you can no longer input any moves. The cursor, by the way, swaps one block for another; match three or more to remove them from the board.</p><h3><a href="http://neotenomie.itch.io/bellular-hexatosis" target="_blank">Bellular Hexatosis by&nbsp;Porpentine, Charity Heartscape, and Brenda Neotenomie</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/UQ6dPaz6RK-x.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Xj7l88rYXMLe.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Bellular Hexatosis"></p><p>Bellular Hexatosis has everything you'd expect from a Porpentine game: garish, neony colours, some wonderful words, and some&nbsp;fantastic world-building. But all that has escaped the confines of the Twine format and been whacked into a Myst-style adventure game. In your quest to cure your sister's illness, you'll explore a weirdly beautiful&nbsp;3D world, rich with atmosphere and neat little details,&nbsp;and supported with a lovely dreamy&nbsp;soundtrack.</p><h3><a href="http://armelgibson.itch.io/oases" target="_blank">Oases by Armel Gibson and Dziff</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YZ1jNGEdTYKq.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Kfb-mI7AEOVn.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Oases"></p><p>I don't think this quite lives up to the intention expressed&nbsp;on the ending title card, but it's a fun little toybox worth messing around with for a few minutes&mdash;a wibbly wobbly,&nbsp;mushroomy game-thing, soundtracked by the inimitable&nbsp;Calum Bowen.</p><h3><a href="http://poor-track-design.itch.io/call-of-dudley" target="_blank">Call of Dudley by Poor Track Design</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/T5MGTK9pRzSS.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/UgRB0m16L1Dn.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Call of Dudley"></p><p>A meta first-person adventure set in a stripy labyrinth, one&nbsp;home to a bunch of occasionally ringing phones. Where are you? Who is the person on the other end of the phone? Well, that one isn't a <em>total</em> mystery: he's a dissident who, like you, has been thrown into this virtual telephone&nbsp;prison.</p><h3><a href="http://katierose.itch.io/mirrorlake" target="_blank">Mirror Lake by Katie Rose</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/wZyyKZBOTJ-v.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kN7vA-S-D38w.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Mirror Lake"></p><p>Mirror Lake randomly generates worlds in a bowl; a new world every couple of minutes, after it's finished evolving the previous one, by growing those trees, and all that fauna, etc etc. These are not worlds you'll&nbsp;interact with in any way, shape or form, but I loved watching them grow before my eyes. This is a beautiful thing, and I wish these worlds would stick around a little longer. Although maybe that's the point.</p><p><em style="background-color: initial;">Click through for recommendations from previous weeks.</em></p><p><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/star-raptor/105646" target="_blank" style="font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold;">Star Raptor by Y310 Games</a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tDoGkfDKT-eg.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uonDG09QdQ61.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Raptor"></p><p>The controls are a bit weird in this arcadey space game, so you might want to use a&nbsp;controller. It's a nice, clean-looking shoot-'em-up with a tough difficulty level, and a very hyperactive soundtrack you'll maybe want to mute. It's always&nbsp;good being in a spaceship in a galaxy full of space-baddies, and&nbsp;Star Raptor fulfils that brief pretty well.</p><h3><a href="http://konjakonjak.tumblr.com/post/132829696888/old-project-luxe-chalk" target="_blank">Luxe Chalk by Konjak</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/jWAuTi3PSzaX.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/pTeZ-4qyrkzT.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Luxe Chalk"></p><p>The original&nbsp;<a href="http://www.konjak.org/" target="_blank">Chalk</a> is one of my favourite freeware games, and out&nbsp;of&nbsp;the&nbsp;blue its creator Konjak has released this unfinished 'HD' sequel, which&nbsp;he was working on before starting&nbsp;Iconoclasts. Compared to the original, it's a more developed drawing-based shmup&nbsp;that introduces a few new mechanics, and I've really enjoyed what I've played of it so far. As with its predecessor, you clear obstacles by drawing lines with the mouse, and defeat enemies by drawing lines from their projectiles back to them. Several years later, it's still a winning idea.</p><h3><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/owl-cave-presents-tourist/107233" target="_blank">Tourist by Owl Cave</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/58EckeACRqqH.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NhHMM88TLGV0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Tourist"></p><p>Created for&nbsp;<a href="http://gamejolt.com/tag/asylumjam2015" target="_blank">Asylum Jam</a>, Tourist is a short room-escape (sorta) adventure game&nbsp;with some&nbsp;nice art, a palpable atmosphere,&nbsp;and a strong (warning: pretty dark and&nbsp;unsettling)&nbsp;ending. There's a lot of story contained&nbsp;in the item descriptions, so I suggest right-clicking on everything you possibly&nbsp;can.</p><h3><a href="http://rooksfeather.itch.io/homeland" target="_blank">Homeland by Rook</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7p5WKHs9S92k.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/17A2nJoIQKL2.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Homeland"></p><p><a href="http://rooksfeather.itch.io/fallowdemo1" target="_blank">Fallow</a> developer Rook made this for the&nbsp;<a href="http://kittyhorrorshow.itch.io/" target="_blank">Kitty Horrorshow</a> clone jam, and like many of Kitty's games it's a lonely wandering game with a&nbsp;story relayed through strewn&nbsp;crystal&nbsp;fragments. The difference here is&nbsp;voice acting, which mingles with the atmospheric music, and the&nbsp;mysterious, abstract&nbsp;setting, to pipe an intriguing short story into your head.</p><h3><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/reunition/107317" target="_blank">Reunition by Rage Monster Games</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hrbW0iBGTw66.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0HtZ1VNRbYsL.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Reunition"></p><p>Another Asylum Jam entry, Reunition&nbsp;is a puzzle-horror game featuring scrumptious pixel art, and an odd central mechanic I never quite figured out. It's something to do with mirrors, and your handy&nbsp;lantern, which you can dim to avoid the&nbsp;various hazards that want to do you in. You're trying to find your son, who's run off and gotten swallowed up by a creepy magic&nbsp;mirror. Or something. This has a bloomin' lovely atmosphere though.&nbsp;(Via&nbsp;<a href="http://wip.warpdoor.com/2015/11/11/reunition-rage-monster-games/" target="_blank">Warp Door</a>)</p><p><a href="http://snapman.itch.io/homesickened" target="_blank" style="font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold;">Homesickened by Snapman</a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/DR20gg0HST6A.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oVEoQi9_bEeV.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Homesickened"></p><p>Return to your creepy hometown in the aptly named Homesickened, an authentically retro first-person adventure that hasn't even heard of the words 'mouselook' or 'WASD'. (Alright, WASD isn't a word, but you know what I mean.) It's a sluggish, awkward game to control, but strangely all the better for it, the old-fashioned movement system complementing the moody pixel art remarkably well. I particularly like the soft whirs and clicks that sound as you walk around, suggesting an old computer struggling to render such a complex world.</p><h3><a href="http://sink.itch.io/crowtel" target="_blank">Crowtel by Sink</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Czxwt7UlSzuu.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/a0kNmEgP3rbp.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Crowtel"></p><p>You're a crow what runs a hotel, and Sink's game 'Crowtel' has gone and ripped off your life. So yes this is a very&nbsp;silly, lovely,&nbsp;vaguely Metroidvania-y platformer, about a crow trying to clean up his enormous hotel before the health inspectors are let loose on his property. It's&nbsp;Fawlty Towers meets Cave Story, basically, and if that doesn't make you curious then you are a husk, a <em>husk</em>, Madam/Sir.</p><h3><a href="http://birdland.camp/" target="_blank">Birdland by Brendan Patrick Hennessy</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/aYLE-jxJSr-G.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xafd-k9acb5l.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Birdland"></p><p>Birdland is a funny and wondrous piece of interactive fiction about a girl trying to get through summer camp. Half of the game is dedicated to the camp experience, featuring all the forced outdoor activities and awkward social interactions I've come to expect from American films. The other is dedicated to your dreams, which are invariably located in a world populated entirely by bird-people, and where you are the only human. Interestingly, it's also something of an RPG. You have stats, which will&nbsp;go up or down depending on your dream-choices, and that open or limit your dialogue options in the real world. Imaginative, and often hilarious stuff.</p><h3><a href="http://fromsmiling.itch.io/im-dead" target="_blank">I am dead where are my keys by From Smiling</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/C9sAZOThR6eG.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/AmAfNdEL5Z0b.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="I am dead"></p><p>Grab sweets in your flying car in I am dead, which like Undertale takes place in its own weird, wonderful universe where skeletons are some of the funniest&nbsp;people around. Finding the sweets won't take too long, but I just liked being in this world, listening to the&nbsp;deeply soothing soundtrack and chatting with the big floating&nbsp;skull at the centre of town.</p><h3><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/monster-streaking/88781">Monster Streaking by Beavl</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1I1Od9s4TQ6G.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Z6n0gFd69mN5.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Monster Streaking"></p><p>Monsters have arses too, and the green creature at the heart of Monster Streaking is determined to bear theirs for all the world to see. It's a cute and compelling&nbsp;auto-runner where you hold the left mouse button to advance, and release it to fall back, and you'll need to do both to avoid the various human obstacles on the bustling&nbsp;city streets. You acquire points by briefly&nbsp;pausing for photographs, and as you play you'll unlock additional creatures including Frankenstein's monster, a mummy, and Pinhead.</p><p><a href="http://kenruze.itch.io/attic" target="_blank" style="font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold;">Attic by Elliott Davis</a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/f1J7MI9nRsKt.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/b3vuG1z-AB9M.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Attic"></p><p>GameJolt has started organising jams dedicated to specific developers, encouraging others to make games in their (as it turns out) eminently imitable style. Attic is an entry in the&nbsp;<a href="http://kittyhorrorshow.itch.io/" target="_blank">Kitty Horrorshow</a> Clone Jam, and it captures the spirit of&nbsp;Kitty's first-person mood-and-poetry&nbsp;pieces remarkably well.</p><p>Here's the full&nbsp;<a href="http://jams.gamejolt.io/clonejamkittyhorrorshow/clonejam" target="_blank">Clone Jam schedule</a>. I can't wait to see what else comes out of this.</p><h3><a href="http://beanallean.itch.io/skelemania" target="_blank">Skelemania by Benal</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VgZA-Lz0TXiM.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5KVXFYzPG-9p.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Skelemania"></p><p>A pretty innovative Metroidvania, featuring a range of unique powers including a dive move, and the ability to roll your head under tiny gaps. I love the look of this platformer too; each area has its own one-colour palette, segmenting the strange little&nbsp;world in a clean, clear way.</p><h3><a href="http://alexvscoding.itch.io/morse" target="_blank">Morse by Alex Johansson</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VxOTLvxuRYSw.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/jFGA3nzDdoOX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Morse"></p><p>As far as I can tell, there's no fail state in Morse, despite the enemy planes, people and submarines constantly advancing on your plucky&nbsp;troops. Your job is to order attacks on your opponents, something you can only achieve by taking note of their coordinates and inputting morse code with a cursor key to target them. It's a wonderful control scheme, in a well-illustrated and atmospheric game with effective sound design, but I could have done with a reason to stick around once I'd figured out how to play.</p><h3><a href="http://alexvscoding.itch.io/flotate" target="_blank">Flotate by Alex Johansson</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PqYSgaIlQd-q.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Yjt4U-N6MeFg.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Flotate"></p><p>Well, this is a first. I try not to feature two games by the same developer in the same week, but I only noticed as I was putting this together that Alex Johansson made the funny Flotate as well. No matter. It's a silly&nbsp;local multiplayer game about some dudes in a pool, who are&nbsp;attempting to claim the sole rubber ring and emerge victorious. Using only two keys (four people can play using the same keyboard), you need to head for the ring, diving under to claim it in your name. Inventive, amusing stuff.</p><h3><a href="http://qwerty.itch.io/rejection" target="_blank">Rejection by qwerty</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/SUQ3ut14T9--.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tUVFd83xShB7.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Rejection"></p><p>Escape the (beautiful) room in this challenging&nbsp;sci-fi puzzler, which deposits you by a series of terminals with no apparent clue how to manipulate them to your advantage. What do all these symbols mean? Why are some red, and some green? You're allowed to make one move in each, before the computer shuts the frosty glass and opens up another, rotating back to the first eventually. qwerty's supplied a little help in the Itch.io page description:</p><p>"An experimental memory-type game.&nbsp;Find a way out of the room.&nbsp;Prepare a piece of paper and a pen."</p><p><a href="http://kyleseeley23.itch.io/emilyisaway" target="_blank" style="font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold;">Emily is Away by Kyle Seeley</a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/MoPKQtWrRz2-.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/35uur_kkdGmf.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Emily Is Away"></p><p>A wonderfully presented and authentically written adventure game set in an MSN-style messenger client.&nbsp;The look of this early-2000s-set piece of interactive fiction is spot-on, mimicking Windows XP, and Microsoft's popular chat program, in a pretty nostalgic way. The game itself plays out&nbsp;like a more hands-on Digital: A Love Story, but with added Telltale-style "Emily will remember that", and with&nbsp;branching dialogue.</p><h3><a href="http://farfin.itch.io/good-luck-gardener" target="_blank">Good Luck Gardener by Farfin</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9rEJRnfASnu0.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/4lSPJ17AvmgO.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Good Luck Gardener"></p><p>There's no ending that I can find, and no challenge really in this cutely dark gardening game, but I enjoyed the repetitious nature of Good Luck Gardener enough to see it through to its non-conclusion. To spoil pretty much everything&mdash;oh yeah,&nbsp;<em>spoiler warning</em>&mdash;you're a helpful gardening ghost, except you're not helpful at all, you're a spectral jerk. Plant cards, dice and coins in the expanding graveyard, then feed them to some happy humans. Some worried humans. Some ill-looking humans oh they're all dead.</p><p>Man, ghosts are assholes.&nbsp;</p><h3><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/binoculars-game/62599" target="_blank">Binoculars Game by Jake Clover</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/AilwsSp8S12B.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HXJbEKELLnDZ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Binoculars Game"></p><p>Wander around a couple of swampy locations in this sludgy, atmospheric game from Jake Clover. You can move right, and&nbsp;you can use your binoculars to look at a scene that resembles the one you're in. Look at all the little details, lose yourself in the weird scene. I love his clip-art-looking pixel art so much.</p><h3><a href="http://lorenschmidt.itch.io/skeleton-flower" target="_blank">Skeleton Flower by Loren Schmidt</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/z9jP7VQMR5Cj.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/77YxS6krqKaL.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Skeleton Flower"></p><p>Similar to Emily is Away, or a lot of modern adventure games, Loren Schmidt's Skeleton Flower gives you control over a fake operating system. You're looking at photos from someone's life&nbsp;that have been compressed into 1x1 resolution images&mdash;not much to go on, perhaps, but the accompanying capture date and description text help to illuminate things a bit.</p><p>A bit. It's still a very cryptic game, but a masterfully fake-glitchy one with it.</p><h3><a href="http://bartbonte.itch.io/where-is-cat" target="_blank">Where is Cat? by Bart Bonte</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/UdP5n0ddRI-P.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HphJTkvNeHIQ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Where is Cat"></p><p>This is basically Where's Wally, but with a cat. Bart Bonte worked with his kids to make this&mdash;they drew a lot of the objects, came up with the story, and made the artwork you can see above&mdash;and the result is one of the loveliest hidden object games I've played. It's possibly the funniest, too, capturing the greedy, mysterious, and cute nature of real cats everywhere.</p><h3><a href="http://jonathanwhiting.com/games/knossu/" target="_blank">Knossu by Jonathan Whiting</a></h3><h3><a href="http://jonathanwhiting.com/games/knossu/" target="_blank"></a><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Ngn4NXLXRt6k.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gz_Gm_xwwsQf.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Knossu" style="font-size: 14px; color: rgb(154, 154, 154); background-color: initial;"></h3><p>Whiting describes Knossu is a "non-euclidean horror game", a Lovecraftian term that tends to describe geometrically weird places&mdash;and so this is. It's a game about exploring a tricksy maze that loops back on itself, that warps you around with apparent abandon, that feels expansive and claustrophobic at the same time. I desperately&nbsp;want to talk about this labyrinth's innovative&nbsp;monster, but I don't want to spoil the monster&mdash;so I'll just implore you again to play Knossu immediately. Man.</p><h3><a href="http://origamihero.itch.io/treasure-hunter-man-2" target="_blank">Treasure Hunter Man 2 by origamihero</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oqZgme5TRcSW.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/OJvxx9m6dYm4.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Treasure Hunter Man 2"></p><p>A Metroidvania about a mother searching for her teenage son. Like most mothers searching for their teenage children, she battles monsters, destroys blocks, and evades spikes as she explores a lovely desert&nbsp;island. It's like&nbsp;a fast-paced, smaller Treasure Adventure Game, this,&nbsp;not quite as good but then few exploratory platformers are.</p><h3><a href="http://capsule2.paperblurt.com/" target="_blank">Capsule II by PaperBlurt</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-suONVIfT7u6.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xsF-4CGhLFiA.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Capsule II"></p><p>I've not played the first Capsule, but I don't feel like I missed anything in&nbsp;playing PaperBlurt's funny, dark and gripping sci-fi sequel. You're a cryogenically unfrozen caretaker, aboard an ark&nbsp;carrying humanity through a handy&nbsp;space-hole, and you first have to contend with your own boredom, then your own&nbsp;madness, then...well, I'm not going to spoil this one either. But it's a bit horrific.</p><h3><a href="http://jamesshasha.itch.io/sonam" target="_blank">Sonam in the Storm by James Shasha</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/esq7p1ZLSsq7.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/SPpi8SozpVGf.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Sonam"></p><p>A very short piece of interactive fiction that's quite&nbsp;enormously overwritten, but that hints at an interesting diversion for IF. Sonam uses&nbsp;<a href="https://github.com/daterre/UnityTwine" target="_blank">UnityTwine</a> to, um, install Twine in Unity, and the result is nothing short of beautiful. It feels pretty weird to click on hyperlinks in a 3D space, but it works with the game's&nbsp;lovely low-poly background, and with the The American Dollar's soundtrack, to create an IF of great atmosphere.</p><h3><a href="http://kodained.itch.io/they-came-from-the-roof" target="_blank">They Came from the Roof by Kodained</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/lzKFCsvrQ1St.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bcXKlHVNM2eP.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="They Came From The Roof"></p><p>An eminently playable arcade-style game that mashes up Pac-Man, Mario Bros, Space Invaders, Breakout, and probably some other games I didn't recognise. And it works. Hooray! As one or two players, you're trying to protect the ghosts from Pac-Man&mdash;which essentially act as your extra lives&mdash;by shooting monsters before they climb down to their hidey-hole.</p><p>This gets more difficult in later stages, as the number and speed of enemies increases, but your main opponent is the big Breakout paddle that&nbsp;seeks out and blocks many of&nbsp;your bullets. You'll need to team up&mdash;the AI is surprisingly good in single-player&mdash;with one player distracting the evil Breakout block, giving the other's shots a chance to get through. Marvellous stuff.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9GilZXuLT0SK.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/eYZLNKvVQncF.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Psychic Cat" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p>You don't have to be psychic to work at my psychic detective agency, but it helps. You also don't have to be psychic to play the very strange Psychic Cat, the very poetic Summit, the very chickeny Super Poulet Poulet and more. Enjoy!</p><h3><a href="http://bluelemon.itch.io/trubadurr" target="_blank">Trubadurr by Thibaut Mereu and co.</a></h3><iframe width="347" height="280" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/dv7IUAyAQZo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>A Trine-like platformer&mdash;a very good-looking Trine-like platformer&mdash;made in nine months&nbsp;by students at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.isartdigital.com/fr/" target="_blank">Isart Digital Paris</a>. You're a bard, and like all bards in fantasy these days&nbsp;you're a bit of a pompous&nbsp;dick, albeit a pompus&nbsp;dick&nbsp;quite&nbsp;good at battling monsters. As&nbsp;in Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, or Overlord, you use creatures as ammo here&mdash;I just love the way to cling to your character after you've picked them up. This is accomplished, interesting, and cute.</p><h3><a href="http://www.lexaloffle.com/bbs/?tid=2521&amp;autoplay=1#pp" target="_blank">Cyclo 8 by Nusan</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bpSTb0x8Rx6_.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/JyXXbj9i0b3T.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Cyclo 8"></p><p>Well it's Trials innit, but done in the elegant, beautiful Pico-8. And it's really good! Capturing the physics and feel of that bastard series extraordinarily well. I like the strange, alien&nbsp;world you're biking around in, which is nigh impossible to pinpoint (I think it's a desert?)&nbsp;I like the addition of collectibles, which tempt you to stray from the (slightly safer) path.&nbsp;And I'm <em>still</em> trying to figure out if the rider is in the buff. It kinda looks like it, doesn't it?</p><h3><a href="http://www.puzzlescript.net/play.html?p=09b30f559f01393008af" target="_blank">The Undertaking by Anna Anthropy</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/z3xWwAyJRwGH.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TioX8Ta0ADk4.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Undertaking"></p><p>This minimalist, puzzle-less Puzzlescript game kind of got to me, and I'm not sure why. It's a short, loopy game about exploring a world, activating a thing, and then having&nbsp;the experience suddenly end just as you're getting interested in learning more. It's inscrutable: the kind of inscrutable that demands scrutiny, and offers absolutely&nbsp;nothing in return.</p><h3><a href="http://georgeroyer.itch.io/psychic-cat" target="_blank">Psychic Cat by George Royer</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9GilZXuLT0SK.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/eYZLNKvVQncF.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Psychic Cat" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p>Speaking of inscrutable, what the hell is this? It's a "journey across a blasted psychosphere", obviously, and it's one where you play as a cat lost in a neon wonderland patrolled by stompy naked green men.</p><p>So yeah, it's a load of nonsense. But it's strangely self-serious and coherent&nbsp;nonsense, and that makes it quite enjoyable&nbsp;to explore. (Via&nbsp;<a href="http://wip.warpdoor.com/2015/10/05/psychic-cat-george-royer/" target="_blank">Warp Door</a>)</p><h3><a href="http://www.lexaloffle.com/bbs/?tid=2393" target="_blank">Super Poulet Poulet by Retsyn</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uXKINeMsT8-M.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/v29MmSD4ZPCg.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Super Poulet"></p><p>Sometimes you just need a good platformer, and here is a good platformer with a fun chicken theme. You are said chicken, and you're able to take an extra hit by wearing a woolly hat, and slam into enemies for big poulet&nbsp;points. Slather your delicious frame in hot sauce&nbsp;and you can also burn enemies to a crisp. OK, so&nbsp;it's nothing revolutionary, but the controls feel nice, the sprites are cute, and the music is pretty damned catchy.</p><h3><a href="http://ifcomp.org/1368/content/Summit%20-%20PW.html" target="_blank">Summit by Phantom Williams</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rptieRymRgWJ.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QZb-irEuxcSm.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Summit"></p><p>The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ifcomp.org/ballot" target="_blank">2015 Interactive Fiction Competition</a> is ongoing at the moment, and some great stuff has been uploaded to the site. Including Summit, a Porpentiney (but not by Porpentine) game about leaving your home to ascend a tantalising mountain. I chose the life of a strange fishpersonthing, in this rambling (in a good way) philosophical&nbsp;trek featuring good words and great graphic design. (Via&nbsp;<a href="https://emshort.wordpress.com/2015/10/04/if-comp-2015-summit-phantom-williams/" target="_blank">Emily Short</a>)</p><p><a href="http://thewaether.itch.io/dsa" target="_blank" style="font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold;">D.S.A. by Kate Barrett</a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/buzzHc8sTXSL.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/E0zjwmcTgpvB.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="DSA"></p><p>D.S.A. has been in development for five years, and the result is a big, fun, enjoyably scrappy adventure game set in a bizarre world. You'll play as all three members of a separated girl group, solving puzzles by exploring and interacting with stuff, rather than trying every inventory item on every other inventory item ad nauseum. I like the&nbsp;"Low-Quality MSPaint Graphics" quite a lot; this feels like a lost game from before indie gaming exploded, something like Treasure Adventure Game or Eternal Daughter. (i.e. it's&nbsp;huge and fully featured, and rather ambitious.)</p><h3><a href="http://www.ifcomp.org/1353/content/TOMBs_of_Reschette.html" target="_blank">TOMBs of Reschette by Richard Goodness</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/8-kpCg5lTCaX.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YgN5RvoL0RME.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Tombs of Reschette"></p><p>I've been a bit lax in finding interactive fiction lately, so here's a good one from one of the genre's best writers, Richard Goodness. It's a joyously silly game set in a smallish dungeon, but one where you'll want to try every option to see what wonderfully bonkers endings you can uncover. TOMBs of Reschette is&nbsp;genuinely funny, something few games manage, and it makes great use of Twine. (Via&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/gnomeslair/status/649951782836289536" target="_blank">Gnome</a>)</p><h3><a href="http://zykoveddy.itch.io/yume-nikki-3d" target="_blank">Yume Nikki 3D by Zykov Eddy</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3SB1r4tFToaP.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NynvjFdxFjvz.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Yume Nikki 3D"></p><p>A Yume Nikki fangame from&nbsp;<a href="http://zykoveddy.itch.io/electric-highways" target="_blank">Electric Highways</a> developer Zykov Eddy, with a standalone expansion available in the same folder. What a moody world (well, <em>worlds</em>) to explore, from a novel, almost&nbsp;second-person perspective that constantly&nbsp;reminds us whose subconscious it is we're traipsing through. But mostly I like this because I like seeing pixel art in 3D games; Yume Nikki&nbsp;3D is damned good at delivering that.&nbsp;(Via&nbsp;<a href="http://wip.warpdoor.com/2015/09/30/yume-nikki-3d/" target="_blank">Warp Door</a>)</p><h3><a href="http://holly.itch.io/artners" target="_blank">Artners by Holly Gramazio</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/pWUrzJCWS7mg.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/lVxJLG-lrUNj.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Artners"></p><p>I like art creation games, not because I personally get much out of them, but because I know people are going to make some wonderful stuff. Artners gives you a subject, some time, and a set of tools with which to slop paint on your canvas;&nbsp;in a neat touch, another player can join in using the other side of the keyboard.</p><h3><a href="http://niall-moody.itch.io/mount-pleasant-drive" target="_blank">Mount Pleasant Drive by Niall Moody</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/4rggk31JSnyD.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/8SA79i2awfqO.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Mount Pleasant Drive"></p><p>I've not been to Glasgow, so for all I know it looks exactly like this strange, stationary trip through its streets, rivers, shops, parks, and other things I thought I saw in Niall Moody's "broken audiovisual radio". You move the mouse (I don't think you need to move the mouse, but it does speed things up) and the landscape contorts around you, taking you on a dreamlike/nightmarish journey around an urban place.</p><p><a href="http://strangethink.itch.io/mystery-tapes" target="_blank" style="font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold;">Mystery Tapes by Strangethink</a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/O8Z2nKnBT5uR.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/utuOs8lCBC_7.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Mystery Tapes"></p><p>You awake amid a pile of videotapes, hundreds and hundreds of tapes with names that suggest so much, and that result in a different set of coloured wavy lines when fed into one of three TV-VHS units. Experiment with different tape combos to create alternately&nbsp;weird environments, and to generate a different string of disjointed nonsense from the figure overseeing your exploration. A wonderfully tactile exhibit.</p><h3><a href="http://aaronmeyers.itch.io/michael-e-michael" target="_blank">Michael E Michael by Aaron Meyers</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/dcua-DINQwuN.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/W1kw0SBslehu.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Michael E Michael"></p><p>Square off against Michael Jackson as his arch-nemesis, Michael Jackson, in this funny two-player local multiplayer game, created for Itch.io's&nbsp;<a href="http://itch.io/jam/duplicade" target="_blank">Duplicade</a> jam. Michael can punch, Michael can of course fire lasers, and most vitally of all Michael can dance. Man, can he dance.&nbsp;Michael's dancing, as it did in real life, creates an army of mini-clones. Look at them go.</p><h3><a href="http://calavera.itch.io/fire-dance-with-me" target="_blank">Fire Dance With Me by&nbsp;Robert Gaither and&nbsp;Anja Luzega</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NpfJg2ZhSH6c.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nf-uC-gcxF-P.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fire Dance With Me" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p>Another Duplicade entry, Fire Dance With Me lets you&nbsp;"pick your favorite Twin Peaks character and Dance Dance with Leland Palmer". Obviously I picked the Log Lady's Log, and that sharp-suited guy from the Red Lodge. This is such a beautifully inappropriate rhythm game, with great sprites and an apt choice of music.</p><h3><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/the-mammoth-a-cave-painting/92537" target="_blank">The Mammoth: A Cave Painting by inbetweengames</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6K6kRktrSxuq.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/E53CRq2Yi50E.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Mammoth"></p><p>Rescue stranded mammoth-lings, and attempt to&nbsp;defend them from nasty human hunters, in this lovely-lookin' short adventure set in prehistoric times. In the vast, endless sea that is indie games in 2015,&nbsp;I'm a big fan of short, polished, pointed games like this.</p><h3><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/notice-me-detective/89207" target="_blank">Notice Me Detective by&nbsp;Valentina Chrysostomou,&nbsp;Maria Christofi,&nbsp;Kyriakos Georgiou</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/AvsKXU5LSqqB.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/XuiFnddpHiOU.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Notice Me Detective"></p><p>I missed this back in August, and that's almost as criminal as the wrong-doings you're dispatched to investigate, as the hotshot, box-headed Detective Buh. Notice Me Detective is a fun&nbsp;first-person comedy/mystery game, recalling Jazzpunk, set in a series of crime scenes that you can contaminate with your invisible hands if you desire. The controls felt a bit off, but this is a big, well-detailed world that's fun to explore, either as yourself or a handy animal partner.</p><p><a href="http://01101101.itch.io/loup" target="_blank" style="font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold;">Loup by&nbsp;01101101</a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/jqPXrwHBTJWX.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/X33Qct7Du2Hj.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Loup"></p><p>Well it's basically Tag (or Tig, if you live in a different part of the UK, where they name everything wrongly). The rules of Tag being that if you touch someone, they become 'It', and therefore temporarily infectious to children everywhere. Here, It gets to wear a cool wolf mask, while the mechanics of Tag have been expanded in a gamey way. You can now earn more points (and indeed, earn points at all) by hovering near It in a dangerous, playing-with-fire way.</p><p>I wish that It (when it's being controlled by the AI) would chase other children once in a while, but that little issue aside&nbsp;there's something wonderfully innocent about Loup.</p><h3><a href="http://eightbitskyline.itch.io/hjarta" target="_blank">Hjarta by Eight Bit Skyline</a></h3><iframe width="552" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/A_oq23_Y1HE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Eight Bit's freeware Adventure Game Studio game is a "collection of short stories", concerned with the fates of three characters: the Cosmonaut, the Prisoner, and the Martyr. I'm not sure about the art, but the animation is very nice, bringing a colourful and interesting&nbsp;science fiction world to life.</p><h3><a href="http://risingpixel.itch.io/close-remixes-of-the-third-kind" target="_blank">Close Remixes of the Third Kind by RisingPixel</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BSsT60mXTN-X.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/e_NO1pYqfGqJ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Close Remixes" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p>Remember that bit in Close Encounters when humans conversed with Johnny Alien through a series of musical notes? This is that, but with aliens that don't want to hear everything they say parroted back to them&mdash;and who can blame them? Instead, to earn the most points, you'll 'remix' their notes by repeating them in a different order, something they seem to enjoy. This really needs a proper time limit, and more scope for creativity, but what's here is fun. (Via&nbsp;<a href="http://wip.warpdoor.com/2015/09/17/close-remixes-of-the-third-kind/" target="_blank">Warp Door</a>)</p><h3><a href="http://pixelsix.itch.io/escape-2107" target="_blank">ESCAPE 2107 by Jonas Hansen</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WEvusIn5QTSD.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/pKuJOzmp94rh.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Escape 2107"></p><p>"Escape an infinite array of vectorized spaces before time runs out." Or, to put it slightly more simply, find the exit point in each grid-based first-person level to advance to the next. The time limit you have to work with is punishingly tiny, and while you annoyingly have to restart the entire game after failing too many times (argh!), you can mitigate this somewhat by collecting credits along the way. I couldn't find a solution to level 4; perhaps you'll fare better? Which is to say, of course you will.</p><h3><a href="http://kottis.itch.io/snong" target="_blank">Snong by Andreas Johansen</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/McrdHDaKQ9Wv.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6Ux5hGRQryRw.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Snong"></p><p>Andreas Johansen has mated Snake with Pong, naming the resulting ungodly abomination 'Snong'. let's just appreciate that perfectly ugly portmanteau for a moment.</p><p>Wonderful stuff. Anyway, Snong is a two-player Ponglike that lets you move around like the snake from Snake, collecting bits to increase your size and make a you a better, more efficient Pong bat. It's a fun idea, the presentation is cute, and the mechanics mash together surprisingly well.</p><p>*</p><p>Developer Stew Hogarth sadly died this week&mdash;you might remember his wonderful I Am Level from The Free Webgame Round-Up&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-free-webgame-round-up-50/" target="_blank">back in 2013</a>. Now seems like a good time to return to that accomplished pinball platformer, or to play some of his&nbsp;<a href="http://www.smilingbag.co.uk/our-games/" target="_blank">other games</a>.</p><p><a href="http://zykoveddy.itch.io/electric-highways" target="_blank" style="font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold;">Electric Highways by Zykov Eddy, Xitilon</a></p><iframe width="854" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/dszUrm4s6gE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Electric Highways is an exploration and puzzle-focused wanderer, with a first-person-but-with-pixels art style that recalls the original System Shock, Ultima Underworld, games like that. It's a fun place to explore: ten levels of moods, skies, lights and things to press, in 2072's version of the virtual reality web. There's a mite more interaction, and a lot more level design going on than in most walking simulators, so I'm going to call this genre 'Doomlike, But Without Any Guns'. More of those please, developers.</p><h3><a href="http://jfriedhoff.itch.io/slam-city-oracles" target="_blank">Slam City Oracles by&nbsp;Jane Friedhoff,&nbsp;Jenny Jiao Hsia, Scully</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rq1jFwhdRuah.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/JNb0xdxu_zDS.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Slam City Oracles"></p><p>"Slam City Oracles is a rambunctious, riot grrrl, Katamari-meets-Grand Theft Auto physics game, in which you and a friend slam onto the world around you to cause as much chaos as possible in two minutes."</p><p>I found the slamming mechanic a little inconsistent and mildly infuriating (alternatively: I'm terrible and didn't understand it), but I do love a good physics-heavy sandbox game. it's almost a shame that the camera soon zooms out to accommodate both players, as there's some cute, happy art in this game about smashing a vertical settlement to bits.</p><h3><a href="http://roguenoodle.itch.io/trappy-mine" target="_blank">Trappy Mine by rogueNoodle</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Bvjr1LPdSKyV.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xz7GPsJgQkHG.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Trappy Mine"></p><p>Explore a mine full of treasure, traps, spikes and exploding things, while trying to escape your nemesis: a vertically scrolling screen that will do you in should you find yourself&nbsp;caught in its invisible grip. This is a wonderfully polished, attractive and hectic arcade game, and one that greatly benefits from that added time pressure, which causes you to make snap decisions and horrible mistakes as you descend further&nbsp;into this deadly,&nbsp;trappy&nbsp;mine.</p><h3><a href="http://leafthief.itch.io/a-heart-between-parts" target="_blank">A Heart between Parts by leafthief</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1pQQOZ1bSJub.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VuOB_RVce5hD.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="A Heart between Parts"></p><p>You Are The Monster, again, in this gorgeous point and click, which asks you to escape from the room you've been imprisoned in. You're a scientific experiment, deemed a failure by your creator (you can see why you want to get the hell out of there). I do enjoy a good room escape, and here's one with scrumptious art and a brilliant premise.</p><h3><a href="http://kingpenguin.itch.io/ladybug" target="_blank">LadyBug by kingPenguin</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vamDRHhsQlCJ.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YsGJ6VewX5Y_.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="LadyBug"></p><p>The Fly meets Hotline Miami in this blisteringly quick, gory platformer about a half-woman, half-bug that has to kill a bunch of scientists before they can&nbsp;kill her. As is typical with these sorts of things, I'm no good at it at all, meaning LadyBug requires skill, patience, and a tolerance for repetition. I do love the pixel art&mdash;the scampering wall-running of the titular ladybug is my favourite animation of the week.</p><p><a href="http://www.draknek.org/games/puzzlescript/skipping-stones.php" target="_blank" style="font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold;">Skipping Stones To Lonely Homes&nbsp;by Alan Hazelden</a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_diN1yUDTsyV.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/w_ruIbv6iKfH.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Skipping Stones"></p><p>I wanted to include this last week, but because I'm an idiot&mdash;and because the very first screen of Alan Hazelden's latest Puzzlescript game had me stumped&mdash;it's taken me this long to get past the first island. I'm now on island 3, and it's not letting up.</p><p>Skipping Stones is a game about punting rocks across the water, rocks that will disturb lily pads you can use to cross from island to island. Lily pads follow water currents. Stones do not. There's your basis for a beautifully pure puzzler that will really&nbsp;get under your skin.</p><h3><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/meeuw/88227" target="_blank">Meeuw by Tom van den Boogaart</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/s4No9Ap8RImV.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BG-yg-IaQ7i2.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Meeuw"></p><p>Tom's follow-up to the wonderful Red Amazon is the silly, fun Meeuw, a game about a psychotic seagull. Like all seagulls, the one you play as in Meeuw can breath fire, and you'll use it here to immolate pedestrians, to ruin the scenery, and to blow up cars. This is what happens when you give seagulls chips, people.</p><h3><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/laraan/87563" target="_blank">Laraan by Flynn's Arcade</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/fFpbBNDcSryt.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Ij6rKHsf84X_.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Laraan"></p><p>I'm not entirely sure that developer Flynn's Arcade is being serious when it describes Laraan as a game that "bridges the gap between Cinema and Action/Adventure games with a completely old style of fluid, cinematic storytelling." That's because it's a nice-looking walking simulator with painfully slow movement and a lovely big jump button, although it is a particularly good one of those. The colour palette evokes the immortal&nbsp;Moebius, which is the best thing a colour palette can do. I don't like the feeling of movement much, but Laraan offers an interesting place to explore.</p><h3><a href="http://managore.itch.io/death-of-a-lich" target="_blank">Death of a Lich by Daniel Linssen</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/D8eQkzW-Riqn.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/haIFFclW6GVP.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Death of a Lich"></p><p>Linssen's latest puts you in a seemingly procedurally generated tower that sometimes generates in a way that doesn't let you proceed. Still, it's worth a restart when that happens, as this one of the more original You Are The Monster games. As the monster, you'll drop between platforms in a turn-based stylee, trying to fight or avoid archers and other soldiers even as you hunger after their yummy, yummy souls. You'll need to master your timing to dodge arrows, and gauge your jumps so that you don't fall too far and injure your lichy self.</p><h3><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/excavate/90086" target="_blank">Excavation! by Scriptwelder</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/wNxrIl5BQAeW.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PAefV84vmkSY.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Excavate"></p><p>The talented Scriptwelder leaves room escape behind for the involved Excavation!, a game about conducting an archaeological dig. After assembling a crew with hopefully varying skill sets, and after&nbsp;buying a few tools, you'll survey, test, and dig up clumps up of earth, in your search for rare finds from long ago.</p><p>At a basic level this is Minesweeper, with each of those little numbers above indicating where mines (or, in this case, treasure) might be buried. That concept's embellished with the need to&nbsp;preserve&nbsp;priceless artefacts, and to manage your funds and stamina. You only have so many days on this dig site, so you'd better make them count. This is a smart and accomplished Minesweeper re-imagining.</p><p><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/dullahan/87120" target="_blank" style="font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold;">Dullahan by like, a hundred bears</a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uQs3UOCHQQa3.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/8cPgWrqxnRk0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Dullahan"></p><p>Dullahan is a Castlevania-like that will really make you *cheeky wink* <em>lose your head</em>, which is to say that it's a GameBoy-styled platformer that allows you to plonk things like keys and bombs into your gaping neckhole. This is a neat mechanic, once you realise that Up and Attack uses keys,&nbsp;and the aesthetic&nbsp;feels quite authentic to the era, but it is stupid and&nbsp;frustrating to have to restart the entire thing upon death.</p><h3><a href="http://spotline.itch.io/telepath" target="_blank">Telepath by Spotline</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ylsUfXEqQYGG.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VD4PBNn_bdWb.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Telepath"></p><p>Wow. If you're using Chrome you'll need to download Telepath to play it, but it's worth it for the extraordinary way it uses shaders to create multiple worlds within the same space. The world's default state is blank and featureless, and to see it how others see it (or, I guess, for a window into their minds), you have to&nbsp;pass through them like a ghost. Each entity houses a world, of nature or numbers or skyscrapers, but you can only witness it while you're passing through their form. This is seriously&nbsp;smart stuff, from the developer of Ultimate Pate and The World Beneath.</p><h3><a href="http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-33/?action=preview&amp;uid=20641" target="_blank">Totem by Ian MacLarty</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gCcA_tmLS8ew.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oqvAw4MXa2ZO.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Totem"></p><p>A pretty literal interpretation of You Are The Monster, Totem is a mechanically simple game about a big rockperson that walks out of the sea. Smash all the island's inhabitants with your big rock bum to trigger an ending, while appreciating some truly bloody lovely artwork, and trying to tolerate some&nbsp;horrible bagpipey music.</p><h3><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/labyrinth-of-loneliness/88497" target="_blank">Labyrinth of Loneliness by LTPATS</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QzWLfhiwQDGU.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tYPMWrX3ZWMX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Labyrinth of Loneliness" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p>Speaking of lovely artwork, would you just&nbsp;look at Labyrinth of Loneliness. It's another Ludum Dare game, and one where you chase nicely sketched and animated people into fiery deathpits. Every time you do so, some cringeworthy text appears to insinuate some deeper meaning, but it's worth putting up with that for the fun chase sequences (the chasees look behind them sometimes, it's kind of cute), and of course for the&nbsp;striking visual style.</p><h3><a href="http://www.increpare.com/2015/08/subway-adventure/" target="_blank">Subway Adventure by Stephen Lavelle</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oaRa1wPtRzmO.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/KXWogQETIo8j.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Subway Adventure"></p><p>It's a new Stephen Lavelle/Increpare game&mdash;need we say more? OK, some more. It's a massive subway network filled with very strange stops expressed in a variety of colours and art styles, with roaming&nbsp;NPCs, and&nbsp;signs to click that may&nbsp;help you map the game world. You'll visit a range of odd, funny, glitchy stops in Subway Adventure, or you will if its juddering pedestrians will let you enter and exit your train. A lovely slice of digital tourism, in a land ripe for exploration and photo-taking.</p><p><a href="http://contest.gamedevfort.com/submission/657#.Vc-YHvlViko" target="_blank" style="font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold;">Nocturne in Yellow by TerminusEst13</a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/i4HGnrIuTTCh.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/g3sWynEpfunv.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Nocturne in Yellow"></p><p>My excitement for&nbsp;<a href="http://forum.zdoom.org/viewtopic.php?t=48994" target="_blank">Gloome</a> (a new version of id-engine modding tool GZDoom, that allows modders to release commercial games) is only slightly tempered by the fact that I have no clue how to set the damned thing up. Other people have, however, including TerminusEst13, who has made the fun Gothic shooter Nocturne In Yellow. It's a bit like Castlevania, and a lot like Heretic/Doom etc, meaning you'll stab up zombies, spiders and vampires using a gory spear, and a bow with infinite arrows. Man, I've missed the ridiculously fast movement speed of id-engine games.</p><h3><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/red-amazon/87009" target="_blank">Red Amazon by Tom van den Boogaart</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PGQ1p568TW6c.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/dmhXRNPssB1F.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Red Amazon"></p><p>This is one of the most beautiful free games I've played for ages: a clean, low-poly first-person story from one of indie gaming's best and brightest, Tom van den Boogaart. I love his stylised take on the wilderness, I love the quirky movement system (no default Unity FPS controls here, thankfully), and I love the fact that Red Amazon actually features an animated entity, unlike almost every first-person indie game I've played recently. The only thing I don't like is Boogaart's relative obscurity: he deserves to be a much bigger name.</p><h3><a href="http://ragzouken.itch.io/porthole" target="_blank">Porthole by Mark Wonnacott and Claire Morley</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HJr9PP1xTdik.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/e5A0gwGd7m4E.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Porthole"></p><p>Explore a weird world from your rotatable porthole, as you try to figure out where you are, and what the bally, slimey, clustery things in front of you could possibly be. “Follow the compass,” proclaims the Itch.io page, and “seek the depths”. That compass looks&nbsp;a bit like a Stargate&nbsp;chevron.</p><h3><a href="http://leafthief.itch.io/onemore-night" target="_blank">One More Night by Stefan Srb and Craig Barnes</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/R6n_LkDhR5W3.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/K7SS-4jqquKl.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="One More Night"></p><p>A short choose-your-own-adventure made for the&nbsp;<a href="http://jams.gamejolt.io/gbjam4" target="_blank">GameBoy jam</a> (and now I'm imagining what GameBoy jam would look and taste like – probably Greengage). The pixel art is scrumptious, the sound is just discordant and shrill enough to convince, and the story is open-ended enough to make you want to replay immediately. “Three friends embark on a two-day camping trip before their last year of school begins. A trip they never want to end.” A cute, sweet, very green game.</p><h3><a href="http://www.lexaloffle.com/bbs/?tid=2274" target="_blank">Dusk Child by Sophie Houlden</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BOkkIc6SQiSQ.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uHcI-PD2C76r.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Dusk Child"></p><p>A wonderful puzzle-platformer made using Lexaloffle's increasingly impressive&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lexaloffle.com/pico-8.php" target="_blank">Pico-8</a>. Fathom your way around a mysterious location, examining objects with the Z button and ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the gorgeous pixel art with your mouth. One of the best uses of Pico-8 yet&mdash;I'm also greatly looking forward to Terry Cavanagh's&nbsp;<a href="http://distractionware.com/blog/2015/08/coming-soon-2/" target="_blank">first-person shooter</a> made for the console.</p><p><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/graynold-runner/66098" style="font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold;">graynold runner by Jake Clover</a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/jB_HJHuuS-io.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oRaYvpTgJf98.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Graynold Runner" style="width: 668px;"></p><p>A sidescrolling shmup that prioritises atmosphere over score-chasing, featuring music by Beeswing's Jack King-Spooner. I love Jake Clover's sprites, the strange alien universe that all his games seem to take place in. graynold runner gives you two ships, then when they're on fire and you jettison to safety, it gives you two little astronauts, who can hijack passing vehicles. A serene little anti-shoot-'em-up (maybe the world's first?)</p><h3><a href="http://polclarissou.itch.io/wish-fishing">Wish Fishing by Pol Clarissou</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ebGWzI_RQP6_.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EoENsoQdnh71.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Wish Fishing" style="width: 668px;"></p><p>A digital wishing well that lets you cast a word, a phrase, a string of nonsense into space. That's part of it: the fun part is looking at what other people have chucked out before you. The terms they dared scrawl on the game's galactic messageboard, the words they typed when they thought nobody else was looking. When you're done, Wish Fishing prescribes you a sort of horoscope, which you can try to decipher at the linked <a href="http://polclarissou.com/wishfishing/">glossary page</a>.</p><h3><a href="http://noxlof.itch.io/unterwelt">UNTERwELT by Noxlof</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/K1FCUsr7RWqv.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uF-5yiAnl41Z.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="UNTERWeLT" style="width: 668px;"></p><p>This short, stylish story was made for the <a href="http://itch.io/jam/a-game-by-its-cover-2015">A Game By Its Cover jam</a>, in which developers made titles based on fake cartridge art. The rushed development period has resulted in plenty of spelling errors and straightforward dialogue that kinda undermines the experience, but you can't fault the lovely pixel art and and palpable atmosphere in UNTERwELT.</p><h3><a href="http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=52502.0">The Jimi Hendrix Case by Gurok</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9aBteezdSL6-.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cW7dtDgHhCQA.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Jimi Hendrix Case" style="width: 668px;"></p><p>“In a world where everyone is Jimi Hendrix, only Jimi Hendrix can solve the murder and find out who killed Jimi Hendrix.” So begins a point-and-click adventure with gorgeous pixel art and funny dialogue, where you actually get to use your gun. I've loved that in adventure games since Blade Runner, and despite (or perhaps because of) its short length, The Jimi Hendrix Case is one of the few to make full use of its shooting system. (Via <a href="http://wip.warpdoor.com/2015/08/11/the-jimi-hendrix-case-gurok/">Warp Door</a>)</p><h3><a href="http://hedgehog.exposed/">Sonic Dreams Collection by Arcane Kids</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_ohLsWirSs2d.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Mq35fK0raCOT.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Sonic Dreams Collection" style="width: 668px;"></p><p>Zineth/Bubsy 3D/Room of 1000 Snakes developers Arcane Kids are back with another brilliant piece of freeware, this one pretending to be a collection of lost Sonic demos and prototypes from the mid to late '90s. They've got the Dreamcast look down pat by now, and if it weren't for the sight of Sonic and pals engaging in an orgy in Sonic Movie Maker, this could be pretty convincing. There are four little games included here: Make My Sonic, Eggman Origin, Sonic Movie Maker, and My Roommate Sonic, AKA stretch a Sonic character, try to play a non-functioning MMO, film seedy Sonic shenanigans with a movie camera, and romance Sonic the Hedgehog in VR. A disturbing and hilarious game about fandom, from some of the best comedians in the business.</p><p><a href="http://gamejolt.com/games/banned-memories-yamanashi/78205" style="font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold;">Banned Memories: Yamanashi by GamingEngineer</a></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WD8y_TAdSEmx.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mYQ8Cwpc4WOf.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Banned Memories" style="width: 668px;"></p><p>Banned Memories turns the restrictions of PS1 hardware into a stylistic choice, and why not? Restrictions are great, giving a project a framework to rail against, or to comfortably fit within as you see fit. While the game seems to relish in the low-poly models and texture warping of the early 32-bit days, developer GamingEngineer <em>is</em> pushing against the restrictions of Game Maker: Studio, making probably the most impressive 3D game I've seen with it yet.</p><p>Engine aside, this is an atmospheric horror game that stacks up nicely against the likes of Silent Hill and Overblood, even if it's obviously several shades behind those games on account of it being made by one person, rather than a whole team of seasoned professionals. This is an early look at the game, containing a part of a haunted school to explore, and I'm really digging what I've played of it so far. (Via <a href="http://indiegames.com/2015/08/face_your_dark_past_and_some_e.html">IndieGames</a>)</p><h3><a href="http://saintheiser.itch.io/zzzz-zzzz-zzzz">Zzzz-Zzzz-Zzzz by SaintHeiser</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/B2ruPHlNSl-n.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xxGbsrnu04sE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="ZzzzZzzzZzzz" style="width: 668px;"></p><p>The remarkable Zzzz-Zzzz-Zzzz is set in a dream world, and fittingly its rules have no consistency from one screen to the next. It's called that not only because you're asleep, but because you'll be pressing Z a lot. Z to go through a door. Z to go to sleep. Z to do an interaction, though you're never quite sure what that interaction will be. Because of this, because each new screen feels strange and unfamiliar, Zzzz-Zzzz-Zzzz is one of the few games to really get what dreams are about. It's a delightful, constantly surprising thing&mdash;fans of Fez are going to fall in love with it, I reckon.</p><h3><a href="http://newmarksoftware.itch.io/liberation-my-love">Liberation, My Love by Newmark Software</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/jTsRPMcAToiP.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/a0ubaa-Gmp2X.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Liberation My Love" style="width: 668px;"></p><p>A simple platformer embellished with a pleasant art style and premise, about a keytar-wielding robot thing that shoots colours at baddies. (He also has a shield, and a nifty lateral dash move.) The basic jumping and spike-avoiding could feel slicker, but Liberation, My Love's unique setting and look go a long way.</p><h3><a href="http://outofsight.itch.io/out-of-sight">Out of Sight by Isart Digital students</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/SAvM8tuISnas.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TJNAaFLEaNjo.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Out Of Sight" style="width: 668px;"></p><p>It's a bit like Remember Me, this, specifically those bits in Remember Me where you have to reprogram people's memories (because you're a jerk). You're a woman with dymnesia trying to recover lost memories with the aid of a psychiatrist here, something you achieve by pivoting from one interactible object to the next, in a series of frozen moments from your past. You can examine each object for a bit of background detail, or combine the various sights and smells and sounds and other senses to bring the central memory to life. Writing and UI-wise, this is slightly clumsy, but I think the premise is a strong one. It's a bold and stylistically impressive game too.</p><h3><a href="http://martincohen.itch.io/disposable">Disposable by Martin Cohen</a></h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/blJwUdZmQtGc.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/y4boRtLiQ-F0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Disposable" style="width: 668px;"></p><p>There's not much to Disposable yet, but I did enjoy the look of the world, and the dashy jumping ability I never managed to master. As your little robot explores a facility, looking for terminals to hack in order to open a central door, you'll occasionally need to rely on a tricksy dash-jump-thing that hurtles you through the air at a fixed distance. It's a fun, challenging few minutes of platforming, that Martin Cohen will hopefully return to at a later date.</p> Commentator Capitalist on the state of professional Dota 2http://www.pcgamer.com/commentator-capitalist-on-the-state-of-professional-dota-2/Improving analytics, the importance of humour and looking forward to the return of the midlaner.Sat, 21 Nov 2015 01:55:20 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/commentator-capitalist-on-the-state-of-professional-dota-2/Dota 2esportsMOBAPro <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iQaFxMqQSjWo.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BV41p4ANwgBD.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Ti5 Day3 Antimage"></p><p> On the penultimate day of the Frankfurt Major I sat down with caster Austin ‘Capitalist’ Walsh to talk about the state of Dota 2 casting and analysis, his own perspective on his work, and the stage of the game in general. This has felt like a really strong tournament and a healthy period in general for the game&mdash;but there’s always more that can be done.</p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Austin 'Capitalist' Walsh</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/C_XLmZ1sSW66.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3fRijBX2BZKu.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Capitalist"> </p> <p> Capitalist works for JoinDOTA as a commentator and is known for his double act with frequent co-caster Blitz, his hair, his energy levels, and his 6K MMR. You can arrange those things in any order of priority you choose. </p> </div><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> How have you found this event, compared to TI?</p><p> <strong>Capitalist:</strong> Compared to TI there’s a bit less hype, because there’s not as many people coming to the event. Obviously Saturday will be packed, or that’s what I anticipate anyway. Because it’s a very long, drawn-out event and it’s not the biggest event of the year it’s hard for people to come in on weekdays and stuff like that. It hasn’t been as hype, but I think it’s still been really enjoyable. I’m looking forward to having three of these Majors a year because I think it gives me a lot more experience&mdash;it gives everyone a lot more experience. Just from a casting perspective it’s always good to do LAN events, but being able to work on the panel has been a lot of growth for me, and for everyone.</p><p> I think panel is the Dota scene’s most lacking point right now. We’re not very good at panel compared to other e-sports or other sports in general, and I think that’s something that the Majors will definitely help out on. It’s a very small number of events that get this many panels with this many people. MLG, right, we did a panel with three people&mdash;there’s not much to go on, I’d say it’s not that good of an experience compared to a premier tournament like ESL One New York or the Majors.</p><p> <strong>PCG: </strong>Specifically then, what does that experience translate to in terms of your casting?</p><p> <strong>Capitalist: </strong>I think I’ve done a lot more research because I was out of my element when it came to the analyst desk. I did a lot more research going into it. I usually do a lot of research, but this time I was looking for different things. I was looking for anecdotes about the players. I was talking to the players more about how they felt they were going to do, etc. More of the time when I talked to them before it’d be about strategy, how they felt the patch was, stuff like that. General game knowledge that I thought was more applicable. But panel work is like ‘who works in this matchup against this matchup’, where in casting you don’t care so much necessarily.</p><p> <strong>PCG: </strong>It’s already happening.</p><p> <strong>Capitalist:</strong> Yeah. The game has started, you don’t have to talk about it during the draft, you cover the action as-is.</p><p> <strong>PCG: </strong>The Dota scene feels pretty analytical, even in e-sports where most people are pretty analytical. Do you think that’s changing? Is it becoming more about stories and anecdotes, as you say?</p><p> <strong>Capitalist: </strong>I think that’s where we should be going. I think that we are too analytical. Obviously, the hardcore nerds that are going to show up on Reddit&mdash;they’re always going to be like, ‘we want more analytics, we want our analysts to be able to predict every single draft pick that comes up’ but honestly it doesn’t make for a very entertaining stream. It’s not very good entertainment value. I think that the TI panel was a bit lacklustre in that regard: they put four intensive analysts on a panel and there wasn’t that much to go on.</p><p> I mean, Redeye&hellip; do you remember 7ckngmad waving the white flag to Pyrion? That was the only schtick that came from it. Redeye was leaning into them and the analysts didn’t know how to react.</p><p> <strong>PCG: </strong>Well, Paul can be brutal.</p><p> <strong>Capitalist:</strong> Paul can be brutal, right, but the banter is supposed to be what creates entertainment value. That’s an easy and cheap way to do so and the analysts weren’t prepared for it. I think that the people like me and say, Purge, we’re decently good at analytics and we need to get better in that regard and still provide energy and banter and that stuff. I need to get better at that. While people like Winter who are incredibly good at analytics need to get better at bringing more energy and more banter to a desk. I think both sides need to come together and be better.</p><blockquote>We’re not really good enough to do better, yet, so let’s find another way.</blockquote><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> Both Valve and a whole bunch of other organisations have tried different things to make Dota accessible. This is the least accessible game on the planet. It doesn’t get any less accessible than Dota. I think it was 2GD that said that humour was ultimately the way to achieve that. Would you agree with that?</p><p> <strong>Capitalist:</strong> I would agree with that. The Smash community is amazing, right? A lot of it is because they have these huge personalities and they bring a lot of personality to those casts. Even in an intense match they have these moments&hellip; “WOMBO COMBO, HAPPY FEET”&mdash;that shows up everywhere, right? Those kinds of moments that the fighting game community creates, they’re what bring in the average viewer. The game is somewhat easier to follow&mdash;certainly easier than Dota&mdash;but I also think that they do that much better than the Dota community does.</p><p> I’d phrase it differently: humour is the easiest, cheapest way to get somebody interested in Dota.</p><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> But cheap’s not necessarily bad, right?</p><p> <strong>Capitalist: </strong>Not at all, not at all. I was talking about this earlier. There was a Mineski vs. OG game, right? Everybody on the panel had OG, including myself, but I changed my prediction to Mineski because I felt it was an easy and cheap way to create a different dynamic on the desk. One person opposing three other people’s thoughts. It’s not that you can’t create interesting dialogue with everybody choosing the same thing, but that’s why I mean ‘easy and cheap’. We’re not really good enough to do better, yet, so let’s find another way.</p><p> <strong>PCG: </strong>Maybe ‘efficient’ is another way of saying ‘cheap’.</p><p> <strong>Capitalist: </strong>Yeah, true.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/M7A2kKBIScSo.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TlQZDvoBPNNK.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Dota 2 Puck"></p><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> But one of the things that’s really positive about the Dota scene at the moment is how international it is. Mineski is a good example, a story that writes itself because nobody expected them to do quite so well. Do you think it’ll stay that way? Is Dota trending towards one-region dominance, more of a mono-narrative like League? I like this plurality at the moment&mdash;it feels really strong.</p><p> <strong>Capitalist:</strong> I like it too. The one thing that’s concerning right now is that the Chinese scene has been falling off so much and I don’t know if any of the weaker regions are going to rise up. I’m not sure if North America tier two and three is going to get good enough, I’m not sure if South America and Southeast Asia are going to be good enough to stay in the international scene. That’s concerning for me, because it started with ‘The International’&mdash;it’s supposed to be every country, that’s the original idea. I do think that creates the most interesting dialogues and it gives us the widest viewerbase. It’s fun that way. It’s a concern to me that China has been suffering. But I think it’ll keep a pretty strong variance.</p><p> I think that China is going to realise that getting new players is going to be important. They can’t just have the old dogs constantly. I think that shows in teams like CDEC, very clearly. EHOME is a great example of relatively newer players, and the strength of them over the more established players.</p><p> <strong>PCG: </strong>Do you think there’s anything structural that needs to change about the scene more broadly? The Majors are one step towards offering bigger payouts more regularly to the top teams, but Dota’s not&hellip; Valve are the opposite of Riot in a whole bunch of ways and offering salaries to players seems totally off the table. Would the scene benefit from that kind of stability?</p><blockquote>The mid matchup is supposed to be the most mechanically skilled players facing off one-on-one against each other.</blockquote><p> <strong>Capitalist:</strong> No&hellip; I’ve had some minor complaints about the way that Valve run things in the Dota scene, but I think they recognise that TI was essentially too big of a tournament, in a way, that it was taking up too much. They also saw the success of the CS:GO Majors. Implementing the Majors into the Dota scene was the best thing they could have done. It’s the best way to feel Valve’s impact. I don’t think we should have a Riot system where Riot is controlling everything, and every broadcast is Riot-sponsored&hellip; I don’t think we should go that route. I just want to let this year play out, and see how the Majors go, before I’d suggest anything else.</p><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> From my perspective, this feels like a really good patch for spectators. Do you agree, and which way would you like to see the meta shift?</p><p> <strong>Capitalist:</strong> Okay, one really good thing about this patch is the variety in heroes. We have a pretty good variety in the pool, there’s not too many examples of really overpowered heroes. Doom is the best example of an OP hero right now, and teams will leave him out of the pool entirely sometimes. In that case, balance wise, the game is in a really great place. I do think that there are certain things that 6.86 might be able to bring in, that would make the game a bit more interesting&mdash;for example, the mid matchup. The mid matchup is supposed to be the most mechanically skilled players facing off one-on-one against each other. That’s no longer the case. It’s about stacking, dual-laning, rotations etc.</p><p> For example, the Puck-Queen of Pain matchups that we used to see in older patches, they were amazingly fun to watch. We don’t see that anymore, because the mid matchup is no longer one on one. It’s no longer as gank-heavy. Your midlaner is often times your carry, so you can’t afford to have someone like Puck who doesn’t scale well. If they do try to make the midlane experience a bit more about that kind of matchup, that’d be more interesting&mdash;but that’s a very finicky system to go to, it’s hard to say how implementing stronger midlane play would affect other parts of the game. Are supports going to be garbage-tier again, would they only buy wards&mdash;that kind of thing. You never know what’s going to happen.</p><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> Thanks for your time!</p><hr><p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> The strange, funny, and cool stuff found in Fallout 4 so farhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-strange-funny-and-cool-stuff-found-in-fallout-4-so-far/ Radroaches fight back, Preston Garvey wants your soul,Dogmeat is dumb, and more.Sat, 21 Nov 2015 01:28:32 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-strange-funny-and-cool-stuff-found-in-fallout-4-so-far/Fallout 4RPG <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rXb9gCh3QL6Z.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9Yqx3Kvmy3LJ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 4"></p><p> We’re through our first week and a half&nbsp;of&nbsp; <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4/">Fallout 4</a> and the strangest things to happen so far aren’t because of the inherent absurdity of the Bostonian wasteland. As is the tradition with Bethesda’s open worlds and internet culture, the best of Fallout 4 is emerging from the creative ways in which people tinker with the game and the commotion around such a big release, rather than the game itself. Let’s catch up with what’s what in the wasteland so far.</p><h4><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgD_kwK5jxU">Radroaches have had enough</a> </h4><p> There are a bunch of Jurassic Park jokes here that I really don’t have the energy to touch. Point is, radroaches are smarting up and using garbage bins as armor. I encountered this myself and I’ve heard about it happening to a lot of people in the same spot near the beginning of the game. Makes me wonder if it’s an intentional bit by Bethesda to get some early laughs going. Or maybe the code is sentient and sick of getting smooshed. Either way, it’s a fun example of the AI and physics accidentally working in tandem to produce quality Internet Content.</p><h4><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0AgPCYhWbk&amp;feature=youtu.be">Melon Symphony</a></h4><p> Creativity with console commands is where Bethesda’s games find their real longevity. There’s no shortage of amusing things you can do. For instance, you can spawn a hell of a lot of melons and set it to classical music. This video is exactly that, and it’s pretty glorious. It’s also arguable that the adult entertainment site mentioned later in the roundup&nbsp;may have had a dip in traffic not just because Fallout 4 came out, but because videos like this have encroached on their search engine optimization.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/I0AgPCYhWbk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><h4><a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/fo4/comments/3sm948/my_brother_thinks_theres_something_wrong_with_his/">Someone erased years of trust with the Pip-Boy app</a></h4><p> Over on Reddit, someone found out an insidious way to mess with their brother via the Pip-Boy app. Since you just need to be on the same network and enable the option in game for the application to work, it seems he’s been repeatedly changing his brother’s equipped clothes. I’m super into the idea, just a little worried about the guy: “I feel like a god. He is also a little bit high and thinks he is going insane.” I highly recommend everyone try this with their loved ones immediately.</p><h4><a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/fo4/comments/3tcaes/my_secret_corn_stash_may_look_a_bit_questionable/" target="_blank">A player is growing 'corn' in their garage</a></h4><p> Nothing to see here, Mister Garvey.</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="NeatFreeBats (gfyCat video) " data-id="NeatFreeBats" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><h4><a href="http://twinfinite.net/2015/11/fallout-4s-vault-tec-phone-number-actually-works/" target="_blank">You can actually call Vault-Tec</a></h4><p> Turns out the number listed on a calendar in the opening sequence of the game actually rings up Vault-Tec, or at least a prerecorded message. It's a fun little easter egg that has no reason to exist, but does, and shows the&nbsp;depths to which Bethesda goes when conisdering the finer details. One detail they probably didn't consider is that if you dial 1-800 instead of 1-888, you ring up one of America's hottest talk lines.&nbsp;</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/8g4jcXfLQ9al.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/c0uV93qSayj3.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Source: Twinfinite.net" class=""> <figcaption>Source:&nbsp;<a href="http://twinfinite.net/2015/11/fallout-4s-vault-tec-phone-number-actually-works/" target="_blank">Twinfinite.net</a></figcaption></figure><h4><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-1000-deathclaws-versus-100-brotherhood-of-steel-soldiers/" target="_blank">A Deathclaw horde versus a Brotherhood of Steel army</a></h4><p> Again, thank goodness for console commands. A YouTuber has been doing what we all expected, and has been spawning huge armies of enemies to fight one another. My favorite so far is Deathclaws versus Brotherhood of Steel, because he doesn't spawn them all at once in an open arena, but places the two groups in a choke point, and continually creates more Deathclaws in new locations to give the battle a bit more drama. Here's&nbsp; <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-create-epic-ai-battles-in-fallout-4/">how to make massive Fallout 4 battles of your own</a>.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ofuW7d3fyOc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><h4><a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/fo4/comments/3sowst/deathclaw_homerun/">‘Melee builds aren’t viable.’</a></h4><p> Counterpoint: physics.&nbsp;</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="ParallelForcefulLabradorretriever (gfyCat video) " data-id="ParallelForcefulLabradorretriever" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><h4><a href="http://venturebeat.com/2015/11/13/pornhubs-traffic-dipped-significantly-the-day-fallout-4-came-out/">Adult entertainment websites weren't feeling it</a> </h4><p> Fact: naked people doing naked people things are significantly less interesting than planting a few rows of corn in virtual irradiated soil. Okay, so correlation does not equal causation, but VentureBeat talked to some folks at a prominent adult entertainment website, and they claim that traffic dipped by 10 percent on release day “among gamers” (however that stat is determined).</p><h4><a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/fo4/comments/3tft2w/help_being_hunted_down_by_hostile_exfollowers/" target="_blank">It Follows</a></h4><p> "Every so often I'll be sneaking and notice that the status says [CAUTION] but nobody is visible."&nbsp;After clearing out an area for the Minutemen, a player accidentally shot an ally and set Preston Garvey on a creepy, implacable murder quest. Now everywhere they go, Preston Garvey makes a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkZYbOH0ujw" target="_blank">preternatural beeline</a> towards them no matter where they're at. "He's found me near the castle, near the Boston Commons, and I even saw his irradiated outline charging me from across The Glowing Sea." It's a&nbsp;horrifying and beautiful quirk that feels at home in Bethesda's open worlds. We wish them luck, not that there's any real escape from the inevitable.</p><h4><a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/fo4/comments/3tg4s4/hey_sturges_thanks_forhelping_out_i_guess/" target="_blank">What a tool</a></h4><p> Doing a good job there, buddy. Keep it up.</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="WindyDirectAndeancondor (gfyCat video) " data-id="WindyDirectAndeancondor" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><h4><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpsqqL4tzbM&amp;feature=youtu.be" target="_blank">Headshots can have interesting effects</a></h4><p> Shoot me once, shame on me. Shoot me twice...</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xpsqqL4tzbM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><h4><a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/fo4/comments/3snnfc/why_it_takes_me_months_to_finish_the_main/">A compelling argument for never finishing the game</a></h4><p> At least the writers still get a credit.</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="UnawareDistantDairycow (gfyCat video) " data-id="UnawareDistantDairycow" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><h4><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-player-has-head-snatched-away-by-deathclaw-but-lives-on/" target="_blank">Don't lose your head, unless you do</a></h4><p> I refuse to call this a glitch. This is a feature. A player got into a minor tussle with a Deathclaw, and after a few might swipes of those mitts, the player's head came off. Typically, this results in a slow motion, ragdoll fall to the ground, followed by a quick load of your last save. This time, the player stayed alive, decapitated. Horrifying, yeah? Even better is that the permanent head loss meant his perception skill was entirely drained, but enemies couldn't hit him in the head, considering there no was no head to hit. We need mods, stat. Horse-riding mod and a few ghoulish capes, maybe a pumpkin helmet? Please.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yFBvunP4bps" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><h4><a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/339/?" target="_blank">Someone modded their dog into Fallout 4</a></h4><p> Dogmeat may not have been our <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-vs-mgs-5-which-has-the-best-dog/">PC Gamer Virtual Kennel Club winner</a>, but the results might have been different if I could mod my own dog into the game. One such Fallout player&nbsp;<a href="http://kotaku.com/fallout-4-fan-mods-their-actual-dog-into-the-game-1742456485" target="_blank">did just that</a>, using photos of their blue cattle pup (who is just the cutest) to reskin Dogmeat into something a bit more personal. This entry, while not funny, deserves inclusion because the dog is cute, and we always have time for cute dogs.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tnwlOvkJQ_K2.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/yehRIRCFryBp.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="1517710643497706895"></p><h4><a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/fo4/comments/3sxo1q/just_gotta_deactivate_these_traps/" target="_blank">But Dogmeat is still dumb...</a></h4><p> To be fair, all those laser traps would probably grab the attention of any dog. &nbsp;</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="UniformRealImperialeagle (gfyCat video) " data-id="UniformRealImperialeagle" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><h4><a href="https://twitter.com/kadefromonline/status/666357930573340672" target="_blank">For crying out loud, Dogmeat</a></h4><blockquote class="twitter-video" lang="en"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr"> bethesda.mp4 <a href="https://t.co/TNqrcrVRJK">pic.twitter.com/TNqrcrVRJK</a> </p><p> &mdash; Kind Boy (@kadefromonline) <a href="https://twitter.com/kadefromonline/status/666357930573340672">November 16, 2015</a> </p></blockquote><hr> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-cards="hidden" lang="en"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr"> bethesda.mp4 <a href="https://t.co/TNqrcrVRJK">pic.twitter.com/TNqrcrVRJK</a> </p><p> &mdash; Kind Boy (@kadefromonline) <a href="https://twitter.com/kadefromonline/status/666357930573340672">November 16, 2015</a> </p></blockquote> The week's highs and lows in PC gaminghttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-weeks-highs-and-lows-in-pc-gaming_nov20_2015/Centuries after mankind’s extinction, on a Friday, a glass bottle washes up on a beach labelled ‘PCG Hot Takes’.Sat, 21 Nov 2015 01:05:13 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-weeks-highs-and-lows-in-pc-gaming_nov20_2015/highs and lows <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3TgFf11vSwKO.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NKgiU3GzPdT8.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 4 dialog mod"></p><p> <strong>THE HIGHS</strong></p><p> <strong>Samuel Roberts: Fallout 4: king of games on the computer</strong><strong><br> </strong></p><p> Last Friday I took the day off at the last second with the intention of knocking my way through Fallout 4. Instead, I spent 16 hours slowly working my way through many of <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/side-ops-in-metal-gear-solid-5/">MGSV’s Side Ops</a> (while drinking a litre of port). It was&nbsp;way more rad than that sounds. Anyway, this week I finally cracked into Fallout 4 properly, and I think it’s absurdly good. Better than I deserve, in fact. I’ve always been a bigger fan of 3D Fallouts over Elder Scrolls&mdash;generally I engage with storytelling that’s about real humans rather than wizards and stuff. Not that Skyrim doesn’t have great characters and interesting stories, too, but there’s something about picking through the remains of civilisation after a nuclear attack that’s uniquely tense and thrilling.</p><p> The sense of wonder I get from finding a new town in Skyrim is an entirely different feeling in Fallout&mdash;something more powerful, that these places have been lived in, and that nothing will be the same as it was. It’s also the reason my favourite episode of The Walking Dead is still the Darabont-directed pilot, Days Gone Bye, where Rick Grimes escapes the hospital and heads back into the walker-filled world after being in a coma for months. He’s silent for so much of that 90 minutes: he’s just navigating through empty landscapes with no signs of human life, and all of the storytelling comes from set design, cinematography and art direction.&nbsp;3D Fallout achieves the same thing, but it’s you playing that role, and the order that you uncover each fragment of the world is in your hands. And in Fallout 4, that world has never looked better. Truly, it’s the king of games, and I’m delighted to be playing a new Bethesda RPG again. It would be lovely if they got Obsidian working on a follow-up so I won’t have to wait seven or eight years for the next one.&nbsp;</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hF7hy6chQMe4.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TMnA4US9HbWM.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="80 Days Slide"></p><p> <strong>Phil Savage: Taking time for an adventure</strong></p><p> I've been playing 80 Days over my last few lunch breaks, in response to <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/80-days-review/">Andy's recommendation</a>. After my first playthrough, I felt somewhat unsatisfied. It's a quality production, but my journey seemed uneventfully efficient. I circumnavigated the world in 67 days&mdash;only experiencing one near-death experience. In my accidental competence, I was collecting the first half of each story, but not seeing the full breadth of any one experience.</p><p> My second journey couldn't be&nbsp;more different. I'm on day 79, and have only just reached San Francisco. I've been kidnapped, teleported, and embroiled in a mystery or two. Games tend to reward you for being good at their central challenge, but in 80 Days, that efficiency detracts from the actual joy of playing. Go into it understanding that, and being prepared to stall Fogg's mission in search of a good story, and you'll be well rewarded.</p><p> <strong>Chris Livingston: Assassin’s cutscene</strong></p><p> I've been playing Assassin's Creed: Syndicate (the review will be up next week). It covers a lot of familiar ground, as you'd expect, along with some new toys and activities, such as a grappling hook/zipline and the ability to hijack stagecoaches and speed through the streets knocking over lampposts and pedestrians, for a little old-timey GTA flavor.</p><p> I've also been pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy being&nbsp;both of the protagonists. You play as a brother and sister, Evie and Jacob Frye, and can switch between them whenever you're exploring the city. My favorite parts, though, are when they're together&mdash;and this feels strange to say&mdash;in a cutscene. Both parts are well written and performed. It's not difficult to write a wiseass character, but in the case of Jacob he's also genuinely funny and likeable. Evie is a bit more serious, and more interested in serious business, but still has her moments of levity. They're fun, they play well off each other, and I find myself wishing their conversations were longer. It's always a little disappointing when a scene ends and I have to pick just one to use on the next mission.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VbdV3XtVTtq2.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uHX07hvUqAbC.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Battlefront Walker Slide"></p><p> <strong>Andy Kelly: Special effects</strong></p><p> I <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/star-wars-battlefront-review/">reviewed</a> Star Wars Battlefront this week. It’s not a great shooter, but as a recreation of the original trilogy, it’s pretty much perfect. I particularly love how the artists resisted the urge to mess with or modernise Industrial Light &amp; Magic’s iconic designs. The animation of the Imperial walkers has that clunky stop-motion look they had in Empire; Admiral Ackbar’s flappy mouth looks just like the rubber puppet from Jedi; computer interfaces have the <a href="http://futureinterface.tumblr.com/post/72025769487/star-wars-a-new-hope-1977">retro look</a> of A New Hope.</p><p> The people who did the effects for those films were geniuses, and it would have been half the series it was without them. Here’s a <a href="https://youtu.be/VsgTd-1ZYuw">great 1980 documentary</a>, hosted by a youthful Mark Hamill, about the making of Empire’s FX. There’s some great behind the scenes footage in there. It’s amazing how much of the Battle of Hoth was created in what looks like a tiny, dark shed. Battlefront is, flaws and all, a wonderful tribute to those guys.</p><p> The only thing that doesn’t quite fit for me are the Halo-esque bubble shields, but I’ll let them away with that in light of how authentic everything else is. I don’t really feel the urge to return to Battlefront now that my review is done, which is a shame, but I have massive respect for the artists at DICE for their work on it.</p><p> <strong>Tom Marks: Re-exploring Hearthstone</strong></p><p> I was <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstones-league-of-explorers-is-indiana-jones-remade-with-a-posh-murloc/">quite skeptical</a> about&nbsp;whether or not Hearthstone’s League of Explorers adventure was what the game actually needed right now, but having played the first two wings I think Blizzard has done&nbsp;an amazing job. The art, audio design, and overall tone of the set is the best work the&nbsp;Hearthstone team has done. And the bosses, while comparably much easier than previous adventures, are unique and fun to play against.</p><p> But it isn’t just the production quality of the adventure I am impressed with, I think the new cards (and particularly the Discover mechanic) really help the health of the game. For the first time in a few months, my interest in playing is back. I even&nbsp;want to play on the ranked ladder again. We’ll see if that holds up in three weeks when all of the cards are out, or a few weeks after the meta settles down, but right now I am loving all the new decks that are emerging. These cards seem genuinely fun to play with and against&mdash;check out&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-10-best-hearthstone-cards-from-the-league-of-explorers/">some of the best</a> here.</p><p> <strong>Tyler Wilde: Finding the back of the net</strong></p><p> I played a bit of Rocket League this morning (always good way to start the day) and I was proud of some good performances. A few of my goals were a little&nbsp;ugly, though, which can be a bit embarrassing when the replay goes off and it's clear that you bumbled the ball into the net. I’m looking dominant at the start of this one, but it turns into a total farce by the end. As long as it goes in, right?</p><iframe src="http://gfycat.com/ifr/HospitableNervousBoto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="582" height="318" style="-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;-webkit-transform: scale(1);"></iframe><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rJe2UM_dSFe4.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mafR6iXWWM_2.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Batman Arkham Knight"></p><p><strong>THE LOWS</strong></p><p><strong>Samuel Roberts: Broken bat</strong></p><p>So Batman won’t be getting SLI support&mdash;a shame for those waiting for the feature, certainly, but honestly not too high on my own list of wants for that game. I still want them to fix the stuttering in Batman. More than that, though, I want them to elaborate on whether they can eliminate the stuttering in Arkham Knight. What are Rocksteady’s post-release plans for kicking it into shape? That’s not entirely clear, yet. Is the aim to keep optimising it, or now that it’s out there and people still aren’t happy, just to walk away and leave it as is? </p><p>I might be losing it, here, but I’m still vaguely optimistic about getting the definitive version of Batman on PC. I’d just like to know exactly what happens next with the PC version after two weeks of no updates.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Chris Livingston: Interrupting menu</strong></p><p>One thing that's bugging me about Assassin's Creed: Syndicate is how often it interrupts me. For instance, scattered around the city are various missions you perform to undermine the Blighter Gang's operations. Free their child workers, take down their strongholds, things like that. When you've freed the last kid, or killed the last goon, your mission is over. Rather than just saying Mission Complete, it starts a little cutscene. Then it takes you to a menu screen. Then it shows you the area on the map you've liberated.</p><p>Meanwhile, yes, my mission is done but I wasn't! Right next to that last dude I stabbed to death on the third floor of the building were a couple chests I was going to loot. Well, once I've escaped the network of menu screens shoved in my face, the game has repositioned me back downstairs and outside, so I have to go back into whatever it building I was in and climb however many floors it was just to find that crate again, or find that last dead guy I was about to loot before the mission ended. I think it's a Ubisoft thing: when you liberate a stronghold in Far Cry 4 it fades to a little cutscene, too, but I don't remember it physically moving you from where you were standing.</p><p><strong></strong></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/48lagMHIRL6V.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VR9PVIxGAFin.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Sonic Lost World Slide"></p><p><strong>Phil Savage: Sonic Blues</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Last week, I reviewed <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-review/">Fallout 4</a>. Before that, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/guild-wars-2-heart-of-thorns-review/">Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns</a>. That is a lot of RPG to pack into not a lot of space. This week, when the question of whether or not we should review Sonic: Lost World came up, I figured <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/sonic-lost-world-review/">what the hell</a>&mdash;it'll make a nice change.</p><p>It's awful, obviously. But I like playing a terrible game once in a while. It's a palette cleanser, making you better appreciate those games that aren't awful. To be clear, I'm not suggesting everybody goes out and buys Sonic: Lost World. But if you get a chance to buy a truly awful piece of trash for a low, low price&mdash;give it a shot. It might give you a greater respect for those games that do come together.</p><p><strong>Andy Kelly: That’s life</strong></p><p>Fallout 4 has been out for ten days now, and I’ve hardly touched it. I mean, I’ve played ten hours, but in Bethesda terms that’s nothing. Why? Because of life. Treacherous, disruptive, responsibility-filled life. I’ve been out of the country, at a wedding, and otherwise away from my PC, all the while dreaming about being in the Commonwealth.</p><p>It’s okay, though. This weekend I have no plans, no responsibilities. It’s just me, Fallout 4, and a fridge full of luxury beer. I’ll look like a feral ghoul by the time I crawl away from my PC. That’s the trouble with all these big open-world games. There just isn’t enough damn time to play them all AND keep your life running smoothly. I could just sit around and play games all day, I suppose, but I like my job, and my flat, and having electricity, and my girlfriend. So I’ll just have to take every chance I can to sink some quality time into these massive games.</p><p><strong></strong></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_9700-yARR-Y.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/e31fCgLMLJC2.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Witness Slide"></p><p><strong>Tom Marks: Witness me</strong></p><p>Okay, so this is sort of one of those cop-out lows we do occasionally, but bear with me. Jonathan Blow said this week that <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witness-wont-have-distracting-music-but-it-will-have-voice-acting/">The Witness won’t have any music</a> because it would distract from a game primarily about observing your surroundings. I completely understand what that means and it’s probably the right decision, but as somebody with the Braid soundtrack on their iPod, I was really hoping for some more awesome music in this game. That soundtrack was so good, but it also served a practical purpose in a game about rewinding and stopping time. I suppose to the same point, not having music serves a practical purpose in a game about observation. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still grumpy about it.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Tyler Wilde: Hard times in Hard West</strong></p><p>Wait, Tom, do you really still use an iPod? Crazy.&nbsp;Anyway,&nbsp;I’ve been playing the XCOM-like&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/wild-west-strategy-game-hard-west-is-out-now/">Hard West</a> this week (I'll have a review next week), and while I really am starting to like it, a few design decisions are bugging me. It just doesn’t respect failure the way XCOM does. In XCOM, when a mission goes sour, you get to jet back to base to lick your wounds and prepare for the next one. In Hard West, each mission includes one or more vital characters who absolutely cannot die. If they die, you have to start the same mission over.</p><p>And these aren’t random missions. If you spent the first half of one sneaking around guards to steal a key, you’ve got to do the exact same thing again. The missions aren’t especially hard, but Hard West takes line-of-sight very seriously, to the point of being finicky. Shots that look clean will have a 0 percent hit chance, and enemies can spend a whole match hanging out around a corner, totally unseen or heard. I put about 20 minutes into one scenario, then moved a vital character into what seemed like safe cover. On the enemy’s turn, a guy strolled out of cover and shot her in the back. Dammit. I like Hard West when a loss teaches me something about the tactics it values, but sometimes all it teaches me is, ‘Hey, there’s a dude back there, so, watch out for that.’&nbsp;</p> SOCOM lives: How a PS2 classic is being remastered by fanshttp://www.pcgamer.com/socom-lives-how-a-ps2-classic-is-being-remastered-by-fans/It could have been forgotten and discarded, but SOCOM's most passionate fans are bringing it back to life on PC.Fri, 20 Nov 2015 23:30:14 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/socom-lives-how-a-ps2-classic-is-being-remastered-by-fans/ActionBest ofFPSInsurgency <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qjj8FydjSPKh.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NKEFhPVnU3Yw.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Image01"></p><p> Alone on a dark desert hillside, a soldier lies prone in a patch of scrub brush. In the distance down the hill, a black shape moves forward. Spotting his chance, the soldier pops up and hurls a grenade. “He’s about to go for this,” a commentator says, calling the play-by-play for online viewers. But he's revealed his position too soon, and midway through his grenade throw, the lone soldier is interrupted by a burst of machine gun fire. The audience watches him fall as the momentum of the battle shifts.</p><p> The world of esports is growing fast, and broadcast matches like this one happen every day. But what’s special about this match is that it didn’t take place in Counter-Strike: it was played in <a href="http://www.socomsource.com/">SOCOM: Source</a>, a remastering of 2002 PlayStation 2 exclusive SOCOM. With&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/insurgency-review/">Insurgency</a> as the base for now, a small group of fans is modding in SOCOM’s third-person perspective and crosshairs, rebuilding classic maps, modeling classic characters, and writing logic for their favorite game modes.</p><p> “Ever since SOCOM 2, I’ve always wanted to see a remastered SOCOM,” the mod creator, Redline, told PC Gamer. The 26-year-old freelance programmer from Chicago has pursued it as a side project. “I know a lot of people who always wanted that, too. A little over a year ago, I finally decided to do something about it. Anyone in this community, you could ask them: What would you do if you won the lottery? For a lot of us, it would be, first, I would fund a SOCOM game. These guys are very passionate.”</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cBPrnZTNTX2V.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/OeKXE6hqBKDq.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="SOCOM Source"></p><p> How did a PlayStation 2 game come to be reborn as a mod for an indie shooter on Steam? The project began as a mod for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Redline had never modded games before, but he decided to learn and bring back his childhood favorite. “When I was a kid, I got high speed internet, so I went out and bought a high-speed game: it was SOCOM. I played it nonstop. I skipped school to play it.”</p><p> As one of the first games to demand modern internet speeds, SOCOM introduced a lot of staples of online gaming. Matchmaking and lobbies were new concepts at the time. In 2002, though, PlayStation 2 consoles didn’t have a way to support online communities. Websites sprang up to organize tournaments and connect people, and a competitive scene grew around these third-person action games. These sites didn’t have a way to talk directly to players’ consoles, so players had to sign on and report the results from any organized match manually.</p><blockquote>New players send him messages that read like they’ve found the promised land. A few claim to be moved to tears.</blockquote><p> After SOCOM 2 in 2003, the series changed direction. The small squads and special forces missions were replaced in 2005 with vehicle combat and other changes that turned away the hardcore group as SOCOM sought the broader appeal enjoyed by games like Battlefield. The community that had formed around the games eventually evaporated. Millions of copies of the game were sold on PS2 and PS3, but servers running the online game modes were finally <a href="https://community.us.playstation.com/t5/SOCOM-General-Discussion/Decommission-of-SOCOM-servers/td-p/37388448?tstart=0">taken offline in 2012</a>. No SOCOM game has been announced since 2011’s SOCOM 4, which <a href="http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-07-17-sony-signals-end-to-socom-mag-online-support">lost its servers</a> in January 2014. As far as anyone knows, the SOCOM series is dead.</p><p> After Redline began his project, word spread and the community started to come back. Within a week of launching, he had <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/groups/socomsource#discussions">1,500 subscriptions</a>. As the mod grew, it switched from being a Counter-Strike mod to an Insurgency mod, a move that gave Redline a better base to work from. New players send him messages that read like they’ve found the promised land. A few claim to be moved to tears. One player told PC Gamer that he’s seen lifelong console gamers build or buy a PC just to play SOCOM online again.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_IbC5LcdOzg?list=PLZN9t3O0YhhiaeWI4iwSExlc01t-DdmKT" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p> Redline is doing all the programming himself, while a few community members volunteer their time to help with modeling and level design. “This entire operation is fueled by a love for SOCOM. Everyone works on this and puts in more hours than most people actually think, and they do it just because they want this game back so badly,” Redline says. “We get absolutely nothing else in return. In fact, some of us put our own money up to keep it going when donations don't come in.”</p><p> Tobias Strömbäck, a SOCOM player from Sweden, is a big fan of the mod and the community that has resurfaced around it. “Our community and the developer all are very passionate about the mod,” he said. “We all want a great SOCOM game. It's an actual community. People know each other, for better or worse. But we all want the same thing... Joining a server sometimes gives me the feel of walking into the onto the schoolyard where my buddies are hanging out.”</p><p> It’s becoming a big schoolyard. 10,000 unique players have logged on since March. Online matches have tallied up 37,000 hours. Over 7.7 million shots have been fired. Another player, Josh, calls the game “magical.” “I always tell friends about this mod,” he said. “I think the biggest issue is some hardcore fans died with the game when the servers were taken down on the PlayStation network.”</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/XOWjWmdbR-SN.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/l4Tn32H5vdTz.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Image02"></p><p>Right now, the mod is moving through alpha and approaching a beta release early next year. The biggest change, the switch in perspective from first person to third person, is in place and stable. The coming weeks will see new competitive features and more maps added. At the mechanical level, though, the game already feels like SOCOM. “It is the [mod] on the market that is the closest to the original SOCOM games,” Mike, one of the active community members, told PC Gamer. “A few more tweaks to the gameplay, mainly the animations, and this mod will be as true to original SOCOM gameplay.”</p><p>Eventually, Redline hopes to port the entire project over to the Source 2 development kit and create a free, standalone game called SOCOM: Source. For now, he's continuing to build his new SOCOM community,&nbsp;adding clan support, tournament ladders, and all of the other tools that didn’t exist when the PS2 had its day. “This is the way to get the gameplay back,” he says. There’s determination in his voice. “But [the community] is the bigger picture. We can’t just keep playing the same maps for the rest of our lives.”&nbsp;</p><p>Building the community, Redline thinks, will let them bring the same structure to other games as well. “I never got into the competitive CS:GO experience because I know that I don’t like it. I don’t want that, I want to get the SOCOM feel back. I’m a PC gamer, but I want to bring back the console multiplayer community experience.”</p> Path of Exile Ascendancy expansion details and class revealhttp://www.pcgamer.com/path-of-exile-ascendancy-expansion-details-and-class-reveal/Deadly traps, more loot, and new skill trees in the Ascendancy expansion.Fri, 20 Nov 2015 20:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/path-of-exile-ascendancy-expansion-details-and-class-reveal/Dungeon CrawlerPath of Exile <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/NUXxTpp7xCU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> Earlier this week, Grinding Gear Games, the developers of free-to-play dungeon crawler&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/path-of-exile/" target="_blank">Path of Exile</a>, stopped by&nbsp;to give us a peek at the new expansion. While I didn't have any hands-on time with Ascendancy, I walked away with a few impressions and details on what to expect when it arrives in early 2016.</p><p> In Ascendancy, players have the opportunity to get chopped, screwed, disintegrated, and generally rearranged in new ways thanks to the addition of The Lord’s Labyrinth. The labyrinth is meant to be a hefty challenge&mdash;die once and you'll have to start over&mdash;but completion leads to some hefty rewards, including access to new item enchantments, gems, exotic items, and a new specialized&nbsp;Ascendancy class.</p><p> Six new trap types will show up in varying combinations depending on what kind of labyrinth is generated that day. That means sawblades might get paired with spike traps in one section, while the next throws in timed rising lava pool here and there. Even the developers don't quite know what to expect. There will be a new labyrinth every day, and its layout will be the same for everyone. This could lead players to regularly share&nbsp;information about dungeon layouts and secrets, almost like a daily crossword or sudoku puzzle.&nbsp;I'm into the idea of playing for a short session&nbsp;a day, just to see what the labyrinth has in store. Despite the extra challenge, it's a welcome play style for newcomers or those without much free time.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nRkw2IE2Rj21.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5zuNG6JtPiii.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Traps require some nimble clicking, a welcome change in pace to the dungeon crawling formula. " class="" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"><figcaption>Traps require some nimble clicking, a welcome change in pace to the dungeon crawling formula. </figcaption></figure><p> Ascendancy feels like a nod&nbsp;to popular permadeath games like&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-binding-of-isaac-rebirth/" target="_blank">The Binding of Isaac</a>. The randomly generated labyrinth’s rooms are gated by switches, keys, and all sorts of mechanical contraptions. There might be more doors than keys, so choosing which door to open and when seems an important decision. Magical fonts hidden throughout give no indication of whether they debuff or buff the player before they're absorbed&mdash;it&nbsp;may be a combination of both.&nbsp;Some paths can skip whole sections (even boss fights)&nbsp;entirely, that is, if the player pays enough attention. A secret door may be accessible, but only beyond a series of thrusting&nbsp;spike floors on a timer and roaming sawblades. It sure is hard to scrutinize a wall while a metal blade hacks away at your legs.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/KI5Oe0jrSmCp.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QDf9Ysla6eGp.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The boss shows up at the end of each stage, but carries over certain player-influenced buffs from the fight to fight." class="" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"><figcaption>The boss shows up at the end of each stage, but carries over certain player-influenced buffs from the fight to fight.</figcaption></figure><p> The expansion sounds like a nice way to mix up typical dungeon crawler play. The traps, secret branching pathways, and permadeath might force players to stay on their toes a bit&nbsp;more than before. Most people I know who&nbsp;play dungeon crawlers usually have Netflix or a stream open on the other monitor, but&nbsp;Ascendancy might disrupt those habits.</p><p> Finish the labyrinth and you&nbsp;unlock an Ascendancy class, one of 19 smaller, specialized skill trees layered over the existing (and absolutely massive) skill tree. Ascendancy classes feel like an attempt to make each build, no matter how elaborate, play in a much more distinct manner. Take a gander at a few below, and check out our video reveal of the Saboteur up top to get a better idea of what they entail.</p><p> The final&nbsp;kicker? Path of Exile and its expansions are all still free. The only things for sale are cosmetic items and a few account features, like extra stash tabs or character slots. Check out&nbsp;<a href="https://www.pathofexile.com/" target="_blank">the official site</a> for more.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vwCGT8ttfWE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/t94tgjGnSn-l.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9ZMCn-H3L040.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="SaboteurAscendancyPassives"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/y2nqYGhpROOO.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YpcNwURgQOF-.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="SlayerAscendancyTree_path of exile"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/O0Br4QeyRUOI.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/37Gg1YLrLJ1F.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="NecromancerAscendancyTree_path of exile"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tb3vUT4FSCqz.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-nwpG4-uJYhQ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="GladiatorAscendancyTree_path of exile"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VCaROMD_SseV.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vVAfr0CgLvAX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="DeadeyeAscendancyTree_path of exile"></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/v0gejqLoSPyd.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7xs-ZKXK9ThO.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="ChampionAscendancyTree_path of exile"></p> 25 of the best cases for your next PC buildhttp://www.pcgamer.com/20-of-the-best-cases-for-your-next-pc-build/We've updated our list ofthe best computer cases for every form factor, from Mini-ITX to E-ATX.Fri, 20 Nov 2015 18:25:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/20-of-the-best-cases-for-your-next-pc-build/Build Week 2015CasesHardwareTech Watch one of the best Dota 2 matches of all timehttp://www.pcgamer.com/watch-one-of-the-best-dota-2-matches-of-all-time/Divine Rapiers fly as two of the world's best teams meet at the Frankfurt Major.Fri, 20 Nov 2015 18:13:12 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/watch-one-of-the-best-dota-2-matches-of-all-time/Dota 2esportsMOBAPro <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fyng3JWziBg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> Everybody expected a lot from EG vs. Team Secret. A faceoff between them was one of several hotly-anticipated conclusions to the International 2015. The rise of Chinese underdogs CDEC put paid to that notion at the time. Today, however, the latest iterations of these two western powerhouses duked it out with a slot in the Frankfurt Major grand final on the line. These are players who have history with one another, and these two teams are considered to be evenly matched.</p><p> Even so, I’m not sure that anybody expected a series quite as good as this. The best-of-three was incredibly intense, and game one was easily one of the best games this year (if not one of the best ever.) We’re talking kill-counts that even out every time one team pulls ahead and gold/experience graphs that look like a sine waves. Even matchups can end up passive, or they can turn out to be one-sided after all. This was neither. This was two of the best teams in the world matching each other, then matching each other, then again, and again, until something finally gave. Completely extraordinary Dota.</p><p> I’d be really surprised if this match doesn’t go down in history. For that reason, I’m not going to spoil it here. Put aside an hour and watch game one, embedded above. Then, watch games two and three: you can find the links <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/DotaVods/comments/3snac8/frankfurt_major_2015">here</a>, just scroll down to the upper bracket final (it’s all spoiler-free). If you’ve got any interest in competitive Dota, you need to catch this one.</p><p> There’s a decent chance that EG and Secret will clash once again in the grand final tomorrow. That’ll be a best-of-five. If it’s as good as this, I don’t think the crowd in Frankfurt will be able to cope. Don’t miss it: tune in at 14:30 CET/13:30 GMT/05:30 PST and prepare to watch history happen. Again. The official stream is available <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/dotamajor">here</a>.</p><hr><p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> The best open world gameshttp://www.pcgamer.com/best-open-world-games/This is a golden age for open world games, but which are the best?Fri, 20 Nov 2015 17:04:55 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/best-open-world-games/Best of The best pro gaming to watch this weekendhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-pro-gaming-to-watch-this-weekend-8/Three million dollar Dota, Smite, CS:GO and more.Fri, 20 Nov 2015 14:22:30 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-pro-gaming-to-watch-this-weekend-8/Counter-Strike: Global OffensiveDota 2esportsFPSLeague of LegendsMOBAProSmite <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Yt9Ty7yQSoeC.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cfxauVwQ5QLE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Counter-Strike Global Offensive"></p><p> It’s another stacked weekend in the world of being incredibly good at computer games for money. Coming up tomorrow we’ve got high-level Dota 2, Smite, CS:GO, and League of Legends. With the majority of the year’s World Championships now done, this is the beginning of the next year of regular season play. If you needed proof that competitive gaming is only getting bigger and bigger, consider that the amount of money on the line this weekend would have set a world record just two years ago.</p><hr><h3>Dota 2: The Frankfurt Major</h3><p> Saturday will see the final stages of this official $3m Dota tournament play out in Germany. The lower bracket final will begin at 10:30 local time (09:30 GMT/01:30 PST) to be followed by the grand final at 14:30 CET (13:30 GMT/05:30 PST). At the time of writing, either Team Secret or Evil Geniuses will snag the upper bracket grand final slot. The loser of their match will face either EHOME or OG for the final place. This has been an amazing tournament so far, with lots of different regions and playstyles represented at the very top. You can watch the games on <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/dotamajor">Twitch</a> or on the <a href="http://www.dota2.com/watch">official Dota 2 streaming site</a>. Don’t miss it.</p><h3>Smite Super Regional</h3><p> This weekend, the world’s best Smite teams will battle for a chance to compete in January’s World Championship. The North American and European Championships are running alongside one another, with the third place and wildcard matches taking place on Saturday and the two grand finals on Sunday. This is a young and dynamic competitive scene and a really exciting game to watch: thoroughly recommend checking it out, even if you only tune in for the finals. The show begins at 10.30 EST (15.30 GMT/07:30 PST) on both days, and you’ll find the Twitch stream <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/smitegame">right here</a>.</p><h3>Counter-Strike: GO at Intel Extreme Masters San Jose</h3><p> Seven international invited teams plus one qualifier (from last week’s iBUYPOWER Cup) take part in a brutal two-day single-elimination bracket. This promises to be top-flight CS:GO with a healthy prize pool, and a good opportunity for US fans to watch games on their own time for the first time since, er, last week. But it’s normally less common, honest. Play begins at 19.40 PST on both days, which is 22.40 EST. This creates a bit of an issue for European viewers: Saturday’s games will begin at 03.40 GMT/04.40 CET on Sunday and Sunday’s at the same time on Monday. That’s only fair, mind. Watch the action <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/esl_csgo">here</a>.</p><h3>League of Legends at Intel Extreme Masters San Jose.</h3><p> As Worlds 2015 fades into memory, rekindle your enthusiasm for competitive League this weekend. As with CS:GO, this is a single-elimination bracket: but unlike CS:GO, the teams ere assembled through a vote in China, Europe and North America plus a single invited KeSPA team, Jin Air Green Wings. The tournament runs concurrently with the CS:GO, so see above for times. <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/esl_lol">Click here</a> for the Twitch stream.</p><hr><p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> Sonic: Lost World reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/sonic-lost-world-review/Do Sonic fans finally have a game worthy of their adoration? Spoiler: no.Fri, 20 Nov 2015 11:55:34 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/sonic-lost-world-review/PlatformerReviewsSegaSonic: Lost World <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Need to Know</h5> <p> <strong>What is it?</strong>&nbsp;3D platformer starring Sega's long-suffering mascot.<br> <strong>Expect to pay</strong> £20/$30<br> <strong>Release</strong> Out now<br> <strong>Developer </strong>Team Sonic<br> <strong>Publisher </strong>Sega<br> <strong>Reviewed on </strong>GeForce GTX 970, Intel i5-3570k, 8GB RAM<br> <strong>Multiplayer </strong>No<br> <a href="http://www.sonicthehedgehog.com" target="_blank">Link</a><strong><br> </strong> </p> </div><p> Sorry Sonic, but your once celebrated '90s attitude no longer seems charming. Maybe you wouldn't be in this mess if, rather than spending your life making quips and waggling your finger, you'd settled down into a real job with a proper pension plan. You could have retired with some dignity. Instead, you've been dragged out for another sub-par platformer. You're a tired, ageing lesson in the importance of financial planning and stability&mdash;if not for yourself, then for Sega.</p><p> There are some things I like about Sonic: Lost World. It's a bright and vibrant game, and varied enough within its very specific design. It also features mercifully little of Sonic's annoying menagerie of friends. Tails is there, of course, and 'Eggman', but even Amy and Knuckles have relatively little screen time. Unfortunately, we get the Deadly Six instead&mdash;less characters than colours with a personality trait. One is purple and violent, another green and vain. They're awful.</p><p> It's a reasonable port job, too. Coming to us from the Wii U&mdash;where it probably should have stayed&mdash;the game runs at 60 frames per second without any problems. That said, the aliasing results in cutscenes more jagged than my teeth after they've been ground down during the numerous, terrible attempts to spice up the core running and jumping. (In one section, I had to guide a fragile, inexplicably huge and deadly melon into a rotary blade. That was many hours ago, and I'm still a bit angry about it.)</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Hr1AUZsVRmyu.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/X0vQWI71nwdB.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Remember Sonic 2's Metropolis Zone? This is like that, only worse." class=""><figcaption>Remember Sonic 2's Metropolis Zone? This is like that, only worse.</figcaption></figure><p> The Lost World in question is comprised of multiple tubes and small planetoids that Sonic runs across. Sometimes, to mix things up a bit, he runs inside them too. Other times, he must navigate a weirdly rotating 2D plane that features many references to Sonic's Mega Drive heyday&mdash;something of an inadvisable move, given the unfavourable comparison. Super Mario Galaxy was clearly an influence, except, instead of joy, Lost World's primary emotion is a sort of sad malaise.</p><p>In each level, you lose control during interstitial transitions&mdash;the game playing itself for a few seconds as Sonic travels to the next island. These are the best bits. They look fluid and exciting, and always do exactly what they're supposed to. With a player in control, it's nothing like as smooth. For an ostensibly speedy hedgehog, Sonic has no precision in the air. This is fine during sections where all that's required is to go fast and avoid obstacles. The moment the game asks for some finesse, everything falls apart.</p><p>To make up for Sonic's lack of aerial nimbleness, there's a double-jump and lock-on attack. Both are activated by pressing the jump button in the air, but the lock-on is inconsistent. It works most of the time, but not always. Double-jumping pulls Sonic out of his spin, so this can be the difference between doing damage and taking it. Things only get more arbitrary when you need multiple lock-ons, or a single, charged attack.</p><p> The game recommends using a controller, but opens a menu screen when you click the left-analogue stick&mdash;the one that's used for movement. Wrench the stick in either direction as you attempt to cajole the sluggish blue ball into doing what he's told, and the game will instead pause to list its optional missions.</p><p> There's parkour, too&mdash;although that word implies a level of grace and artistry that's absent here. It's activated by holding the sprint button, something that you'll almost always be doing because Sonic's default speed is painfully slow. Sprint directly into a wall, and Sonic will run up it. Jump against a wall that's parallel with you, and Sonic will run along it. Alternatively, he'll flounder awkwardly against the wall before dropping you into some deadly hazard. He can be fickle like that.</p><p> On the main path, the parkour is rarely necessary, but each level contains alternate routes and secrets. If the game's freerunning wasn't an awkward, cack handed mess, these would probably be fun to find. It is, though, and so it's not.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PG4TVOvkT6-o.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/h_AUx14C8oZ4.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="I admit: I enjoyed this bit." class=""><figcaption>I admit: I enjoyed this bit.</figcaption></figure><p> I like one level in Sonic: Lost World. In Desert Ruin, Zone 2, Sonic must run down a hexagonal tree because reasons. The gravity shift creates a sense of continuous momentum&mdash;letting Sonic bash through lines of bees, before quickly dodging through hives and across log sections. It's a one off. Everywhere else, Sonic's flow is continuously broken. It's difficult to know whether the game values speed&mdash;supposedly Sonic's raison d'être&mdash;or methodical exploration. The balance is trapped in the middle, rendering both options frustrating.</p><p> By giving Lost World contextual traversal mechanics&mdash;from parkour to lock-on attacks&mdash;a game about fine, exacting movements is lumbered with controls that rarely do what you want. Of the many lives I lost, all too few felt like a result of my own mistakes. And that's just in the regular zones. Sometimes, Sonic's on ice&mdash;his already annoying imprecision made worse. I'm angrier about that than I am the melon thing.</p><p> Should you buy Lost World? Maybe if you have a DeviantArt page dedicated to Sonic. Even then, probably not.</p> Assassin's Creed Syndicate port impressionshttp://www.pcgamer.com/assassins-creed-syndicate-port-impressions/We've tried the game on two very different PCs, and here's how it's working.Fri, 20 Nov 2015 01:36:22 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/assassins-creed-syndicate-port-impressions/ActionAssassin's Creed Syndicate <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/pvdvx28FSP6g.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/frSELpzRM66T.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Syndicate"></p><p> I'm only a few hours into Assassin's Creed Syndicate, so I've got no review just yet&mdash;look for it sometime next week. In the meantime, here are some impressions of how it's running on two different PCs.</p><p>First, my PC.&nbsp;Ever have a game come along that makes you feel like&nbsp;your mid-range PC is actually a low-end PC? It just happened for me&nbsp;with Syndicate. I've got an&nbsp;Intel i7 980&nbsp;@&nbsp;3.33 GHz, 9 GB RAM (there's three sticks of 2&nbsp;GB and 3 sticks of 1 GB, just to get that inevitable question answered). I've got an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 and I'm&nbsp;playing at 1920x1080.</p><p>When I asked the game to auto-detect the best settings, it set everything to 'low,' and I said "Ha ha, no" because I can usually get away with 'high,' sometimes even 'very high.' But, this time it wasn't far off the mark. Pay attention to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-assassins-creed-syndicate-system-requirements-are-here/">the minimum required specs we posted</a>, because they're not messing around.</p><p> On medium settings, I get around 45 fps in the highly-populated outdoor areas, which isn't bad, but it really does not look terribly pretty. You can enlarge the image by clicking the top right corner.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ZzALDg9ISYmn.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/4OmLiSgc6oPC.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Med"></p><p>Even on 'high,' where I get maybe 30-35 fps, it doesn't look a whole lot better, at least not enough to justify the framerate loss.&nbsp;I've tried tweaking a few things up and down, mainly the anti-aliasing, because jagged lines are the least pleasant things to look at, but each tick up the ladder leads to worse framerates. If I go up to&nbsp;MSAA2x + FXAA it can really&nbsp;start to crawl.</p><p>Over at PC Gamer HQ, the team&nbsp;tried it out on a much&nbsp;better PC: Core&nbsp;i7-5960X @&nbsp;3GHz,&nbsp;32GB RAM, and three&nbsp;GeForce GTX 980s. At 1920x1080 on&nbsp;the 'Ultra' preset they were managing 60&nbsp;fps indoors, but found it dropping to as low as 35 fps outside.</p><p> It was easy to fix.&nbsp;Using MSAA2x + FXAA instead of MSAA4x + FXAA got them a solid 60+ fps in outdoor areas.&nbsp;And reducing shadow quality was especially helpful. With settings on the 'high' preset, they were getting a steady 70 fps, peaking at 100 fps.&nbsp;In other words, those highest anti-aliasing and shadow quality settings really are <em>ultra</em>.</p><p> As far as glitches, I've had a couple. In the first three hours I was killed (or as the game puts it, <em>desynchronized</em>) by two different&nbsp;bugs. In the first, I attempted to gracefully leap off a train track onto the ground, got stuck, pinwheeled around for a bit, then died.</p><p><img class="gfyitem" alt="HideousTartCrustacean (gfyCat video) " data-id="HideousTartCrustacean" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><p>A little later I attempted to climb off a stagecoach, and fell through the pavement into the white void of the underworld. Dead again.</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="ObviousHastyLarva (gfyCat video) " data-id="ObviousHastyLarva" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"> </p><p>Apart from the fact that my PC isn't powerful enough to make it look really nice, and those two bugs, I'm having an enjoyable time. I've already met more historical figures than Forrest Gump. Running through crowds and bowling people over&mdash;even little kids&mdash;is just as fun as it always was. I'm planning to switch to a controller because keyboard and mouse just isn't the best way to play these games and I'm having my usual issues of climbing things without meaning to climb them and not climbing things when I'm trying to.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Xpr6nWqaSgmp.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/CBWBkhayjUfs.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Syndicate"></p><p>I'm also liking both of the playable characters, twins Jacob and Evie Frye. Jacob is a wiseass, as many protags are, but he's actually funny and likable, which is a plus. Syndicate is nice enough to give you the grappling hook pretty quickly, and it's fun ziplining around the rooftops (you can even slide <em>up </em>a zipline instead of just down, which is weird but useful). With all of the microtransactions (there's an entire menu of them, where you can spend real&nbsp;money for XP boosts, crafting&nbsp;materials, upgrades, clothing, etc.) I was a little afraid that leveling up and unlocking new skills would feel artificially slow. It doesn't feel that way, though:&nbsp;I've already unlocked a bunch of skills like improved stealth, and then <em>more</em> improved stealth, double-kills, and a few other things,&nbsp;so at the moment it really&nbsp;doesn't feel like any kind of grind.</p><p>That's about it for now! We'll have a full review next week. If you're already playing Syndicate and want to help others take a guess at their&nbsp;potential performance, let us know in the comments&nbsp;how it's running on your specs.</p> Mineski.JessieVash on the Major and Dota in the Philippineshttp://www.pcgamer.com/mineskijessievash-on-the-major-and-dota-in-the-philippines/The rise and fall of an underdog success story.Thu, 19 Nov 2015 22:32:41 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/mineskijessievash-on-the-major-and-dota-in-the-philippines/Dota 2esportsMOBAPro <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qtTLVNY9Qr2c.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uNC1EgF-BdQ_.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Tusk"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">JessieVash</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/G50YwtKpRoi2.jpeg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uP9ARSQSE1vh.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Image"> </p> <p> Jessie Christy "JessieVash" Cuyco has been playing with &nbsp;Mineski for years, although he was absent from the team from November 2014 to March 2015. He plays a versatile support role, playing successful games on Tusk, Winter Wyvern and Undying over the course of the Frankfurt Major. </p> </div><p> Mineski were one of the standout underdog success stories of the Frankfurt Major group stage. Having won the Southeast Asian qualifier, the Filipino team arrived in Germany as the top seed for their region and the only country representing the Philippines. In the group stages, they then managed to clinch 2-0 victories over both Alliance and EHOME that surprised everybody&mdash;even, apparently, them. This earned them a space in the upper bracket, and when their SEA counterparts Fnatic were eliminated by OG in the first round of lower bracket games they became the sole representatives of their scene at the Major.</p><p> Their fortunes at the main event haven't been as good, however. They faced a tough matchup against tournament favourite Team Secret in the first round of the upper bracket, which they lost 2-0. They then lost 2-0 against OG, as the latter continued their dream-ending streak through the lower bracket. Nonetheless, this was an impressive run. Like the Peruvian team Unknown.xiu, Mineski's success testifies to the fact that Dota is a truly international esport, with talent able to break through even in regions that lack the resources and training infrastructure of North America, Europe, and China.</p><p> A day after their elimination, I sat down for a chat with Mineski support player JessieVash.</p><p> <strong>PCG</strong>: What's the feeling like in the team at the moment, and for you personally?</p><p> <strong>JessieVash:</strong> It's good. We're still lacking in our practice schedule&mdash;we can't practice in the times we want. In the Philippines the teams are... in some practice games, they're not taking it seriously. That's the only problem for my team. We can't practice at the next level.</p><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> You had a really good group stage. How did you feel through those games?</p><p> <strong>JessieVash:</strong> I don't know, that day... we won straight 2-0 Alliance and 2-0 EHOME. We didn't expect to win against even Alliance, it was a surprise. But really we just played our game the way we want, the heroes where we are comfortable.</p><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> What happened coming into the main event? Did you feel more pressure?</p><p> <strong>JessieVash:</strong> Yeah! [Laughs] So much pressure. You can see in the game, the draft, in how we played&mdash;it gave pressure to every player on my team.</p><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> Did you feel intimidated by Secret at all?</p><p> <strong>JessieVash</strong>: In the Secret game, we had a chance to beat them. Really, the experience gap&mdash;how to end the game when we're the one who has the advantage&mdash;we still can't end the game to win.</p><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> That comes back to practice, right?</p><p> <strong>JessieVash</strong>: Yeah.</p><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> Many people, myself included were happy to see an SEA team and a Filipino team in the upper bracket at the main event. Did you feel any additional pressure because of that? Representing your country and your scene?</p><p> <strong>JessieVash:</strong> For me, I always like to represent the Philippines at the biggest events. For Kuku, this is only his second time getting to represent the Philippines.</p><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> This feels like a good patch from a spectator's perspective. How does it feel as a player? Are you happy with the metagame, with the heroes you're playing?</p><p> <strong>JessieVash</strong>: Yeah, but maybe that's why Europe is the one who has the meta now. They always draft some YOLO heroes&mdash;strength heroes. In Southeast Asia they play basic&mdash;two long-ranged supports. Here, we can see Secret picking four offlane heroes.</p><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> Support Tiny, yesterday.</p><p> <strong>JessieVash:</strong> Yeah, that's why they could pick Huskar&mdash;their opponent didn't expect them to pick the Huskar in the last draft. That's the experience gap again I think, for Puppey.</p><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> You did very well against a European team, however&mdash;Alliance. Was that different?</p><p> <strong>JessieVash:</strong> I'm not sure if Alliance are still in the top. I see them losing every game... before they played the Majors, they were winning. I think "Alliance is back!" already. I don't know what happened in the Majors games. Even in our game, it wasn't so hard to play against them. I see their skills and I felt that the team could match up against them.</p><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> What about OG? They were much more of an unknown.</p><p> <strong>JessieVash:</strong> In the OG games, we were really pressured by how they draft, how they play. They always pick Miracle- heroes that can carry them if anything happens. Even when they're losing early, we can't win the game.</p><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> We just saw exactly that, right? [This interview took place right after OG vs. Virtus Pro.]</p><p> <strong>JessieVash:</strong> Yeah.</p><p> <strong>PCG:</strong> Personally, then, which game did you most enjoy?</p><p> <strong>JessieVash:</strong> EHOME, I think. EHOME could be the number one team in China, I think. We played against them, I didn't expect to win even one game. We won 2-0!</p><p> <strong>PCG:&nbsp;</strong>Thanks for your time.</p><hr><p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> Fallout 4 5K gallery: post-apocalyptic photographerhttp://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-5k-screenshot-gallery/Take a moody trip through the wasteland with these high resolution screens.Thu, 19 Nov 2015 21:58:22 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-5k-screenshot-gallery/Fallout 4Pixel BoostRPG Football Manager 2016 reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/football-manager-2016-review/Football Manager 2016 unearths happy memoriesbut can it still truly call itself the beautiful game?Thu, 19 Nov 2015 21:34:50 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/football-manager-2016-review/Football Manager 2016ReviewssimStrategy <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">NEED TO KNOW</h5> <p> <strong>What is it? </strong>The latest in the venerable series of footie management sims.<br> <strong>Reviewed on:</strong> Core i5, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, 8GB RAM<br> <strong>Play it on:</strong> Core i5, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, 8GB RAM<br> <strong>Copy protection:</strong> Steam<br> <strong>Price:</strong> £35 / $50<br> <strong>Release date: </strong>Out now<br> <strong>Publisher: </strong>Sega<br> <strong>Developer: </strong>Sports Interactive<br> <strong>Link:</strong>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.footballmanager.com/games/football-manager-2016/key-features">Official site</a><br> </p> </div><p> Sports Interactive’s legendary dugout sim has endured some polarising seasons. Critics say its modern form is too complex and sprawling. Fans argue it appears that way because it offers all the depth of being a real manager. Boo-boys decry its UI as impenetrable. Converts insist that everything you need is to hand if you only know where to look. And in pretend football as in real life, forumite squabbling ultimately smothers any attempt at serious discussion. At least until everyone concurs that Robbie Savage is a plum.</p><p> Let’s kick off with those repeated criticisms&mdash;or are they compliments?&mdash;then. The main interface is certainly overwhelming for new or lapsed players. Where once player searches, team selection and vital stats were a cursor-click away, now every screen is a spaghetti junction of words and digits and pie charts, constructed upon a foundation of assumed knowledge, from which all roads seem to reach dead ends. The only way for novices to bed in is by initially palming key tasks, such as training and scouting, off to AI-controlled staff members. They perform these roles satisfactorily, but it’s not ideal.</p><p> After mastering the menus&mdash;this year it took me two hours, novices are looking at 4-5&mdash;you see why ardent fans back ‘their’ game so lustily, and praise the deeper features that weren’t there in the supposed golden years. Back then, transfers and matches were the big time sink; now it’s the tiny decisions made every few seconds which tax the grey matter and cause whole weekends to disappear. Do you start a star player returning from injury, despite your physio warning he’ll only last 30 minutes? Do you bollock an underperforming full-back at half-time, or calmly reassure him he can turn it round? At a press conference, do you fancy QPR or Cardiff to win at the weekend&mdash;and if you choose one, will the other use that as dressing room bulletin-board material next time you meet?</p><p>Like God himself having a kick-around in the Amazon, all these actions can trigger a domino effect however innocuous they appear. Football Manager is actually something of a misleading title; these days it’s more like Football Micro-Manager. And while handling the minutiae of training ground life is a relatively new, and impressive, feature, developer Sports Interactive has by no means lost track of what got it this far.</p><p>Transfer negotiations are devilishly fun. Agree a fee for a player and you’re invited to sit down with his agent to negotiate not only a wage, but clauses such as promotion pay rises and even his fee for being an unused sub. It’s especially amusing to toy with the middle man by upping your target’s salary to slightly more than that requested, then greatly reducing his personal cut. At lower league clubs, such penny pinching plays a vital role in your chances of long-term success&mdash;one major signing’s weekly appearance fee might cover the wages of three less-talented squad players. Which do you choose? Why are you lying awake at 2am in the morning pondering this? Because that’s the very essence of Football Manager.</p><p>Matchdays, too, are wonderfully elaborate, with press conferences, team talks and intricate tactical options creating the sense that each is a unique occasion. There’s no breezing through weeks of the season in an evening anymore. That might sound like a negative to anyone who’s skipped a few editions, but it’s not once comfortably embedded. Seeing your lads equalise from a whipped cross minutes after you specifically demand that type of delivery is fists-to-the-skies joyous. After a narrow win,&nbsp;I celebrate the positive dressing room reaction to&nbsp;my warm-down words&nbsp;almost as heartily as the goal that secured it.</p><p>There is a small caveat to this matchday enjoyment. Seven years since its introduction, the 3D engine still doesn’t feel like a true representation of top-level football. It’s passable, sure, but in a series known for excellence in everything it does, ‘passable’ equals disappointing. No one expects it to look like FIFA; the issue is that at least once per game a player will do something completely absurd that immediately shatters the illusion of reality.</p><p>Before anyone says ‘but players ignoring instructions is part of being a manager’, I present my tipping point: a home fixture vs MK Dons, 12 games into a promising Middlesbrough career. At 0-1 down my team has been instructed to stick to a narrow 3-1-3-1-2 formation and pump balls into the box. With seconds left, central defender Jonathan Woodgate pops up on the right wing, level with the edge of the penalty area. He has time to cross, yet decides to backtrack, and backtrack, and backtrack. All the way to the halfway line. Where he’s tackled. From there,&nbsp;MK breakaway for a match-sealing second goal. Swears uttered. Walls kicked. Mouse flung across the room.</p><p>I’ve since switched my highlight settings to ‘key’&mdash;goals, vital saves, rebounds off the woodwork&mdash;and am finding the game as addictive as ever; the rest of the time, my imagination brings the text-based commentary to life just as in Championship Manager’s glory days. I’m content with that, but it feels backwards to have improved a game by marginalising a lauded feature.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/q6FGNQulTbCe.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/pxD7yU2GGyn2.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Football Manager 2016 2"></p><p>Returning players will be aware that many of the element discussed so far were present in 2015. What’s in FM 2016 for them, then, other than updated squads? Firstly, the option to create your own avatar, in order to roam the touchlines of those 3D stadia. It’s, er, awful. Even with four ways to amend your jawline and 13 separate nose sliders, it’s impossible to make in-game-you look like anything other than a Stone Roses tribute&nbsp;band reject. The idea behind the feature is welcome, but needs significant refinement.</p><p>Much better is the seamless integration of analysis tool Prozone. Its inclusion enhances proceedings on both a superficial level&mdash;delivering reams of stats from elsewhere in the world via a loading-screen ticker&mdash;and hands-on one, enabling you to study any performance in surgical detail. Need to know the distance run by a particular player, exact placement of every single shot, trajectory of all set-pieces and outcome of every mistake before selecting next week’s team? All there, along with dozens of other insights, presented in surprisingly digestible form.</p><p>Also new are a useful set-piece editor and the ability to watch highlights packages of AI games. Yet the game suffers from the continuing absence of two innovations made by a contemporary. Out Of The Park Baseball has long enabled users to both play classic leagues, and&mdash;crucially&mdash;carry over saves from one release to the next. For FM to keep up with its former stablemate&mdash;SI actually published it between 2005 and 2007&mdash;it really needs to introduce the latter option. This is deeper and more detailed than ever, which only makes it extra galling that your 120-hour save game will be consigned to the Trash folder in 12 months’ time.</p> The best gaming routershttp://www.pcgamer.com/best-gaming-router/If you want a fast and stable connection for gaming online, these are the routers you should use, from budget to high-end.Thu, 19 Nov 2015 20:22:16 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/best-gaming-router/Buying GuideFeatured GuideHardware <p>Is there anything less fun than fiddling with a crappy, slow router? We say no, which is why we recommend spending the money on a&nbsp;great router for gaming. You want a reliable, fast network for playing games online, even when you're streaming. Thankfully, routers have come a long way since the early (and awful) days of 802.11g wireless.</p><p> Bristling with features and bizarrely sculpted, today's alien-looking routers&nbsp;can replace storage servers, provide antivirus security, combine ports for increased speeds, and perform other advanced tricks far beyond the bland hardware they replace. We've tested more than a dozen of the best to tell you which ones to get.</p><br/> <h3>The best all-around gaming router</h3><p> While all of the routers here mention gaming features, ASUS’s newly released, <span class="hawk-widget-insert" data-widget-type="link" data-model-name="RT-AC88U" data-link-text="$299 RT-AC88U"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B016EWKQAQ/?tag=pcgedit-20" rel="nofollow">$299 RT-AC88U</a></span> is one of the few that’s actually designed for gaming from the ground up. Clad in ROG-style black with red accents, the large console houses a hungry-man portion of 8 LAN ports, a blessing for gamers looking for lag free local co-op or hosting their own servers.</p><p> The rest of the hardware includes USB 2 and 3 ports (up to 110 MB/s) a beefy dual core processor and 4Tx4R antennas serving dual, high speed Wi-Fi streams. ASUS tout the inclusion of gaming optimized QoS controls and the WTFast gaming optimized WAN client built directly into the firmware, so PC-side installation is not required.</p><br/><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/K3tIxLj-TkON.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PB6AT7aJ3o1D.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Asus RT-AC88U menus"></p><p> Asus offers similar advice for antivirus software due to the protection TrendMicro’s enhanced security options provide via their ASUSWRT firmware, but run a virus scanner on your rig anyway and consider any router defenses additional, rather than primary, protection. Better safe than sorry.</p><p> Trading the extra wireless band for more wired LAN features is a welcome change of pace and sets the RT-AC3100 apart from the other routers here. ASUS leverages this further by providing port aggregation for super-speed LAN performance, a feature made actually useful due to all those extra Ethernet ports available on the AC88U. Devoting 4 Ethernet ports to aggregation for high speed server/workstation connections still leaves 4 ports open, and that’s not even touching wireless connectivity.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LwJ0fNSPSJec.PNG" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/GkofdoFFhKU_.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="RearPortsASUSAC88"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">LAN SPeed test</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/e_DhttqLRU-T.PNG" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VK40J7jT5IaB.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="LANtestAC3100.Average" style="background-color: initial;"> </p> <p> &nbsp; <em>ASUS’s RT-AC3100 scored impressive peak throughput numbers in motherboard Wi-Fi testing.</em></p></div><p> Not that wireless is problematic; MU-MIMO Wi-Fi range and performance are top notch, with both peak and sustained transfer rates slightly faster than the other routers here, if you can keep your Wi-Fi needs comfortably confined to dual bands without crowding. </p><p> And therein lies the problem; fast as it is, the <span class="hawk-widget-insert" data-widget-type="link" data-model-name="RT-AC88U" data-link-text="RT-AC88U"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B016EWKQAQ/?tag=pcgedit-20" rel="nofollow">RT-AC88U</a></span> is a dual-band design in a segment with plenty of excellent tri-band products that may merit closer attention at $300, especially if tri-band Wi-Fi figures into your networking plans. If you’re like many gamers and stick mostly to Ethernet however, this is the perfect router for you. Just be patient waiting for the inevitable price drop once this hot biscuit cools a bit; it’s still fresh out of the oven. </p><h3>The best budget router under $100</h3><p> For many with light networking needs, the best budget router is the free one that comes with their internet service, but gamers and enthusiasts aren’t likely to be satisfied with a handful of LAN ports and wimpy 802.11n Wi-Fi.</p><p> The first step on the road to router redemption comes from TP-Link in the form of the <span class="hawk-widget-insert" data-widget-type="link" data-model-name="Archer C7 AC1750" data-link-text="$90 Archer C7 AC1750"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BUSDVBQ/?tag=pcgedit-20" rel="nofollow">$90 Archer C7 AC1750</a></span>. The Archer C7 mimics the multi-antenna style of more pricey routers and delivers most of their features too, or at least the important basics. While it’s not well suited for sustained high-bandwidth use, it’s ideal for light to moderate networking situations and delivers plenty of useful features.</p><br/><p> You’ll find the standard array of 4 Gigabit LAN ports along with dual-band 802.11ac wireless, three external and three internal antenna, QoS (quality of service) controls, and a pair of USB expansion ports; a buffet of networking options that will keep a budget gamer fed well beyond the asking price.</p><p> You won’t find the competition’s USB 3.0 ports, excellent range, or top-shelf performance, but they don’t have the <span class="hawk-widget-insert" data-widget-type="link" data-model-name="Archer C7 AC1750" data-link-text="Archer’s low price"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BUSDVBQ/?tag=pcgedit-20" rel="nofollow">Archer’s low price</a></span> either. Also, while QoS is included, it’s a simple IP-based solution that’s light on granularity. Still, it’s a nice feature to see at this price.</p><h3>The best router for under $150</h3><p>The next step up the line is ASUS’s legendary <span class="hawk-widget-insert" data-widget-type="link" data-model-name="RT-AC66U" data-link-text="RT-AC66U"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008ABOJKS/?tag=pcgedit-20" rel="nofollow">RT-AC66U</a></span>, which is down to around $140 now, a reasonable $50 upgrade over TPLink’s Archer C7 in terms of stability, range, and real world Wi-Fi speed. While ASUS has similar specs on paper, the RT-AC66U is better designed to handle multiple client, high-load situations, and, thanks to ASUSWRT (ASUS’s in-house router BIOS) it’s more flexible when it comes to firmware options. QoS is much better implemented here, for example.</p> <div>Before falling headlong into May-December love, there are caveats to consider. The RT-AC66U may be well regarded, but it’s an elderly, single-core design, so don’t expect speedy USB transfer rates or the latest Wi-Fi tricks beyond the 802.11ac specification all the routers here share. If you want MU-MIMO support or beamforming you’ll need to move upmarket. That’s the catch behind the low cost.</div><br/><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ZYD0w0qqSsi_.PNG" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YCHW8ZkcKRR1.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="ASUS QoS 01"></p><p> In fact, it’s old enough that ASUS considers it a legacy product, and generally recommends newer models with more features. That’s also a testament to the robustness of <span class="hawk-widget-insert" data-widget-type="link" data-model-name="RT-AC66U" data-link-text="RT-AC66U"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008ABOJKS/?tag=pcgedit-20" rel="nofollow">RT-AC66U</a></span> however, as demand for the router keeps it popular, in production, and the primary budget router pick for this guide.</p><h3>Best mid-range router under $200</h3><p> Moving past the $200 barrier into the midrange of the router market means making some tough decisions about what advanced capabilities you’re willing to buy into and which you’re willing to forgo. This hotly contested segment is a wild west of features and shapes, but for the real do-it-all routers you’ll need to go another step up the money ladder. Keeping that specialization in mind means more picks than usual here, each with a specialty all its own. There are even a few honorable mentions.</p><p> The first midrange selection, <span class="hawk-widget-insert" data-widget-type="link" data-model-name="R7000 Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router" data-link-text="Netgear’s R7000"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F0DD0I6/?tag=pcgedit-20" rel="nofollow">Netgear’s R7000</a></span>, is borderline budget hardware with a typical street price of $180 but an official listed sticker around $250. The entry-level Nighthawk sports dual cores, a swift USB 3.0 implementation for connected devices and sweetens the deal with some of the best range and stability in the dual-band class.</p><br/><p> The upscale, wedge-shaped enclosure looks sharp without offending more conservative office decor, and provides three external antenna with beamforming to help focus Wi-Fi signals. Wireless range is above average, with better throughput at distance than either of the budget picks, along with an excellent reliability record now that the initial firmware frustrations have been worked out.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/lfWmVNKdTVCt.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kdWW__T9siOG.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Netgear R7000RearPorts"></p><p> The <span class="hawk-widget-insert" data-widget-type="link" data-model-name="Nighthawk R7000" data-link-text="R7000"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F0DD0I6/?tag=pcgedit-20" rel="nofollow">R7000</a></span> is also well supported by the open source community, with DD-WRT firmware available if Netgear’s standard issue BIOS leaves you flat. Drawbacks are few. While the hardware is newer than ASUS’s geriatric RT-AC66U, it’s still an aging, dual-band design, but that’s not a problem if you find one of the frequent sales that put this router well below $200. Above that price, some of the more feature-filled mid-range routers are better bets.&nbsp;</p><h3>Midrange router Honorable Mention – ASUS’s RT-AC3200 </h3><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ZZuoGO1uQG6J.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/fWJFEJMAvIj5.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="RT AC3200Borg"></p><p> If two bands aren’t enough to feed your Wi-Fi obsessions, ASUS’s similar&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S9SGNNS/?tag=pcgedit-20" target="_blank">RT-AC3200</a> offers a wireless-focused pinch hitter that’s similar but weighs in at a slightly cheaper list price ($279/£183) and a much cheaper street price, usually around $230/£151. Performance is comparable, although the Ethernet port count is down to the standard 4 and advanced gaming options are missing from the firmware. One big advantage? The RT-AC3200 has been around long enough to be stable while the RT-AC3100 has been on sale less than a month.</p><p> In a market this large there are winners, losers, and not-so-losers. Lest we forget, here are a few of these almost-winners, in no particular order. If you’re looking for something a little different, D-Link’s DIR-890L is a double-take special and a solid pick that combines a standard AC3200, tri-band feature set with sci-fi inspired metal bug looks. Wi-Fi range and speed aren’t chart-toppers, but they are strong enough to justify the $289/£189 purchase if you’re overcome by the D-Link’s red metallic, movie-prop moxie.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Ou8fDFxsR62j.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kvjD5-gpw3JA.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Late at night, the D-Link disconnects itself from your primitive wired communications system and scurries off to commune with others of its kind. You wouldn't understand; you’re made of meat." class=""> <figcaption>Late at night, the D-Link disconnects itself from your primitive wired communications system and scurries off to commune with others of its kind. You wouldn't understand; you’re made of meat.</figcaption></figure> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Asrock G10</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/fwt6jwKoRtGB.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/72n7b1pGGe4t.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="G10GamingRouter01"> </p> </div><p> It should come as no surprise that ASRock is behind yet another disruptive and interesting product, although routers are admittedly new territory for them. Their snazzy black chiseled&nbsp;<span class="hawk-widget-insert" data-widget-type="link" data-model-name="G10 Gaming Router" data-link-text="G10 Gaming Router"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01717UTXC/?tag=pcgedit-20" rel="nofollow">G10 Gaming Router</a></span> is an impressive first effort that includes a slick magnetic HDMI stick that acts as a travel WiFi hotspot and streaming receiver. It also includes an innovative, integrated IR receiver that can duplicate multiple remotes via a smartphone app connected using 802.11 wireless.</p><p> The G10’s internal hardware and shipping firmware aren’t as advanced as some of the other routers here, but give ASRock some time. If the G10 is any indication, they’ll be challenging the market leaders before long, especially if they leave the $300/£197 boutique pricing of the G10 behind and embrace their value-leader roots.</p><h3>Best high-end router over $300 </h3><div> Two routers dominate here, but there’s really only one winner. Netgear’s brand new <span class="hawk-widget-insert" data-widget-type="link" data-model-name="Nighthawk X8" data-link-text="Nighthawk X8"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015PD3HOC/?tag=pcgedit-20" rel="nofollow">Nighthawk X8</a></span> takes the crown for high-end routers after a tough battle in the lab with ASUS’s equally new and impressive RT-AC5300. As always, it’s a tale of Netgear’s range and smooth firmware experience vs ASUS’s superior transfer speeds and more detailed options, but this round had a few additional surprises.</div><div><p>The Nighthawk X8 blanketed the test area with all-encompassing MU-MIMO Wi-Fi coverage and produced an impressive signal, the strongest measured during the showdown. While the transfer rates were slightly behind some of the others, those speeds were sustained for a healthy distance. I maintained a useful signal out of the building and well down the street, a feat the other routers could not reliably match. USB-connected hard disk performance was also impressive, clocking in at over 100 MB/s for the USB 3.0 port and pushing the gigabit Ethernet connection used during the copy to its limit.</p></div><br/><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/SV6MTrecQNOP.PNG" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TacRI6AdA_Xq.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="X8.WiFi8500.3"></p><p>Overall fit and finish are excellent and reflect the high price. The Nighthawk’s blue-lit external antennas move smoothly and stay where they are positioned, a feat that seems beyond the ASUS’s RT-AC5300’s droopy counterparts, and indicative of the Netgear’s superior construction. The dishrack/sine wave design may not evoke daydreams of stargates or alien bugs, but it does look sharp and fits in everywhere from a law office to a dorm room.</p><p> The X8’s firmware won’t impress networking gearheads but it includes plenty of handy options and avoids leaving you endlessly tweaking to find performance that’s been hidden away in a submenu. Netgear prides itself on ease of use, so what you see is what you get for the most part. Only a few obscure options will send you looking for the manual.</p><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">LAN options</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LQizbzHcSmW2.PNG" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/IZH880EzjiNr.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="ng8500PortAgg01" style="background-color: initial;"></p></div><p>The 6 Ethernet jacks include 2 aggregated ports, reflecting some of the smart choices seen on other routers here, and are backed by a state of the art, tri-band, quad-stream wireless radio array that has all the latest tricks up its sleeve, from active antenna beamforming to MU-MIMO.</p><p> Whether all of this is worth dropping $400 is another matter, but if you’re looking for a greatest hits collection of the best ideas in current home networking, you’ve just given a fair description of <span class="hawk-widget-insert" data-widget-type="link" data-model-name="Nighthawk X8" data-link-text="Netgear’s Nighthawk X8"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015PD3HOC/?tag=pcgedit-20" rel="nofollow">Netgear’s Nighthawk X8</a></span>.</p> <h3>What you need to know about routers: learning to play the numbers game</h3><h2></h2> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Wi-Fi Speed</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WxmU1OE_TGOi.PNG" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/APTKENQa-8ev.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="AddWiFiSpeed" style="background-color: initial;"> </p> </div><p> At first glance, the additive labels used for router performance seem misleading, but they actually serve a useful purpose once you understand what you’re looking at. Since they represent multi-device performance rather than a single network mega-stream, it helps to have the corresponding cumulative network load that you’re placing on the router in mind and ready to compare.&nbsp;Wireless bandwidth doesn’t work the way this advertisement suggests, but these are still useful numbers once you know what they mean.</p><p> Take note of the various networked hardware that uses the router, particularly heavy hitters like streaming boxes or home servers. While each router stream can theoretically handle up to 32 clients, they all share the stream’s total bandwidth, so it doesn’t take too many busy connections to bring a stream to its knees.</p><div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Checking bandwidth</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/e_DhttqLRU-T.PNG" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VK40J7jT5IaB.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="LANtestAC3100.Average" style="background-color: initial;"> </p> </div><p> A healthy 802.11ac Wi-Fi stream accommodates roughly 20-40 MB/s of bandwidth in the real world, with older standards pushing around 10-15MB/s, so the math is simple. Just add up the bandwidth needs on the client side and compare to what the router provides, leaving a comfortable margin for extra devices in the future, client upgrades, and some overhead.</p><p> If you have more active devices than your router can handle simultaneously, it’s time to consider upgrading to the extra streams a more muscular router provides. At this point, dual streams are a minimum requirement, but routers with three and even four streams are now available and provide enough concurrent wireless bandwidth for any reasonable needs.</p><p> Bandwidth-happy items like security cameras and Roku boxes affect shared bandwidth adversely, so consider giving these a separate network band of their own to play with or running an Ethernet cable for the worst offenders. Keep in mind that while these measures reduce bandwidth overhead for some wireless steams, the router is still processing the data, so router CPU performance and other areas are still affected.</p><h3> Current Events</h3><p> Two current technologies you’ll see mentioned frequently in router literature are MU-MIMO and beamforming. While these sound highly technical, they are both pretty easy to understand</p><p> Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output doesn’t sound much better than MU-MIMO, but it does describe the idea behind the technology well. Current Wi-Fi serves one client at time, swiftly switching between multiple clients when demand for bandwidth grows. MU-MIMO allows a router to stream to several clients simultaneously, at least in the downstream direction. This greatly improves response and available bandwidth, although all clients need to be MU-MIMO-aware, nearby, and preferably stationary.</p><p> Beamforming takes advantage of multi-antenna router designs to pinpoint the direction a signal is coming from and adjusts transmission power budget to accommodate that network client, rather than transmit the Wi-Fi signal equally in all directions. This allows a more efficient use of the transmitter’s limited range when user count is low.</p><h3>Old vs New: It isn’t so simple</h3><p> While old PC motherboards and CPUs quickly leave the scene when new ones come along, the router market is different. Routers tend to have long lifespans, and most developers regard firmware as works in progress. This makes the break in period for new routers unusually long for the world of high technology. Many products don’t reach full maturation for up to a year post release, after they have been supplanted in the product line-up by the latest and greatest flagship.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/M8vlIv9DTb-G.PNG" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2JYyc_XPLthY.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="ASUSWRT can use a 3G/4G module or smartphone for backup connectivity." class=""><figcaption>ASUSWRT can use a 3G/4G module or smartphone for backup connectivity.</figcaption></figure><p> Leisurely firmware development cycles also mean treading carefully when fresh models are released. If stability is what you’re after, the best place to start is with a popular older router rather than a newly designed one packed with what amounts to beta code. Support boards are filled with lost souls consigned to new-router purgatory for months at a time, waiting for firmware updates to fix critical features. Seriously, this happens a lot.</p><h3>Open source alternatives, your router’s secret twin</h3> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">PCI Wi-Fi</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/glvXlDNITraI.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/75Yyzef5FXuE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="ASUSWifiPCI" style="background-color: initial;"> </p> </div><p> Routers run on a BIOS-like firmware that’s usually accessed via a web browser, although some require special client-side software, such as Apple’s stalwart Airport Extreme. The included firmware is usually proprietary, but it’s not the only one you can run to operate most routers’ hardware.</p><p> Networking enthusiasts have cooked up open source alternatives like DD-WRT or Tomato that can be flashed onto most routers and provides a wealth of options usually not found in factory firmware. Processor overclocking, Wi-Fi radio overboosting, and other low-level options can wring extra performance out of factory designs, although don’t expect warranty coverage if anything goes wrong.</p><p> Due to its open-source nature, DD-WRT is frequently updated to support the latest popular networking features and patched to keep the package highly secure, but quirks exist depending on the hardware and community support for it. In this respect, it’s a lot like flashing an Android phone with CyanogenMod.</p><p> If DD-WRT interests you, stick with older routers such as ASUS’s RT-AC66U or go with newer routers expressly designed for open-source tinkering, such as the new Linksys WRT1900ACS.</p><h3>Need more network? Dangle a dongle or cram a card.</h3><p> Once you’ve selected a router, it’s smart to think about how your PCs will connect to it. LAN connections are simple enough (Is the cable long enough? Are there enough ports?) but for Wi-Fi, older laptops and many desktop systems will need to retrofit newer networking technology to see any serious performance increases. Fortunately 802.11ac USB adaptors are cheap and readily available from a variety of vendors.</p><p> Netgear and ASUS make the two of the best, boasting dual-stream performance and adjustable antennas along with other extras such as a desktop dock. These dongles manage impressive transfer speeds via USB 3.0 interfaces, but tend to be large and bulky.</p><p> PCI cards are also an option and offer slightly faster performance, assuming your desktop system is placed close enough to your router to take advantage of that.</p><p> For simpler, low-profile needs, Edmax and TP-Link make popular 802.11n adaptors smaller than wireless mouse receivers where size is more important than speed.</p><h2>How we tested</h2><p> All the routers in the guide underwent extensive hands-on evaluation including synthetic benchmark testing and real world usage in high-traffic network situations. Hardware was flashed to the latest firmware versions and tests repeated several times to expose and eliminate outlier results. Each of the firmware features, such as VPN support or high speed AP bridge modes, were examined and evaluated for functionality and stability issues.</p><p> During tests all products are prepared with similar settings and encryption levels to normalize performance variables, with the same client devices used in all procedures. Wireless tests include performance and range sensitivity measurements from 5 increasingly more difficult reception areas that represent a typical office or home space along with a nearby outdoor location. All areas are controlled environments with no foot-traffic or other factors inhibiting consistent results.</p><p> For mobile device testing, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 running Wi-Fi Speed Test Pro and Wi-Fi Analyzer Pro provided distance, sensitivity and throughput numbers for 802.11ac while Microsoft’s Surface Pro covered earlier 802.11n protocols via built in Wi-Fi. USB network adaptor performance was provided by Netgear’s AC1200 A6210 USB 3.0 adaptor, and desktop wireless tests utilized the built in high speed 3T3R Wi-Fi in ASUS’s Z170 Deluxe motherboard, which also provides the dual Intel LAN adaptors that were used to test Ethernet port speed and aggregation features.</p><p> USB storage speed tests were performed with a Seagate Backup Plus desktop external USB 3 hard disk and several 2 gigabyte files, with all USB accelerating firmware functions enabled, such as “Reduce USB 3.0 Interference – Disabled” on ASUSWRT based products. &nbsp;</p> Mark Hamill talks Star Citizen, Wing Commander and Star Warshttp://www.pcgamer.com/mark-hamill-talks-star-citizen-wing-commander-and-star-wars/PC Gamer meetsLuke Skywalker.Thu, 19 Nov 2015 15:03:12 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/mark-hamill-talks-star-citizen-wing-commander-and-star-wars/Best ofMust ReadStar Citizen <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/pQQPzHerrPE" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"> </iframe><p> Last month Squadron 42's&nbsp; <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/star-citizen-features-gary-oldman-gillian-anderson-mark-hamill/">sparkling cast</a> was revealed. Gary Oldman, Gillian Anderson,&nbsp;John Rhys-Davies and Mark Hamill&nbsp;all take leading roles in Star Citizen's single player campaign. PC Gamer's Chris Thursten sat down with Hamill for a chat about Star Citizen, Wing Commander, Hamill's&nbsp;fear of getting the Joker part, the joy of sci-fi fandom and, of course, Star Wars.</p><p> On the latter, here's a nugget from his discussion about&nbsp;non-disclosure agreements and&nbsp; <em style="background-color: initial;">that</em> plot twist in The Empire Strikes Back. Spoilers ahead if you haven't seen the original trilogy.&nbsp;</p><p> "I have something coming out where there's an amount of money that if it leaks because of me, I don't get that payment. If I keep it a secret until the day&nbsp;it comes out, I get that payment.</p><p> "I'm good about keeping secrets. I'm proud of the fact that I knew a year and a half before anybody else that he was actually dad-Vader. I didn't even tell Harrison, or my wife, because I thought it would be terrible if she said "you know what" to a fan and it got out, because [Empire Strikes Back director] Irvin Kershner said 'I know something, I'm going to tell you. George [Lucas] knows, I know and now I'm gonna tell you, and if it leaks, we'll know it's you', because the line originally was 'you don't know the truth, Obi Wan killed your father' and he said 'we're going to take that line out and put in 'I am your father'.</p><p> "I thought, well first of all if Sir Alec Guinness is the real villain, that's a pretty good twist in and of itself, but this is even better. I couldn't believe it. I was so excited. It was a mind-boggling plot twist."</p><p> In Star Citizen's Squadron 42 single-player module, Hamill stars as Lt. Commander Steve 'Old Man' Colton&mdash;reuniting him with Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts. More details on Squadron 42 will be revealed on Star Citizen's <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/starcitizen">Twitch channel</a> today. There's plenty more from the cast and Star Citizen's creators in the next issue of PC Gamer, out in the UK November 20 (tomorrow!), and December 8th in the US. Here's a peek at the UK cover:</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2eOZT4IYQYeB.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ajp3YSOKmp2k.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Citizen PCG cover"></p> Asus Strix R9 380X OC Reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/asus-strix-r9-380x-oc-review/Looking for a mid-range affordable card? AMD has your back bro.Thu, 19 Nov 2015 14:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/asus-strix-r9-380x-oc-review/AMDASUSRadeon <p>Five billion transistors, 2048 shader cores, 32 ROPs, 128 TMUs and 4GB of GDDR5 RAM, all sat on top of a cushy 256-bit memory bus. Yep, that’s what you’ll find buried inside of AMD’s latest GPU. Throw in some of Asus's handiwork in the form of a DirectCU II cooler and an after-market PCB on top of that, and you’re looking at a card capable of reaching a comfy&nbsp;core frequency around the 1030 MHz mark. Just enough to make 1080p butter smooth for $250 or £200.</p><p>The 380X isn't a brand new graphics processor, though. In fact, it hearkens back to the launch of AMD's R9 285 and the Tonga GPU (GCN 1.2) in September 2014. The eagle-eyed among you will also spot that this particular revamped GPU features 256 more shader cores than AMD's first foray into the Tonga graphical processor. This is actually quite interesting; our theory is that the fully implemented core used in the 380X was originally intended to be the R9 285X, with the 285 being a stripped down version. Due to time constraints, marketing pressure or product timelines, similar to what happened with Intel’s delayed Broadwell CPUs, we never saw the 285X make it to market. A year after the release of the R9 285, the R9 380X joins the rest of the 300 series refreshes as a better performing, fully unlocked Tonga processor.</p><h4>Core Comparisons</h4><table><tbody><tr><td></td><td style="text-align: center;"><strong>AMD R9 390</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;"><strong>AMD R9 380X</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;"><strong>AMD R9 285</strong></td></tr><tr><td><strong>Shader Cores</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">2560</td><td style="text-align: center;">2048</td><td style="text-align: center;">1792</td></tr><tr><td><strong>ROPs</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">64</td><td style="text-align: center;">32</td><td style="text-align: center;">32</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Core Clock</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">1000 MHz</td><td style="text-align: center;">970 MHz</td><td style="text-align: center;">850 MHz</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Memory Clock</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">6 GHz</td><td style="text-align: center;">5.5 GHz</td><td style="text-align: center;">5.5 GHz</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Memory Bus</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">512-bit</td><td style="text-align: center;">256-bit</td><td style="text-align: center;">256-bit</td></tr><tr><td><strong>VRAM</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">8GB</td><td style="text-align: center;">4GB</td><td style="text-align: center;">2GB</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Onboard Power</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">250W</td><td style="text-align: center;">195W</td><td style="text-align: center;">195W</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Architecture</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">GCN 1.1</td><td style="text-align: center;">GCN 1.2</td><td style="text-align: center;">GCN 1.2</td></tr></tbody></table><h3>Still impressive</h3><p>This may be year-old hardware, but that original Tonga GPU still has a lot to give. Think of Tonga then as a stripped down, more power efficient Fiji core. Thanks to some impressive changes to the manufacturing process and overall design, AMD's managed to reduce Fiji's egg-frying power requirements, without compromising on the most important factor: overall performance per watt. At the time this made Tonga a fantastic GPU solution for smaller form factor builds. Requiring less power and touting a far lower TDP than the R9 290 and 290X, it was quite common to see these cards pop up in ITX sized cards.</p><p>Now with AMD's R9 Nano taking centre stage in the world of ITX builds, the R9 380X finally has the opportunity to cement itself as a fully fledged graphics card, with a full core complement and a higher clock frequency than its predecessor.</p><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">AMD r9 285</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TUXnVAsrSfmb.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YgaAWalp-hTW.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Sapphire R9 285 Compact"></p></div><h3>Power Consumption and design thoughts</h3><p>The R9 380X still functions off two 6-pin power connectors. In our test system, even at full load we only managed to pull a total of 198W from the wall, and 254W when we overclocked it to the limit. If you’re still looking to build a smaller setup, and need a cheap affordable graphics card to power your miniature behemoth, the R9 380X certainly fits the bill.</p><p>Alas the biggest criticism of AMD's R9 380X revolves around the bus. It’s still stuck on the 256-bit memory bus, and could’ve used an increase up to 384-bit for the sake of additional bandwidth. Although without increasing both the number of shader cores and ROPs as well, there would be little to no point in changing over from that 256-bit AMD staple anyway. All in all, we just wanted a little more from this card at its price point.</p><h3>1080p &amp; 1440p&nbsp;performance</h3><p>For $250 you'd expect to be able to game quite comfortably at 1080p, and that’s what the R9 380X delivers. In our testing we found that in the majority of AAA games we could roughly hit the 50-60fps mark at 1080p and maximum settings. Obviously some games like GTA V will take that down a few notches, but all in all it sit's comfortably there. My problem here lies with how AMD is selling this card to us. According to the boys in red, it's a true entry level GPU to gaming at 1440p.</p><p>Now I don't know about you, but 25 - 35 fps isn't what I consider a comfortable gaming experience, and certainly not at Quad HD. Out of our entire suite of benchmarks only three games got above that 35fps barrier, and even then, only one of them hit the sweet spot that is 60fps. Ironically, the game that did seem to pull ahead of the others for us was Batman: Arkham Knight; raking in a stunning 47fps at 1440p.</p><p>The 380X doesn’t come close to delivering 60 fps in modern, demanding AAA games at those resolutions, but honestly, we know those aren’t the only games out there. Hell, my most played games range from Minecraft, to WoW, to Kerbal Space Program. And for those sorts of games, you're going to experience a perfectly enjoyable 1440p experience.</p><h4>1080p Benchmarks (Min / Avg fps)</h4><table><tbody><tr><td></td><td><strong>Asus Strix R9 380X</strong><br></td><td><strong>Gigabyte Windforce 3 GTX 970</strong></td></tr><tr><td><strong>World of Warcraft&nbsp;</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">125 / 196</td><td style="text-align: center;">204 / 256</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Attila Total War</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">26 / 33</td><td style="text-align: center;">38 / 47</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Project Cars&nbsp;</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">30 / 35</td><td style="text-align: center;">37.6 / 43.1</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt&nbsp;</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">23 / 37</td><td style="text-align: center;">18 / 55</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Shadow of Mordor&nbsp;</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">26 / 57</td><td style="text-align: center;">47 / 70</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Star Citizen: Hangar Walk&nbsp;</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">33 / 46</td><td style="text-align: center;">36 / 55</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Batman: Arkham Knight</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">47 / 75</td><td style="text-align: center;">63 / 92</td></tr><tr><td><strong>3D Mark: Firestrike&nbsp;</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">8,106</td><td style="text-align: center;">10,297</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Heaven&nbsp;</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">8 / 44</td><td style="text-align: center;">28 / 66</td></tr></tbody></table><h4></h4><h4>1440p Benchmarks (Min / Avg fps)</h4><div><table><tbody><tr><td>&nbsp;</td><td><strong>Asus Strix R9 380X</strong></td><td><strong>Gigabyte Windforce 3 GTX 970</strong></td></tr><tr><td><strong>World of Warcraft&nbsp;</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">94 / 122</td><td style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;115 / 159</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Attila Total War&nbsp;</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">16 / 22</td><td style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;23 / 31</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Project Cars&nbsp;</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">20 / 24</td><td style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;26 / 29</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt&nbsp;</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">22 / 26</td><td style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;23 / 38</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Shadow of Mordor</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">19 / 38</td><td style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;35 / 43</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Star Citizen: Hangar Walk&nbsp;</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">16 / 24</td><td style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;17 / 41</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Batman: Arkham Knight</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">27 / 47</td><td style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;39 / 62</td></tr><tr><td><strong>3D Mark: Firestrike Extreme&nbsp;</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">4,041</td><td style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;5,337</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Heaven</strong></td><td style="text-align: center;">7 / 27</td><td style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;8 / 39</td></tr></tbody></table><p><em>All tests were performed with an Intel Core i7-6700K, 16GB of Crucial Ballistix Elite 2400MHz DDR4, a Be Quiet 1200W Dark Power Pro Platinum PSU&nbsp;</em><em style="background-color: initial;">and&nbsp;a 2TB Samsung 850 Pro SSD.*</em></p></div><h3></h3><h3>Where does this card honestly sit?&nbsp;</h3><p>At this price point, the R9 380X interestingly has no competition. It seems designed and positioned to be a response to Nvidia’s GTX 960 Ti...except there is no 960 Ti. There's not a single muttering of that card, or any other Titanium edition for that matter, coming from the Nvidia GPU foundries at all. If anything, it'd seem that with Pascal rumoured to be launching early to mid 2016 the company is focusing solely on that, allowing AMD the upper-hand in this particular section of the graphics audience.</p><p>However, it's something to bear in mind, if you're dropping £200 on a card, do you really want to skimp out that extra £30 and not just buy yourself a R9 390 instead?</p><h3>Overclocking Majesty</h3><p>Now we've got all that boring gaming stuff out the way, let's talk about how this card performs once Asus has had their hands on it. The reference AMD R9 380X comes with a standard GPU core clock of around 970 MHz, and 5500 MHz frequency on the memory. Straight out of the factory, Asus, with the help of a new, fully-automated custom PCB, and their almost legendary DirectCU II cooler, throw another 60 MHz on that as standard. Switch on GPU Tweak II and activate the overclocked setting and that figure will bump its way up another 20 MHz, giving you a total of 80 MHz on top of the standard card. It doesn't sound like a lot, but&nbsp;free performance is free performance right?</p><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">DVI Galore</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ff5JTFTOQ4ma.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/sqHlsB0XoWr8.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Asus Strix R9 380 Rear IO" style="background-color: initial;"></p></div><p>That's far from where this experience ends, however. If you're brave enough to delve deep into the heart of Asus's GPU Tweak II software (and by this we mean click advanced settings), you can easily blow that overclock wide open. In our testing we achieved a max stable overclock of 1165 MHz on the core clock (+115 MHz over Asus's stock), and 6500 MHz (+800 MHz) on the memory clock, utilising 1293 mV on the GPU core voltage and with the power target ramped up to 120%</p><p>Come one, come all, all ye naysayers. In games we saw this improve our average frame rates by 4-5fps, more noticeable at 1080p than 1440p or higher, but honestly if you're running this card at 4K you've lost your proverbial marbles.</p><h3>Fan Noise &amp; Temperature</h3><p>Besides all of those fancy numbers and overall frame-wrenching improvements we didn't see a huge increase in temperature or overall fan speed, even at some of the more aggressive overclocks we tried. </p><p>At default the card does run pretty toasty. Asus's latest generation of Strix cards include 0dB fan technology as standard, ensuring that the dual fan setup doesn't start to spin up until the card is actually being pushed severely in game. What this does mean is you're left with a GPU that can easily run at 40-50 degrees C on desktop without much trouble. That being said it’s hardly detrimental to the GPU or your everyday running costs either, although it may increase overall internal case temperatures.</p><p>Rather impressively, when we did push the GPU particularly hard we only noticed a load temperature of a maximum 64 degrees C, and even after some severe overclocking that only increased to 69. No doubt this is in thanks to Asus's triple heat pipe solution. It's important to point here that this card is big. Something we're seeing more often with Asus's latest cards is an increase in height as opposed to length. Although that sounds bad, this does seem to be adding additional surface area, allowing for greater heat dissipation from those mighty twin fans, but if you're worried about your side window touching this monster you ought to check out the dimensions before you commit to a purchase.</p><h3>Who is it for then?</h3><p> The 380X is is a very interesting mid-range card. It definitely outperforms the GTX 960 and the AMD R9 380, whilst equally falling short of the other side of that coin, with both the R9 390 and Nvidia's GTX 970 running rings around it. And that puts us in a bit of a conundrum as to where to actually place it. It's just not ready for the majority of 1440p gaming. But if you are looking for a top of the line 1080p, 60fps, low-powered gaming card, the R9 380X is a solid and dependable choice.</p><p> For price to performance, for the time being at least, it's unmatched. However for £30-40 you could easily slip into that next echelon of GPU heaven, where 2560x1440 gaming becomes less of a dream and more a reality.</p><p> *<em style="background-color: initial;">We understand the GTX 970 is a non-contest card, it's merely here for comparison's sake until a time where we can fully&nbsp;complete our benchmark and graph overhaul. Thank you for your patience, this article will be updated as soon as our benchmarking validation is complete.</em></p> How to find a complete X-01 power armor set in Fallout 4http://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-find-a-complete-x-01-power-armor-set-in-fallout-4/The iconic, powerful armor is actually pretty easy tonab.Thu, 19 Nov 2015 00:50:57 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-find-a-complete-x-01-power-armor-set-in-fallout-4/Fallout 4RPG <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9gXyJy5nQGuX.bmp" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-Ei4-OOeAZyo.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout X01 How To (2)"></p><p><em>[Update: I've been told that dice rolls might determine the set of armor you get. Post level 26, it's more likely to be X-01, but may vary. Of the four times I tried, it was a full X-01 suit. Be sure to save beforehand in case you don't get what you're looking for.]</em></p><p>The default power armor in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4/" target="_blank">Fallout 4</a> might as well be made of wet cardboard. A few mines, a couple of&nbsp;precise shots to the chrome&nbsp;kneecaps,&nbsp;and those&nbsp;hunks of junk disintegrate like a saltine in hot soup. But that salty, savory taste? It’s blood, imaginary blood, because the armor did diddly besides bring your fashion level up a few measly notches. Luckily, there’s a way to take care of not-dying and power armor sex appeal in a quick, relatively difficult journey once you hit level 26 or so.</p><p> The X-01 armor may look familiar to Fallout fans, likely because it’s featured on the box art for&nbsp;<a href="http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Fallout_2" target="_blank">Fallout 2</a>. Those with the entirety of the Fallout lore over-encumbering their mental&nbsp;inventory will also know that the armor has&nbsp;<a href="http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Enclave" target="_blank">Enclave</a> associations, but it usually just poses as high-level or rare gear in each game. Before I found it in Fallout 4, I rarely used power armor, but now I never want to be out of it. My suit looks cool and takes much, much more damage before repairs are required. Here’s how to get your own.</p><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">x-01 location</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2EBCaJO_Qx2y.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ayNILYnAAHSD.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout X01 How To (3)" class="hoverZoomLink"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/JZODU8IKRc28.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/CGmdAvHzAQUM.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout X01 How To (1)" class="hoverZoomLink"></p></div><h3>Where to go</h3><p> Once you’re out of the vault and level 26 or so, it’s possible to find the X-01 suit. Players have reported that the suit won’t spawn before then, though you can still find another suit of power armor at the location in this guide regardless of your level. It just won’t be as neat. Don’t you want power armor with eyes that glow?</p><p> The armor is located on a rooftop not far from the eastern coast. It's not a marked location, but is easy to find if you head east from Good Neighbor&nbsp;until you reach a building called "Custom House Tower". From the Custom House Tower, turn west until you see a turquoise building. Circle the building until you find its only entrance. A sign should read "35 Court". When you find it, go&nbsp;inside, look left and you should see an elevator. Head on up.</p><p><img class="gfyitem" alt="ConfusedSaltyAndeancondor (gfyCat video) " data-id="ConfusedSaltyAndeancondor" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><h3>'Shut down' some bots</h3><p> Once you’re upstairs, you’ll should see three doors. The center door contains our treasure, it's locked tight. After a moment, some lights will flash and&nbsp;an Assaultron and a Sentry Bot will emerge from each side door. If you’re not specced out to do tons of damage to angry metal people or you’re barely level 26, it can be a tough fight. Good thing it’s so easy to cheese enemies in Fallout 4.&nbsp;</p><p>To easily take care of the robots, I ran off the ledge opposite the main door and onto a small overhang. The robots followed, so I navigated around the corner to out of their line of fire, hopped off the ledge to the ground level (consider taking some Med-X and quicksaving), and ran back upstairs. Now&nbsp;it’s possible to chip away at the robots’ health from above. The term ‘artificial intelligence’ carries layers of meaning here.</p><p><img class="gfyitem" alt="AliveFineKiwi (gfyCat video) " data-id="AliveFineKiwi" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><h3>Ogle at the armor</h3><p> When they're done for, you'll have to press a button in each of the robot closets to open the center door. After a few dramatic mechanical noises, the center door will open, and you can claim the new suit. Be sure to jump off the roof and play with the flashlight eyes as soon as possible. Once you're tired of clapping your hands together, take a look at the X-01's stats (and clap some more).&nbsp;</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/AAsNe0XQQHCe.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ssma8IDTnpJU.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="X01 Block"></p><p> Congratulations, hip owner of the X-01 power armor. Enjoy exploring the wasteland with flashlight eyes and ice&nbsp;cool aesthetic. The extra safety is a nice perk too, I guess. And that taste in your mouth? It’s not blood. It’s nothing. Enjoy it, because when a few suicidal supermutants decide to hug you close and explode right up in your metal grill, nothing sure tastes good.</p><p><img class="gfyitem" alt="AcrobaticEthicalGander (gfyCat video) " data-id="AcrobaticEthicalGander" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p> The Frankfurt Major's most next-level play so far is Dota at its besthttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-frankfurt-majors-biggest-play-so-far-is-dota-at-its-best-and-weirdest/Genius can be subtle, but it's still genius.Wed, 18 Nov 2015 23:19:04 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-frankfurt-majors-biggest-play-so-far-is-dota-at-its-best-and-weirdest/Dota 2esportsMOBAPro <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_SP8uCNjT6yH.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/W5kEQC1ihk-o.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Windranger"></p><p> Tonight’s upper bracket series between Vici Gaming and Team Secret was crazy. These are two of the world’s best teams with some of the very best individual players, and even so the standard was extraordinary. After a close first game that Vici ultimately took command over, Secret brute-forced a 2-1 result in their favour through a mixture of bravado, cheese, and whatever the opposite of tilting is. I'd strongly recommend watching the whole series: the VOD isn't available at the time of writing, but <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/dotamajor">here's the Twitch link</a> anyway.</p><p> I don’t want to talk about the whole series, though. I want to talk about this:</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="OffbeatUnrealisticDromedary (gfyCat video) " data-id="OffbeatUnrealisticDromedary" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><p><em>Gfycat from <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/DotA2/comments/3tbwtd/w33s_antismoke_play/" target="_blank">this thread</a> by redditor /u/handofskadi.</em><br> </p><p>This is one of the most next-level things I have ever seen a Dota player do. It is also, I appreciate, almost completely impenetrable to somebody who hasn’t invested time into this strange, brilliant game. For me, it’s a reminder of why Dota is so extraordinary and why&mdash;despite looking like other games in its ostensible genre&mdash;it remains completely unique.</p><p> The player you’re watching in the gif above is w33 from Team Secret. He’s controlling that blue archer lady with the green trail, running back and forth at the top of the stairs. That isn’t actually his hero&mdash;who is elsewhere&mdash;but an illusion of his hero, a duplicate that looks exactly like him but can be controlled separately and has next to no health or damage potential. The semi-transparent dragons and sea monsters and swordsmen running past amount to the entirety of Vici Gaming. Got it? Okay.</p><p> At the very highest level of play, the ‘probability space’ of a given Dota game begins to narrow out. There are very rarely ‘optimal’ decisions that a player or team can make, but there are certainly logical ones&mdash;strategies that teams might be expected to deploy, anticipate from their opponent, and so on. One example of this revolves around the use of Smoke of Deceit.</p><p> Every team has a limited (but regenerating) supply of Smoke of Deceit that they can purchase for gold. Using it grants every ally in an AoE a limited period of invisibility, and unlike regular invisibility Smoke of Deceit can’t be detected by Sentry Wards or Gems of True Sight. Instead, Smoke invisibility breaks when the user enters a certain radius from an enemy hero&mdash;the hero themselves, mind, not any of that hero’s pets or illusions or allied creeps.</p><p> Good players learn to anticipate a Smoke of Deceit and avoid it. If the enemy is behind or there’s an important objective they need to take and they’re all suddenly not on the map any more, it’s a good time to play safe. Very good players learn to anticipate the direction that a likely Smoke of Deceit attack will come from and avoid that specific area&mdash;again, it’s a matter of understanding the probability of certain decisions. The best players can anticipate both the timing and direction of a Smoke and actively play against it.</p><p> w33 did all of that and then some. He not only anticipated the timing and direction of Vici Gaming’s Smoke of Deceit use, he derived a way to do the impossible: to prove without doubt that it was happening long before Secret were in any danger, to reduce the chance that his judgement was wrong to zero.</p><p> See, Smoke of Deceit isn’t broken by running past enemy units, but the heroes it renders invisible are still physical objects in the world. They still block unit pathing. When w33 found an Illusion rune and spawned two copies of his hero, he used one of them in a completely unique way: he sent it into the enemy jungle, to the top of a flight of stairs that Vici were likely to pass through if they attempted a Smoke of Deceit attack. He then gave the illusion multiple queued movement commands, forcing it to run back and forth at the top of those stairs multiple times. Then he kept an eye on it.</p><p> The moment Vici Gaming pass, covered by Smoke of Deceit&mdash;that’s the transparency effect&mdash;they’re not revealed by the illusion. But they do cause the illusion’s pathing to momentarily fail. It hitches as it hits first iceiceice’s Tidehunter and then Fenrir’s Winter Wyvern, proving that <em>something</em> has obstructed it even if that something is invisible. You see w33’s green map pings come out shortly after: <em>Vici Gaming are here, and they’ve used Smoke.</em></p><p> It’s genuinely brilliant, and it’s only possible because Dota 2 is fundamentally a game about systems rather than fixed rules. You might come up with rules to help you learn, and rules help you understand the metagame, but the moment somebody decides to break them&mdash;when they reach back past the rules to the systems that support them and twist them to their benefit&mdash;that’s when you get real Dota. And that’s why all of the Dota people you know are freaking out about a transparent blue archer momentarily hesitating when it bumps into a half-invisible watermelon man. Esports!</p><hr><p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> A look back at the weird, terrible keyboards of 70s and 80s PCshttp://www.pcgamer.com/a-look-back-at-the-weird-terrible-keyboards-of-70s-and-80s-pcs/In the early days of personal computers, IBM, Tandy, and others created some truly terrible keyboarddesigns.Wed, 18 Nov 2015 21:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/a-look-back-at-the-weird-terrible-keyboards-of-70s-and-80s-pcs/GalleryHardwareKeyboards Choosing the right pistol in Counter-Strike: Global Offensivehttp://www.pcgamer.com/choosing-the-right-pistol-in-counter-strike-global-offensive/Sometimes, cheaper is better.Wed, 18 Nov 2015 20:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/choosing-the-right-pistol-in-counter-strike-global-offensive/Counter-Strike: Global OffensiveFPSProValve <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Yg611E1ASfOF.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oTjz9poasgy4.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="CSGO Pistol Guide Header"> </p> <p> </p> <p> Pistol rounds are among the most important rounds in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Winning your pistol rounds gives you an economic advantage that makes it much easier to take the following two rounds as well. In a game where the first team to get to 16 rounds wins, winning four rounds cheaply gives you a huge advantage. It’s also important to learn to use pistols so that you can take advantage of an ‘eco round’. Your opponent have just won a round and now you’re out of money. You can’t afford a complete loadout but you don’t want to throw a round away. This is the time to buy a pistol, some armor and be the John Wayne you know you can be! </p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7Qvzgj7-SLiR.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iKV6WrCmY-_y.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Csgo Usp-s"> </p> <h3>Counter Terrorist pistol choices</h3> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title" style="margin-left: 0px;">What's 'Aimpunch'?</h5> <p> When you get shot without armor, your screen will flick up slightly, making it hard for you to hit your target. </p> </div> <p> Choosing the correct pistol is just as important as knowing how to use it, so let’s get started with the buy phase. In the first round of either half you start off with $800. Currently, most professional players choose to use that money to buy kevlar with their default pistol. While I don’t think all professional strategies work in matchmaking, this way of starting the CT side is hard to argue with. The accuracy of the USPS-S makes up for the shortage of bullets and having kevlar removes the aimpunch,making it a great pistol setup. If you’re using the p2000 instead of the USP-s you’ll have enough bullets to keep your enemies at a distance, allowing your team to rotate to your bombsite. Make sure someone in the team buys a defuse kit! </p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/JZcCxuW4RLOO.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kTZ36USENc12.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="CSGO Tec-9"> </p> <h3>Terrorist pistol choices</h3> <p> The terrorist side isn’t much different than the counter terrorist side when it comes to pistols. Most players will want to simply buy armor and stick with their Glock-18. The Glock is a great weapon to ‘run and gun’ with which is what you’ll be doing a lot of the time as a terrorist. A popular strategy among both professional players and matchmakers is the ‘raid boss’ setup. One person buys armor while another player provides him or her with a Tec-9. They themselves buy a flash and a smoke, giving the team some utility. This way you end up with 4 armored players, one of which has a very strong pistol. </p> <h3>Eco rounds</h3> <p> Eco round buys are often decided ‘on the fly’ but there are some guidelines for you to follow as you decide what to go for. Because communication in matchmaking is often not much better than Twitch chat, your buys can be decided entirely by what the rest of your team is doing. If nobody buys, you’re best off following the group and saving for the next round. However, if all the planets do align and you get to buy a pistol, it’s up to you not to buy the wrong one. Buying a p250 is a cheap way to get a gun out of your opponent’s hands: it’s a great pistol for getting quick, close range kills. You can spam it quite rapidly or take your time and go for the single headshot. </p> <p> The Five-Seven is a second option on the CT side that offers you nearly the same pistol with a few more bullets per clip and higher armor penetration. The CZ75-Auto is a good gun for standing around a corner, waiting for someone to walk by and emptying a clip into the back of their head. The pistol is expensive, however, and it lacks bullets.Unless you have the perfect position for it, I would always buy the Five-Seven over the CZ. </p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HruO0oTIRKKq.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kd36kkg3FyX5.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="CSGO DesertEagle"> </p> <p> On the terrorist side, buying the Tec-9 feels like the obvious choice. Being able to empty a 24-bullet clip into your opponent as quickly as the Tec-9 allows can turn a round in your favour. Buying Dual Elites is almost always a mistake, which leaves us with the fan-favorite Desert Eagle. There is no better feeling in CS:GO than shooting someone in the head with a Desert Eagle using only your first shot. Taking out a player who has just invested $6000 in their loadout with a $700 pistol feels like killing an mammoth with a Super Soaker. Using the Desert Eagle is hard so for most players, however, that it’s not a worthy investment&mdash;but if you’re feeling lucky it won’t hurt to try it once in a while. </p> <h3>Scoring kills</h3> <p> The counter terrorist’s USP-s is freakishly accurate and will get you one-shot kills if you hit your helmet-less target in the head. The small clip size forces you to use your bullets carefullyso aim for the head and don’t spam too much unless you’re in a close range battle. The Glock-18 requires the opposite playstyle. This gun is perfect for running at your target, shouting obscenities and spamming your left mouse button. Only put the gun on burst mode (right click) if you’re going to attempt jump shooting and keep your crosshair on your opponent’s head at all times, only correcting for recoil. </p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title" style="margin-left: 0px;">What's a 'CHOKE'?</h5> <p> A choke is a hallway, tunnel, set of doors or otherwise narrow location that makes it hard for multiple people to walk through at the same time. </p> </div> <p> The p250 and the Five-Seven are played nearly identically. Because both these pistols can get one-shot headshot kills on close range&mdash;even against opponents with kevlar and a helmet -it’s a good idea to try to put yourself in 1v1 positions. You do this by standing around the corner from a choke location and aiming at head height. </p> <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/n-hmSsGm7nY" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"> </iframe> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">What's a 'Recoil Pattern'?</h5> <p> Every gun has its own recoil pattern. After firing your first bullet, your next bullet won’t land on the exact same spot. The pattern of where your bullets land on a full spray is what we call a recoil pattern. </p> </div> <p> The terrorists’s Tec-9 is a strong pistol for ‘running and gunning’. This gun’s recoil pattern&nbsp;is about as random as a best of one group stage so the best way to use the Tec-9 is by spamming it whenever you get close enough for your bullets to actually hit your target. When you do get close enough you have a very good chance of killing your opponent, regardless of which weapon they’re using. </p> <p> The Desert Eagle is less like a pistol and more like a tiny AWP. Wildly inaccurate when you’re moving, the Deagle requires you to come to a complete stop before firing off bullets that will instantly kill a helmeted player with a headshot, even from a long distance. For short range kills you can spam your deagle but the more time you give the pistol to reset to its default position, the more accurate your shots will be. </p> <h3>Improving quickly</h3> <p> You don’t get to play too many pistol rounds during a competitive CS:GO game so jumping into a pistol-only deathmatch server is a great way to improve your pistol play. Try only using the USP-s and aiming for the head and you’ll feel yourself get better every time you play. </p> <p> A good pistol player can hand their team two of the most important rounds of the game. A great pistol player can turn an entire game around and create some of the most beautiful moments we’ve seen in Counter-Strike history: </p> <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/dg6TQy6pGfs" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"> </iframe> <hr> <p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF! </p> The PC Gamer Show: guest Jesse Rapczak of Ark: Survival Evolvedhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-pc-gamer-show-guest-jesse-rapczak-of-ark-survival-evolved_Podcast/We discuss Fallout 4, Star Wars Battlefront, dinosaurs and lots more as we're joined by Ark: Survival Evolved co-creator Jess Rapczak.Wed, 18 Nov 2015 19:06:14 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-pc-gamer-show-guest-jesse-rapczak-of-ark-survival-evolved_Podcast/Ark: Survival EvolvedpodcastStudio WildcardThe PC Gamer Show Side Ops in Metal Gear Solid 5http://www.pcgamer.com/side-ops-in-metal-gear-solid-5/Why MGSV's distractions are the real reason it's such a great open world game.Wed, 18 Nov 2015 17:18:58 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/side-ops-in-metal-gear-solid-5/Metal Gear Solid 5Why I Love <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/CywZ1OJlTPSZ.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ADohhklj6GJ2.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Mgsvtpp 2015-09-03 23-43-22-13"></p><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">Why I Love</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/caPkLQFaQtK8.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VeBvHj87N_wX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="MGS5" style="background-color: initial;"></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, Sam puts aside the main quest in Metal Gear Solid 5.</p></div><p>After <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/metal-gear-solid-5-review/">I reviewed MGS5</a> in September, I needed a break from the game after about 50 unbroken hours with it in four days. I came back to The Phantom Pain a little later and hoovered up some bits and pieces I wanted to do, like finding the tent in a misty valley that plays recordings from doomed Silent Hills PS4 demo PT, or extracting specialists I knew I needed for certain weapons, or finally making the most of my extensive military vehicle collection by firing sky rockets at everything. The Side Ops give you compelling reasons to keep playing MGS5 long after the credits.</p><p>This past weekend I returned to MGS5 once more, during the launch week of Fallout 4, naturally. I played 16 hours of Side Ops at a gentle pace, and somehow it made me love MGS5 even more now than when I reviewed it. And I gave it 93%. By not being coupled to the urgency of the main story, the Side Ops give you scope to properly experiment with Snake’s toybox in how you tackle enemy bases, and manage to bring out the best in the game as a result, even if the objectives tend to be rote compared to those in the story. Usually you can completely fashion your approach to a situation, unless it’s capturing a bear&mdash;there you’ve pretty much got no option apart from firing 30 tranquiliser darts at its head without being gored to death. Even then you could lose your temper and call in an airstrike on the bear, I suppose. </p><p>In retrospect I was doing the Side Ops a disservice by rushing between. I’d always finish one, jump back in the helicopter and head to another drop point at another part of the world to do another. But really, Side Ops should be completed in geographical order rather than in the numerical order they’re presented as within MGS5’s iDroid menus. They’re meant to be treated like sidequests in an RPG like Skyrim&mdash;a natural detour in your journey around the world, a breadcrumb trail to lead you between adventures. The helicopter is too easy an option in MGS5’s world, even though it’s a necessary one, and removing the journeying aspect reminds me a bit of how I ended up using the cabs in GTA 4 too much instead of enjoying the city. </p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/je6NQRGDT86I.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/o_mcSeUCtpwW.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="MGS5"></p><p>The Side Ops are what make The Phantom Pain a great open world game. You’re meant to enjoy the drive between quests with your <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-vs-mgs-5-which-has-the-best-dog/">excellent dog</a> in the passenger seat, or galloping there on horseback&mdash;it’s a much more comfortably paced way to enjoy MGS5’s two colossal environments than always running for chopper pick-up points. Sometimes I pull over to collect plants, or shoot four guys guarding an outpost in the head, before climbing back into my jeep and running over a goat. It’s the best fun, and tells me that MGS5 doesn’t necessarily reach its full potential until you’re out of the gauntlet of main story missions.</p><p>They can also be genuinely rewarding in a way that sidequests frequently aren’t. It’s not unlike a Kojima Productions game to bury its secrets quite deep, but most of the coolest unlockable weapons are buried outside of the main story. I’m a long-time Kojima Productions fan, and for ages I’ve wanted Snake to wear the unlockable Jehuty robot hand from Zone of the Enders that allows you to drag enemies from a distance towards Snake. I’m not one for spoiling things with walkthroughs, so I only just unlocked that this past weekend&mdash;turns out you need to dart and extract a legendary bird (not the Pokémon kind) from next to a waterfall before you can research it. Obviously.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/W4bXfOfZRZSs.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/jV-ZzdKK7K5e.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="2015-09-02 00026"></p><p>Stumbling across that reward on my travels felt cool, if a little bit abstract, but the more time I spend doing the Side Ops on these long journeys, the more convinced I am that this is the way the game is meant to be played. MGS5 needs nothing more than the vaguest excuse for exciting things to happen: turn up to a place whenever you want, however you want, with the guns or ally of your choice and see what happens. The Side Ops are pure MGS5. There are well over a hundred of them. </p><p>I could play this game forever.</p> Win a rare Fallout 4 Pip Boy Editionhttp://www.pcgamer.com/win-a-rare-fallout-4-pip-boy-edition/Runners up will receive a Fallout 4 Steam key.Wed, 18 Nov 2015 17:02:29 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/win-a-rare-fallout-4-pip-boy-edition/Fallout 4GiveawaysRPG <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/yuTGB0puRCCF.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6BQg2Nt9rHCz.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 4 pip boy"> </p> <p> Would you like to own a wearable Pip Boy? This fashionable wasteland accessory has served survivors well in extremely challenging post-apocalyptic scenarios for many years. It's the centrepiece of the very hard-to-get Pip Boy Edition. You can even slot a smartphone into the screen space and run the Fallout 4 app for the full wasteland experience. </p> <p> We've teamed up with Bundle Stars to give one away. The Pip Boy Edition includes a copy of the game, of course, along with a Vault-tec perk poster, a pocket guide, a stand for your Pip Boy and a big protective case to keep them all in. Five runners up will win Fallout 4 Steam keys. </p> <p> To celebrate the launch of Fallout 4, Bundle Stars have launched a&nbsp; <a href="https://www.bundlestars.com/en/bundle/fallout-bundle">Fallout Bundle</a> that offers savings on five games and nine DLCs. It's part of the wider&nbsp;<a href="https://www.bundlestars.com/en/games">Bethesda sale</a>, which will offer deals and bundles with up to 75% discounts. </p> <p> To enter, follow the instructions in the widget below. Winners will be randomly&nbsp;picked on&nbsp;Monday November 23 at 5pm GMT. Good luck! </p> <iframe src="http://newcdn-images.bundlestars.com/production/gleam/gleam.html" name="frame1" scrolling="auto" frameborder="no" align="center" height = "870px" width = "500px"></iframe> </iframe> Star Wars Battlefront reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/star-wars-battlefront-review/Star Wars Battlefront is a thrilling, but ultimately shallow spectacle.Wed, 18 Nov 2015 12:27:52 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/star-wars-battlefront-review/ActionFPSReviewsStar Wars Battlefront <div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">NEED TO KNOW</h5><p><strong>What is it?</strong> Multiplayer-focused FPS set in the Star Wars universe.<br><strong></strong><strong>Expect to pay</strong> £50<br><strong></strong><strong>Release</strong> November 19<br><strong></strong><strong>Developer </strong>DICE<br><strong></strong><strong>Publisher </strong>Electronic Arts<br><strong></strong><strong>Reviewed on </strong>GeForce GTX 970, Intel i7-950, 16GB RAM<br><strong></strong><strong>Multiplayer </strong>Competitive (40 players), cooperative (2 players)<br><strong></strong><strong>Link </strong><a href="http://www.starwarsbattlefront.com">www.starwarsbattlefront.com</a></p></div><p>There are no Gungans here. No pouty teenagers talking about sand. No tedious conversations about the taxation of trade routes. This is proper Star Wars. Speeder bikes, Stormtroopers, and Imperial walkers. Han Solo, lightsabers, and sarlacc pits. Battlefront is the most successful attempt yet to recreate the look and feel of the original trilogy in a game, but as an FPS, it doesn’t quite live up to those stunning production values.</p><p>In the thick of a 40-player battle, with X-wings screaming overhead, John Williams’ score blaring, and laser fire criss-crossing the battlefield, Star Wars Battlefront can feel like the most exciting game ever made. Its large-scale battles are chaotic, breathless explosions of iconic Star Wars imagery, and it’s hard not to get swept up in the spectacle. You really do feel like you’re <em>in </em>the films. In that respect, it’s a triumph.</p><p>There are four planets to fight on, each of which contain several maps. There’s the desert world of Tatooine, the forest moon of Endor, the snowy plains of Hoth, and a volcanic planet called Sullust. Powered by DICE’s Frostbite engine, they all look fantastic&mdash;especially the dense foliage and towering trees of Endor. Maps include the crash site of a Rebel transport ship on Endor, Echo Base from the The Empire Strikes Back’s Battle of Hoth, and Tatooine’s Jundland Wastes. They’ve captured the lighting, atmosphere, colours, and general feel of the movie locations perfectly.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oc01b7qXSiu6.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7PzToV59BvX8.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Starwarsbattlefront 2015-11-17 15-13-26-77"></p><p>And they’re full of neat little fan-pleasing details too, like the Ewoks on Endor who scurry into their treehouses when you approach, Tusken Raiders on Tatooine watching battles from afar, and mouse droids squeaking around Imperial bases. It’s clear the environment artists at DICE love Star Wars. They’re superficial details, of course, but add to the game’s impressive authenticity. Every prop, from vehicles to random crates, look like they’ve been plucked straight from the films.</p><p>Multiplayer infantry combat is the main focus of Battlefront. There are nine modes, ranging from smaller 3-6 player matches, to all-out battles for up to 40 people. These include the brilliant, hectic Walker Assault, which sees the Imperials defending a pair of AT-ATs and the Rebels trying to destroy them. And Supremacy, in which two teams of 20 fight for control of five points on a large map. These are by far the best modes the game has to offer, mixing infantry and vehicle combat at a frantic pace.</p><p>Unlike in previous Battlefront games, vehicles are accessed by picking up spinning power-ups. Grab an X-wing icon, hold down the activate button, and after a few seconds&mdash;providing you don’t get shot&mdash;you’ll magically appear in the air. Being able to see a vehicle on the battlefield, jump in, and take off seamlessly would have been much more immersive, but for whatever reason, you can’t. Vehicles you can control include AT-ATs, AT-STs, A-wings, X-wings, and TIE fighters. And if you’re lucky enough to grab a hero power-up, you can fly Slave I or the Millennium Falcon.</p><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">PERFORMANCE</h5><p><strong>Reviewed on</strong>&nbsp;GeForce GTX 970, Intel i7-950, 16GB RAM<br><strong>Graphics options</strong>&nbsp;Resolution scale, graphics quality, texture quality, texture filtering, lighting quality, shadow quality, effects quality, post-process quality, mesh quality, terrain quality, terrain groundcover, anti-aliasing, ambient occlusion, vertical sync, field of view, refresh rate, motion blur amount<br><strong>Anti-aliasing</strong> Low, medium,&nbsp;high, or ultra<br><strong>Remappable controls</strong> Yes<br><br>On a&nbsp;GTX 970 with 16GB of RAM, Windows 10, and a relatively old i7, the game runs at a solid 60fps at 1080p&nbsp;with everything set to max. I was impressed that there was no shift in frame rate from the relatively empty Hoth to&nbsp;the busy, foliage-dense Endor.</p></div><p>This would be more exciting if the ship combat wasn’t basic to the point of feeling like a mini-game. There’s no weight or nuance to the flight model whatsoever, the differences between the ships are negligible, and the lock-on is so generous that it feels like it’s doing most of the work for you. This, combined with the weightless, floaty controls, reduces Star Wars’ famous dogfights to a joyless chore, and I’ve now reached the point where I just ignore starship power-ups if I see them. There’s a&nbsp;mode dedicated to ship combat, Fighter Squadron, but it’s a glorified shooting gallery.</p><p>It’s when you’re in the boots of a Stormtrooper or Rebel soldier that the game is at its best, but the infantry combat has a few problems of its own. The blasters look and sound amazing&mdash;exactly as they do in the films&mdash;but they feel lightweight and weedy. And with such memorable names as the RT-97C, A280C, CA-87, T-21, and SE-14C, it’s difficult to tell them apart. Some have a faster rate of fire, some are more powerful, some take longer to overheat, but they all feel vaguely the same. The moment-to-moment FPS combat lacks punch, which is a problem in a game that’s largely about shooting people.</p><p>It’s in the smaller modes like Blast (team deathmatch, basically) and Cargo (capture the flag) that the cracks begin to show. The Star Wars buzz wears off and you realise that you’re playing a completely rote, by-the-numbers multiplayer FPS. You’re on Tatooine, and there’s a sandcrawler over there, but you’re still just sprinting in circles, killing, dying, killing, dying. Earn XP, unlock a better gun, kill, die, kill, die. Outside of the big 40-player modes, Battlefront is disappointingly generic, and no amount of beautifully crafted, authentically recreated nostalgia can mask that.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/pjA-LEioTQWq.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/P2QukqILw96k.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Starwarsbattlefront 2015-11-17 14-24-54-45"></p><p>But it does have some ideas of its own, including the ability to play as a selection of famous Star Wars characters. The Empire gets Darth Vader, the Emperor, and Boba Fett, while Leia, Luke, and Han represent the Rebels. They have increased health, more powerful attacks, and unique powers including flying (Fett), force-choking (Vader), and dropping power-ups (Leia). I love watching players flee in terror as I approach them as Vader, but the heroes are far from invincible: it only takes the simplest of coordinated attacks by the opposing team to reduce their health to zero.</p><p>In Supremacy and Walker Assault, seeing Vader or Luke charging across the battlefield with their lightsabers glowing, or Boba Fett floating overhead launching rockets, is genuinely exciting, because it happens relatively rarely. But in Heroes vs Villains mode, where all six characters engage in battle at once, it just looks daft. I laugh every time the Emperor spins through the air like M. Bison doing a Psycho Crusher in Street Fighter&mdash;not helped by the fact that he sounds like Mr. Bean. With a few exceptions, the voice acting is terrible. Vader sounds like a man speaking into a pint glass, and Luke’s actor couldn’t sound less like Mark Hamill if he tried.</p><p>For £50, you don’t get much&mdash;and that price isn’t likely to fall any time soon. After 20 hours with the game, I feel like I’ve seen everything several times over. I’m bored of most of the maps, and only feel compelled to return to a handful of its nine modes. It feels like they’ve sliced the game in half to sell the rest as DLC, and the £50 they’re charging for the season pass is ridiculous. There’s little depth to uncover, which has really harmed its longevity for me. I don’t feel like my skills have developed in any meaningful way&mdash;as they would after 20 hours of something like Counter-Strike&mdash;because it’s so basic.</p><p>But games are for everyone, and not every player wants a super deep FPS to master. Battlefront is, for all its flaws, wonderfully accessible. It’s polished, easy to play, and the interface is simple and intuitive. They’ve created a game that anyone can play&mdash;from kids to adults&mdash;and that’s admirable. Everyone loves Star Wars, and Battlefront reflects that mainstream, cross-generational appeal. But the downside of chasing such a broad audience is that, as a competitive shooter, it’s fairly shallow.</p><p>It's a shame there's no single-player campaign either. A selection of fun&nbsp;missions that can be played in co-op or solo&mdash;a speeder bike chase through Endor, toppling AT-ATs on Hoth, invading Echo base as Vader&mdash;are proof that, if they were&nbsp;strung together with even a loose&nbsp;story, it&nbsp;could have worked. These missions, which replicate key scenes from the films with some artistic license,&nbsp;are among the most fun I had with the game&mdash;but there aren't enough of them.</p><p>Ultimately, the best rewards in Battlefront are the emotional ones: the thrill of weaving a speeder bike through the trees on Endor, seeing the twin suns of Tatooine, or watching Imperial walkers stomp across the Hoth snowfield. The addition of extra modes, weapons, heroes, and maps might improve the core shooter experience and give it some much-needed depth, but when it costs as much as the base game to get them, you have to question whether you’re willing to spend £100 to find out.</p> The best Fallout 4 modshttp://www.pcgamer.com/best-fallout-4-mods/Don't just wander the wasteland. Customize it.Wed, 18 Nov 2015 01:30:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/best-fallout-4-mods/Best ofBethesda SoftworksFallout 4ModsMust ReadRPG <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/n8zDt6aWTD-y.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/i9NaADyYYeYl.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4mod"></p><p> Some people play the game, others tinker with it.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4/">Fallout 4</a> has only just been released but modders are already hard at work on Bethesda's latest RPG, tinkering, tweaking, and reshaping the game.&nbsp;Official mod tools aren't due until next year, but here's&nbsp;the best of what we've seen so far.</p><p> Make sure you read installation instructions on each mod's page&nbsp;closely: many of them require command lines to be typed in the game's console to get them working.&nbsp;We'll be updating this page regularly as more mods arrive.</p><h2>Fallout 4 Configuration Tool</h2><p><a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/102/?"><strong>Download link</strong></a></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/KZaSk74QST-W.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/85Ns_KiJHpm-.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4mod"></p><p> Fallout 4 shipped without an option to alter your field of view. While there's a way to do it by editing an .ini file, The Fallout 4 Configuration Tool makes it much&nbsp;simpler. Launch it and you can punch in your custom FOV for both third- and first-person views. Then save, and it'll update your .ini file for you. The tool also allows other tweaks to mouse acceleration and sensitivity, the disabling of intro movies, tweaks to resolution, and more. Created by modder Bilago,&nbsp; <a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/102/?">you can download it here</a>.</p><h2>Higher Settlement Budget</h2><p><a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/818/?"><strong>Download link</strong></a></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/OYJTQYvYRfKL.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qi_6EQO-ELvB.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4mod"></p><p> The size of your Fallout 4&nbsp;settlements is restricted: they can only get so big and use so many objects. That stinks, though, if you're building a big 'ol base and suddenly have to stop. The Higher Settlement Budget mod&nbsp;fixes this. Once installed, a console code will remove the size restriction and let you keep building.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/818/?">You'll find it here, along with a short&nbsp;video tutorial</a> on how to set it up.</p><h2>Craftable Ammunition</h2><p><strong></strong><a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/1018/?"><strong>Download link</strong></a></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hO2-8yX5SduE.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3Hx96mbiDOcU.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4mod"></p><p> You can build a lot at your workstations, everything from&nbsp;weapon mods to medical items to grenades. Why not ammo? This mod lets you craft every single type of ammo in the game at your chemistry stations: shotgun shells, flares, mini&nbsp;nukes, flamer fuel, fusion cells... you name it, you can craft it. You'll still need higher level Gun Nut, Science, and Demolition perks to be able to craft the really powerful stuff.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/1018/?">Find it here</a>.</p><h2>Creature Follower Mod</h2><p><strong></strong><a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/696/?"><strong>Download link</strong></a></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PE3FPfJRSHe7.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BAIW82q3GZqp.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4mod"></p><p> You've probably already got a favorite Fallout 4 companion, but it doesn't hurt to add a few more names to the guest list. The Creature Follower Mod lets you pick from a number of new companions, including deathclaws, supermutants,&nbsp;synths, wild&nbsp;dogs,&nbsp;and those gross&nbsp;irradiated bears whose names I'm not sure how to pronounce. You can even have a cat follow you, though it won't do anything in combat. Typical lazy cats! After installation it just requires a couple console commands to summon your new pal.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/696/?">Find the mod and instructions here</a>.</p><h2>Rain of Brass</h2><p><strong></strong><a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/1097/?"><strong>Download link</strong></a></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Ej3B0dUoRN2p.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/X6VJHQxPJcya.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4mod"></p><p> Sometimes it's the little things that make the difference. This mod makes shell casings from firefights visible from greater distances (500 meters) and&nbsp;stay where they fall for longer (an hour). It's not a big change, but it adds a little realism to the game. After a big fight, the ground would be littered with shell casings, and now it will be.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/1097/?">Find the Rain of Brass mod&nbsp;here</a>. It&nbsp;might go nicely with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/1075/?">this mod that makes bullet impact decals longer-lasting</a> and visible at greater&nbsp;distances.</p><h2>FO4 Rain</h2><p><strong></strong><a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/267/?"><strong>Download link</strong></a></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/G_uWUiBrRy2J.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/S1QEmGPYN7Kq.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4mod"></p><p> Speaking of rain, someone has retextured Betheda's somewhat wimpy and barely visible raindrops. Now the droplets are thicker and chunkier, making you feel much more like you're in a post-apocalyptic downpour. The ripples caused when the raindrops hit water have also been retextured. You can&nbsp;<a href="https://youtu.be/96TPcnh4q_c">watch a comparison video here</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/267/?">download the mod itself here</a>.</p><h2>Lowered Weapons</h2><p><strong></strong><a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/522/?"><strong>Download link</strong></a></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/SgWwUDxeTWS9.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/K7roRLO3kcq1.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4mod"></p><p> Annoyed that your character, with his weapon drawn, will point it in front of him at all times when in first-person view? Seems like it would make your arms tired, frankly. This little immersion&nbsp;mod lowers your gun when you're not actively in combat but still have it in your hand.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/522/?">Grab it here.</a></p><h2>Stars&nbsp;Texture Overhaul</h2><p><strong></strong><a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/145/?"><strong>Download link</strong></a></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/wxke87RqTMKM.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/JS3tKxuH285B.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4mod"></p><p> Stars have been upgraded from 1K to 4K resolution, making them brighter, crisper, and even giving&nbsp;them a bit of a glimmer when you're moving around the wasteland. You can choose from a few different versions of the mod, one which adds a few bigger&nbsp;and brighter&nbsp;stars, making the sky a little more interesting in the evenings.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/145/?">Find it here</a>. The same modder&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/160?">has also re-textured the moon</a>.</p><h2>Enhanced Wasteland Preset</h2><p><strong></strong><a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/40/?"><strong>Download link</strong></a></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/awOhESQEQGyB.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HzxGyzSw6Tc1.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4mod"></p><p> While the look of Fallout 4 is certainly more colorful and less greenish than Fallout 3 was, it's still a bit washed out. This ReShade/SweetFX preset brings more color an vibrancy&nbsp;to the surface. You can check out&nbsp; <a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/40/?">some before and after pictures here</a>, which demonstrate that the changes aren't especially drastic but still make the visuals pop quite a bit more.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/40/?">Download and installation instructions here</a>.</p><h2>Stalker Lighting</h2><p><strong></strong><a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/86/?"><strong>Download link</strong></a></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/poyAXseBTCii.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/dqXWYyUAF1-j.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4mod"></p><p> On the other hand, maybe you don't think the post-apocalypse should be quite so vibrant&nbsp;and colorful. Stalker Lighting bleeds away the colors, making the world look more harsh, more unforgiving, more bleak.&nbsp;It is the end of the world, after all. Now it'll actually look like it.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/86/?">Find it here</a>.</p> Game of Thrones review (season one)http://www.pcgamer.com/game-of-thrones-review-season-one/Game of Thrones gets the feel of Martin's universe right, but it relies too heavily on familiar themes to form a memorable identity of its own.Wed, 18 Nov 2015 00:48:01 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/game-of-thrones-review-season-one/AdventureGame of ThronesReviews <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">need to know</h5> <p> <strong>What is it?</strong> A six-episode Telltale adventure that takes place in the Game of Thrones universe. <br> <strong>Expect to pay:</strong> $30/£23 for the six-episode season <br> <strong>Developer:</strong> Telltale Games <br> <strong>Publisher:</strong> Telltale Games <br> <strong>Reviewed on:</strong> Windows 10, 16GB RAM, GeForce GTX 780 <br> <strong>Multiplayer:</strong> None <br> <strong>Link:</strong>&nbsp;<a href="https://www.telltalegames.com/gameofthrones/" target="_blank">Official site</a> </p> </div><p> Far into the first season of Telltale's Game of Thrones series, one of the characters looks up to find the constellation he's been searching for right where it needs to be. There's no Tolkienesque waiting for a particular moon cycle or time of night; it's as though it never moves. It's a telling event, as much of the season is wrapped up in the same sense of inevitability. Time and time again, I tried to alter its soul-crushing scenarios in my favor through onscreen prompts and swift decisions, but my troubles seemed as destined to fall into place as those stars in the chilly skies north of The Wall. It ultimately makes for an unsatisfying overall experience despite a handful of high marks&mdash;Game of Thrones ends up being one of Telltale's weakest recent efforts.</p><p> Don't know what The Wall is? You'll need to, as this is no country for uninitiated George R.R. Martin converts. It boldly assumes you know the significance of terms like "Valar morghulis" and events like the Red Wedding. (For that matter, it assumes you know the dance of onscreen hotkey prompts for actions and timed dialogue choices common to Telltale's story adventure games.) It's a smart approach overall, as it lets the plot slip on a coat of intrigue and action immediately rather than tripping over wasted hours of exposition. What's more, it's particularly fertile ground for the introduction of entirely new characters without any connection to the HBO show that Telltale draws its inspiration from.&nbsp;</p><p>Enter House Forrester. An offhand mention in A Dance with Dragons technically makes them canon, but Telltale wisely uses that flimsy foundation to mold them into a notable northern house that supplies tough "ironwood" from the sequoia-like glades that surround their vaguely Viking keep of Ironrath. The art team in particular has fun with this concept with varying success. I never grew tired of the way the shadowy, wooded setting contrasted with the often barren vistas of the HBO show, and I usually admired the painterly visuals used for the backgrounds even when they clashed with the more familiar Telltale designs for the human characters.</p><p>As for the Forresters themselves? If only their characterizations were as original as their surroundings. I'm more than a little convinced I could describe them individually to a casual watcher of the HBO series and leave them thinking I was talking about the Starks. There's Forrester squire Gared Tuttle, who joins the Night's Watch and frolics with wildlings just like Jon Snow. There's a matriarch who could work as a body double for Catelyn Stark, and a young girl in King's Landing who's basically Sansa Stark with an edge. This servile mirroring of the Starks' tragic tale makes Telltale's few more-or-less original additions all the more appealing, as in the case of the Star-Lord-esque Asher Forrester and his endlessly likeable sellsword companion Beskha. Asher and Beskha's adventures hint at what could have been, but the season overall leaves a bitter aftertaste of Stark déjà vu.</p><p>This reliance on the familiar especially poses problems in the appearance of well-known characters from the series (each voiced by their HBO actors). They work best in cameo, as in the case of a tense meeting with Cersei Lannister that still makes me shudder months later. But one infamous jerkwad in particular sticks his sadistic nose into the rivalry between the Forresters and the neighboring Whitehills for several episodes, and the plot tension suffers from the knowledge that he's not going anywhere soon. He's still kicking on HBO, so no matter how cruel or disgusting he gets, I know all too well I can't end his crap with a well-timed crossbow bolt or dagger thrust.</p><p>True to expectations, it's a brutal, vicious world Telltale crafts for us here. The great strength of the season is its method of adding a personal layer to choices that affect the lives of hundreds &mdash; something you won't get in either books or the HBO series. In theory, we're actual players in the game of thrones. It's one thing to watch or read about Ned Stark's choices and argue about what he should have done; it's quite another to discover what you actually end up doing on the spot. And true to form, the series throws some gut punches that initially left me frantically attempting to figure out what I could have done to avoid its Aeschylean tragedies.</p><p>But of course, as it turns out, not much. The cast may change, the words may shuffle, but eventually Game of Thrones succumbs to that now-classic Telltale awareness that your choices don't really matter. The tendency stings less in games like Tales from the Borderlands, but it's especially damning here as the appeal of the Forrester saga partly rises from the hope that Martin's horrors could have been avoided if we'd been in charge. That's to say nothing of the other troubles, such as two advisers so opposed that they come off as political cartoons, entire sideplots that seemingly have little import for the main narrative, and a season finale that relies far too heavily on cliffhangers and unresolved threads.</p><p>I don’t regret my time with Game of Thrones. It captures the hopelessness of the main series well (although at times it threatens to venture into parody), and in the absence of any true resolutions, I appreciate that it let me vent my frustrations by ramming Valyrian steel through the skull of an insufferable asshole with the help of the usual button prompts and arrow keys. Deep down, I want to look forward to another season. I kind of want to finally see what's so special about the North Grove. But after almost a year of misery piled on misery and after months of placing my hopes on cliffhangers that lead to nothing substantial, right now I'm convinced that winter can't come for this world quickly enough.</p> The complete history of Star Wars on PChttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-complete-history-of-star-wars-on-pc/The light and dark sides of one of gaming’s great constants.Tue, 17 Nov 2015 21:38:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-complete-history-of-star-wars-on-pc/Star WarsStar Wars BattlefrontStar Wars Jedi KnightStar Wars: GalaxiesStar Wars: Knights of the Old RepublicStar Wars: Rogue SquadronStar Wars: The Force UnleashedStar Wars: The Old RepublicStar Wars: TIE FighterStar Wars: X-Wing <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/KGzwoKa5QIWO.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mpaWqT9DCIj9.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Vader"></p><p> <em>This article was originally published in </em><em><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pc-gamer-uk-june-issue-star-wars-battlefront/">PC Gamer issue 279</a>. For more quality articles about all things PC gaming, you can subscribe now in the <a href="http://www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/gaming/pc-gamer-magazine-subscription/">UK</a> and the <a href="http://shop.futureus.com/subscriptions/pc-gamer-subscription.htmlsg=AFQjCNFwngYO2epGqJngcofj1QufuKAarA">US</a>.</em></p><p> Star Wars weaves itself in and out of the history of PC games, occasionally yielding genre-advancing greatness and sometimes coughing up the most mercantile dross you might ever regretfully buy.&nbsp;</p><p> The story of the games mirrors that of the film series as a whole. Sometimes, the link is obvious&mdash;as when the arrival of the prequel trilogy plunged the franchise into a dark new era. At other times, it’s more subtle. Star Wars games, particularly those on PC, did much to advance the notion that this galaxy far, far away was a real place, governed by real rules and principles&mdash;a setting that could be simulated, not just presented as pastiche. The best games actively enhance the source material rather than merely doing justice to it. As Disney&mdash;Star Wars’ new owner&mdash;moves away from traditional games towards browser and mobile, it’s an idea that might be lost. But if Star Wars has taught us anything, it’s that good wins out in the end&mdash;even if it becomes more machine than human along the way.</p><hr> <h2>Star Wars</h2><p><strong>RELEASED</strong> 1988 |&nbsp;<strong>DEVELOPER</strong>&nbsp;Atari /&nbsp;Vektor Grafix</p><h4> <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zof2sA3GSjSq.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/D4Px0UnKGd5k.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars 1988"></p></h4><p> Despite being a rudimentary rail shooter, it’s remarkable just how much the original vector-drawn Star Wars arcade game anticipated about later games. Later takes on the Death Star trench run had you blowing the tops off turrets in the exact same way you do here. Notable also for the clumsily&nbsp;digitised voice of Sir Alec Guinness.</p><hr> <h2>Star Wars: Return of the Jedi</h2><p><strong>RELEASED </strong>1988 | <strong>DEVELOPER</strong> Atari</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/w6VVL9CDTBSM.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6XZdn3ASQd0F.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Return of the Jedi 1988"></p><p> This follow-up to the Star Wars arcade cabinet uses a diagonal-scrolling isometric view to represent everything from a speederbike chase to the Millennium Falcon’s run at the second Death Star. The technique is stretched to its logical extreme when you find yourself dodging an endless stream of Ewok log traps as a questionably manoeuvrable AT-ST. It’s actually aged worse than its predecessor: while the original’s vector graphics make it feel like a crude forebear to the later, greater space combat sims, this just comes off as an attempt to jam as many Star Wars set-pieces as possible into Frogger.</p><hr> <h2>Star Wars: Rebel Assault</h2><p><strong>RELEASED </strong>1993&nbsp;| <strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER</strong> LucasArts</p><h4> <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/K-vlZMe7Qc22.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/sGObdDlDA5ch.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Rebel Assault 1993"></p></h4><p>In the dark times before somebody thought to make actual games about Star Wars, this is what you got: the rail-shooter framework strapped to the clumsiest excesses of ’90s FMV. I found it tremendously evocative at the time, and the pre-rendered visuals were stunning&mdash;but it’s aged worse than the fan-fic I wrote about it.</p><hr> <h2>Star Wars: X-Wing</h2><p><strong>RELEASED</strong> 1993 |<strong>&nbsp;</strong><strong>DEVELOPER</strong> Totally Games</p><h4><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uFAGRuwXQ5CZ.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/wm7G5eka0zO6.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars X-Wing 1993"></p></h4><p>To really understand the troubled duality of Star Wars gaming, consider that X-Wing and Rebel Assault came out in the same year. The former: crap FMV tied to a fidgety arcade game. The latter: an earnest attempt to simulate the actual devices and conflicts of the Star Wars universe. X-Wing was groundbreaking because it was a movie tie-in that not only respected the source material, but built upon it. Thousands of fans understand the workings of an X-Wing starfighter thanks largely to this game’s unusual attention to detail. This wasn’t just about being plonked down in a rudimentary rendition of a familiar scene: it was about actually getting to fl y one these beloved starfighters for yourself. Despite the crude visuals, it holds up today&mdash;the pixel rendition of an X-Wing cockpit is even lovely, if you squint. Newcomers should go straight to the sequels.</p><hr> <h2>Star Wars: TIE Fighter</h2><p><strong>RELEASED </strong>1994&nbsp;|&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER</strong> Totally Games</p><h4><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/yk6SVgj3QD6G.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Cz34J4slzavf.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars TIE Fighter 1994"></p></h4><p>Beyond picking up where X-Wing left off, this spacebased combat sim stands out for being among the first Star Wars games to confidently tell its own story and offer a different spin on the source material&mdash;presenting the Empire’s rank-and-file in a more positive light. Part of the golden age of the Expanded Universe.</p><hr> <h2>Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire</h2><p><strong>RELEASED </strong>1995&nbsp;| <strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER</strong> LucasArts</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vVGrDjMVTFmY.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/CWq0SU6XuXFs.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Rebel Assault II 1995"></p><p>I have an enduring affection for the overweight and middle-aged FMV X-Wing pilot who shows up half way through Rebel Assault II because I assume he’s someone’s dad. Beyond that, though, this is a dodgy fan-film strapped to a shooter where you pan left and right to make a photo of a rebel soldier shoot pop-up stormtroopers.</p><hr> <h2>Star Wars: Dark Forces</h2><p><strong>RELEASED</strong> 1995&nbsp;| <strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER</strong> LucasArts</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9CC_nApMS22_.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mu3FNLQLu0xl.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Dark Forces 1995"></p><p>Dark Forces and Rebel Assault II are another set of strange contemporaries. While indebted to Doom’s ‘rat in a maze with a gun’ formula, Dark Forces paid fresh attention to both telling a story and giving the player greater freedom of movement&mdash;including jumping, crouching, and free-look. Its attempts to tie-in to the story of the original trilogy are a little hamfisted, but the Kyle Katarn saga that begins here picked up a lot of fans over the course of its run. It remains playable today, particularly if you’ve got fond memories of the era of being totally lost in sprawling FPS levels. It is relentlessly grey and monotonous, mind&mdash;they weren’t joking when they called it ‘Dark’ Forces.</p><hr> <h2>Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter</h2><p><strong>RELEASED</strong> 1997&nbsp;|&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER</strong> Totally Games</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/UBIOVOIwQ_ya.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/MWDJ6EPPWwJx.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars X-Wing vs TIE Fighter 1997" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>Arguably the best of the series, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter boasts texture mapping, a huge array of multiplayer options and, via the Balance of Power expansion, substantial singleplayer campaigns. The AI is superior to X-Wing Alliance, too, so it’s worth returning to on that basis alone. A landmark Star Wars game.</p><hr> <h2>Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 1997&nbsp;| <strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER</strong> LucasArts</p><h4><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TOG9XtmIRUqo.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/OIEPrUcltkJJ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Jedi Knight Dark Forces 2 1997" style="color: rgb(154, 154, 154); font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;"></h4><p>An epochal Star Wars shooter, Dark Forces II pioneered the combination of firstperson blasting and third-person, acrobatic lightsaber combat. While ultimately eclipsed by its successors, the techniques and powers introduced here are incredibly important to Star Wars games as a whole. Your fond memories of Dark Forces II may not include the incredibly cheesy FMV, however. Presumably they switched to in-engine cutscenes for Mysteries of the Sith because there wasn’t any scenery left to chew. Better: the effort expended to realise a proper ‘Light Side/Dark Side’ system based on player actions.</p><hr> <h2>Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 1997 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>LucasArts</p><h4><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ki97_PCyTW6J.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/jjpxz-PbiJ9T.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Shadows of the Empire 1997" style="color: rgb(154, 154, 154); font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;"></h4><p>The proud history of finding ways to shoehorn new characters into every imaginable Star Wars sequence enters a new chapter in Shadows of the Empire, which opens with mercenary Dash Rendar fighting in the Battle of Hoth before variously rescuing Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. It’s a passable third-person action game that hasn’t aged particularly well, but at the time it was a pretty big deal&mdash;Shadows of the Empire is the Star Wars movie that never got made, a multi-pronged attempt to build interest in the series in the mid-’90s. Between the novel, comics and game it answered questions left hanging from the original trilogy, like ‘where did Luke get that green saber’ and ‘why does Dash Rendar have less personality than a frozen Han Solo.’</p><hr> <h2>Star Wars: Yoda Stories</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 1997&nbsp;| <strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER</strong> LucasArts</p><h4><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EUYuqAHETjWL.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/KhBPny_OiwOc.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Yoda Stories 1997" style="color: rgb(154, 154, 154); font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;"></h4><p>Part of LucastArts’ Desktop Adventures series, this was a set of puzzle rooms where you helped a bobble-headed Luke Skywalker rescue his friends from a variety of predicaments. Features a rare cameo by Indiana Jones, one of only two times LucasArts have&nbsp;made a joke about his resemblance to Han Solo.</p><p> <em><br> </em></p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-complete-history-of-star-wars-on-pc/#page-2"><em>On page two</em></a><em>&nbsp;we head into a worrisome time for Star Wars games: the turn of the century, and the arrival of the prequel trilogy.</em></p><h2>Star Wars: Supremacy</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 1998 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Coolhand Interactive</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Inq8Q-NmQf2n.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-UMBBS13isTd.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Supremacy 1998" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>A 4X strategy game, Supremacy (called Rebellion in the US) enabled you to steer either the Republic or the Empire through an alternative history of the Galactic Civil War. It’s a great idea on paper, but there are far better 4X games from the period&mdash;and far more interesting interpretations of the setting than ‘click on the text boxes’.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: Rogue Squadron</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 1998 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Factor 5 / LucasArts</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2XY8-md7Q9Gp.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/eEQGSGPw0yfF.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Rogue Squadron 1998" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>If the earliest Star Wars games split themselves between ‘themepark ride’ and ‘attempted simulation’, Rogue Squadron represents the two starting to come together. Its flight model is slow, heavy and arcade-derived, but the impressive (for the time) level of detail and dead-on sound mean that it hews closer to the proper space combat sims than the vast majority of console-first Star Wars games did. The campaign, similarly, straddles a line between feeling like a legitimate expansion of the universe and a series of too-familiar set-pieces. Its opening, particularly, is a little odd: an all-out attack by the Empire on a few square miles of Tatooine for no particular reason. That said, the story’s scope&mdash;spanning the Original Trilogy and beyond&mdash;is impressive, as is the large roster of ships.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 1998 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER</strong> LucasArts</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tcevfrJlRNKQ.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/UybjAs4XXCDg.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Jedi Knight Mysteries of the Sith 1998" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>A substantial, old-school expansion for Jedi Knight, Mysteries of the Sith sees the end of FMV&mdash;and with it, the end of an embarrassing era. The campaign amounts to more and more complex Jedi Knight, with larger set-pieces and a lightsaber available from the beginning. The opening, which sees you repel an Imperial invasion, was pretty exciting at the time.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars Millennium Falcon CD-ROM Playset</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 1998 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Hasbro Interactive</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TTUhU5SOThO3.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/w6GO937sVihh.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Millenium Falcon CD-Rom Playset 1998" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>A last gasp for the very worst of the ’90s, this came with a plastic Falcon cockpit that you stuck on top of your keyboard&mdash;ideally in front of the monitor&mdash;so that you could interact with a bunch of awful quicktime events overlaid on scenes from the original movies. It makes very little sense and functionally exists to sell plastic. Terrible. Also: for kids.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance</h2><p><strong>RELEASED </strong>1999&nbsp;|&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER</strong> Totally Games</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ONz75jzUQ4ah.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/XifidbXqAbH0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars X-Wing Alliance 1999" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>The Phantom Menace was released only three months after X-Wing Alliance. Not only is this one of the best Star Wars games ever made, but it’s one of the last games to be untainted by the prequel trilogy’s infantilising influence on the series as a whole. Here’s a sprawling new Star Wars story set during the events of the original trilogy, packed with detail in terms of the flight model and number of simulated ships, and in the small things that make it so replayable: cameo appearances by Slave I and the Millennium Falcon, the way missions spread from one sector to another via hyperspace jumps, the personal stories offset against the larger conflict. Its only weaknesses are those 3D cockpits, which have aged worse than the older 2D ones, and that awkward purple UI.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 1999 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Big Ape Productions</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ktybXtmCQkKF.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/JxHYdarLNMYp.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Episode 1 The Phantom Menace 1999" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>This is a movie tie-in console action game from the late ’90s, which tells you everything you need to know about the creative rigour it displays. It’s notable for two reasons: you can massacre a load of innocent Gungans, including children, and face no repercussions. Also, there’s a homeless person on Coruscant whose likeness is based on David Duchovny.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars Episode I: Racer</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 1999 | <strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER</strong> LucasArts</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/H3iqjBShRVmM.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oPj9qH3Nb1Wx.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Episode 1 Racer 1999" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>This game is basically the only reason you might be glad that The Phantom Menace exists. It’s a fast, stunning (for the time) and creative sci-fi arcade racer based on one of the longest toy adverts to run in cinemas before Michael Bay got his hands on Transformers. Scant reward for the death of your childhood, mind you.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: Force Commander</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 2000&nbsp;|&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>LucasArts / Ronin Entertainment</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zf8PighLTP2O.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0qIkVfOBg9Cd.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Force Commander 2000" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>Ambitious but rough around the edges, this was the first concerted effort to create a Star Wars RTS. The camera is the biggest issue&mdash;useless when zoomed in, and awkward even when pulled back. Still, it offers a rare opportunity to try out famed Imperial strategies like ‘march in a straight line’ and ‘lose the war’.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: Starfighter</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2001 | <strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER</strong> LucasArts</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cXeMTycTSIyN.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/lE_Xht9xKqfG.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Starfighter 2001" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>A Phantom Menace tie-in dogfighting game that broadly follows the patterns established by Rogue Squadron, Starfighter offers far less in terms of playable ships but provides a greater sense of speed and agility. Terrible voice acting, although it did give us the immortal line “now let’s see how you deal with my favourite training canyon.” Good job, whoever wrote that.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars Episode I: Battle for Naboo</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2001 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Factor 5 / LucasArts</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TaK0KxMRRdWK.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Rq9SDcHSdzpg.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Episode 1 Battle for Naboo 2001" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>Another vehicle action game in the vein of Rogue Squadron and Starfighter, Battle for Naboo focuses on terrestrial combat, particularly in tanks. This is a less typical Star Wars fantasy than space combat, and as such it feels a little more detached from the source material&mdash;it really could be any other console-first shooter from this era, with a prequel trilogy coat of paint. The paint’s chipping, too: this is a rough-looking game.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 2001 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>LucasArts / Ensemble Studios</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/w_6BrfpiRmqb.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/CMRtnyVMLgW-.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds 2001" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>Galactic Battlegrounds eclipsed Force Commander not with visuals, but with RTS credibility. It’s by Ensemble, the studio behind Age of Empires, and it’s great largely because those games were great. Their systems aren’t a perfect fit for Star Wars&mdash;even in the drabbest corners of the expanded universe, gathering berries was rarely a priority. The campaign spans the four movies released up to that point and includes a few unusual factions in addition to the ones you’d expect&mdash;wookiees and gungans being the strangest. Given its heritage, it’s a viable competitive multiplayer strategy game as well as a singleplayer experience and picked up a small but dedicated following after release. If you’re trying it today, check out the Expanding Frontiers overhaul mod.</p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-complete-history-of-star-wars-on-pc/#page-3"><em>On the next page</em></a><em>, we move towards 2003, an amazing year for Star Wars games.</em></p><h2>Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds Clone Campaigns</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2002 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER&nbsp;</strong>LucasArts / Ensemble Studios</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/CfgR9ROoTe2j.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_c6bhL6R9yyM.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds Clone Campaigns 2002" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>Clone Campaigns expands Galactic Battlegrounds with two new factions derived from Episode II&mdash;the Separatists and the Galactic Republic. As such, the new campaigns actually fold into the middle of the base game, an unusual step for an RTS expansion. The factions, soldiers and vehicles of the Clone Wars never achieved the same iconic status as those of the original trilogy&mdash;perhaps there was never any hope of that&mdash;and it’s telling just how far their star has fallen. If you were old enough to play this at the time, you probably don’t care too much about getting to play with Galactic Republic AT-TE walkers today. They’re no AT-ATs, that’s for sure.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2002 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Raven Software</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iHS_rEyZR5-b.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/8EYHK4W8UeqE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Jedi Knight 2 Jedi Outcast 2002" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>Star Wars gaming entered its golden age in late 2002, starting with this&mdash;the best Kyle Katarn adventure, a great shooter, and an epochal multiplayer melee combat game all in one. It has a dedicated fanbase to this day, and rightly so. The campaign is worthy of a replay, and even now you can find players to compete against online from time to time.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2003 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Raven Software</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vR0vrhjDQhaO.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bFdhiq4fLIA2.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Jedi Knight Jedi Academy 2003" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>More than a decade on, this is still the greatest videogame realisation of the lightsaber. The weapon is simulated to a deep level of complexity, with a vast array of saber styles and accompanying force powers. This drove a vibrant multiplayer scene and powered a great campaign that has shades of BioWare in its branching story and Light Side-Dark Side system. No subsequent Star Wars action game has bettered it, and it’s still very much playable today. Even after you’ve exhausted every mission, the simple joy of combat sustains repeated playthroughs.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars Galaxies</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 2003 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Sony Online Entertainment</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/IllcFIgSTteR.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/FgOcCieNodhM.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Galaxies 2003" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>Beautiful, ambitious and broken, Star Wars Galaxies was a deep, player-driven MMO driven by the core talent from Ultima Online. It promised what Star Wars fans had always wanted&mdash;a chance to live in that galaxy far, far away, and to be given the freedom to determine what kind of life that was. It’ll be keenly missed.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2003 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Bioware</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/E_-xtu_hRxCf.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ObSZ7T6DcARB.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2003" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>The emergence of BioWare into the modern era was also a huge advance for the quality of Star Wars storytelling. By taking the then-unprecedented step of detaching the story entirely from the era covered by the movies, BioWare gave itself the freedom to rebuild Star Wars from the ground up. And rebuilt it was, with far more character and integrity than had been achieved in a Star Wars game before. It remixes familiar elements in intelligent ways and presents traditional Star Wars themes with rare clarity and focus. Crap minigames, however.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: Battlefront</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2004 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Pandemic Studios</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/pqKNJS5lRei9.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0IQDF-BO1X-N.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Battlefront 2004" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>Sitting somewhere between the Battlefield series and the console-centric vehicle action games that followed Rogue Squadron, Battlefront is fondly remembered for simulating conflict on a scale that hadn’t been achieved before in Star Wars gaming. It had some interesting new ideas, too, particularly in the inclusion of neutral NPCs on each map. Great in multiplayer.</p><hr id="horizontalrule"><h2>Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2004 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER&nbsp;</strong>Sony Online Entertainment</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rOM_Ps_2Spmv.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/KK6JmvvdBZnN.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Galaxies Jump to Lightspeed 2004" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>Space combat was notably absent from Star Wars Galaxies when it launched, but its eventual inclusion was revelatory: not only a substantial expansion to the underlying RPG, but a legitimate action game in its own right. For the first time, you could own and heavily customise your own starfighter, with each ship deeply tied into Galaxies’ underlying crafting system. Larger ships like freighters had fully explorable, multi-person interiors that could be decorated like any other building in the game, making them unique to the player who owned them. A reminder: this was 2004. Elite: Dangerous was a decade away, Star Citizen even further than that: and these features made it into an MMO that was fundamentally about life on the ground. A high-point for the game.</p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-complete-history-of-star-wars-on-pc/#page-4">On the last page</a><em>&nbsp;is&nbsp;2005-2011, in which we witness the entropic demise of Star Wars in videogames. There are still&nbsp;some gems to celebrate, mind.</em></p><h2>Star Wars: Republic Commando</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2005 | <strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER</strong> LucasArts</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RWQfZIvQQd6e.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BkmOrPQVVUum.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Republic Commando 2005" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>A rare example of a Clone Wars tie-in game that isn’t crap, Republic Commando offered a take on the period that was a little darker and a little more human thanks to the role played by your squadmates. It’s like a more inventive Call of Duty: a similar sense of military bravado, tempered by your squad’s status as expendable clones bred for a war they don’t have any control over.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: Battlefront II</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2005 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Pandemic Studios</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nCMRCSIYTauG.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9j-9h_KqStz_.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Battlefront II 2005" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>An expansion on the original’s strengths with a single standout new feature: space combat between fleets of fighters with seamless transitions from cockpit to combat in the hallways of capital ships. It’s also possible to unlock and play as ‘hero’ characters such as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Darth Vader for a limited time during each match, adding an interesting degree of asymmetry to competitive play. Otherwise, Battlefront II’s improvements build upon the foundation laid by the previous game: the AI is better and the freeform ‘Galactic Conquest’ campaign mode has been revamped with a greater range of strategic options. Battlefront II picked up a dedicated modding and mapping scene on PC, where players would create new multiplayer arenas to simulate various famous battles from the expanded universe. To date, Battlefront II remains Star Wars’ definitive combat sandbox.</p><hr><h2>Lego Star Wars: The Video Game</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2005 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Traveller's Tales</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WPERjU12RCmK.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/tp5GIJb6032m.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="LEGO Star Wars The Video Game 2005" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>The first of the Lego platformers, a series that would become a genre unto itself: a template that could be applied to almost any suitably beloved childhood movie or book series. At the time, it was a surprise hit: a silly, charming and unpretentious take on a series that was becoming a little self-serious, with a vast number of characters to collect and a generous selection of new levels. Similarly, it marked a highpoint in Star Wars games for children.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars Galaxies: Episode III Rage of the Wookies</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2005 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Sony Online Entertainment</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/FTLIC4r1THyu.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QuXgJD6aWyJF.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Galaxies Rage of the Wookiees 2005" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>A World of Warcraft-style expansion that both ignored SWG’s roots as a player-driven persistent world and introduced a sickly quantity of movie tie-in gunk that the game was previously free of. Collect Anakin Skywalker’s starfighter! Win medals! The beginning of the end for Galaxies.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars Galaxies: Trials of Obi-Wan</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2005 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Sony Online Entertainment</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nQhTgwpxSoeG.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/B-6dWAVDuZ_M.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Galaxies Trials of Obi-Wan 2005" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>In which Sir Alec Guinness’s glowing ghost sends you to Mustafar just in time for the DVD release of Revenge of the Sith. Also, HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic shows up in order to remind you that better Star Wars RPGs exist&mdash;indeed, Star Wars Galaxies used to be one of them. Standout dumb ideas include the ‘lavasaber’.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: KOTOR II - The Sith Lords</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2005 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Obsidian Entertainment</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/eD9_kt3-Rui7.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/lGEC_nSZXC1C.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II The Sith Lords 2005" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>Rather unfinished on release (but subsequently patched up by the community), Knights of the Old Republic II is a fascinating, unorthodox take on Star Wars by Obsidian. Where the original reconstructs Star Wars, this deconstructs it: challenging the Light Side-Dark Side division and with it the core tenets of the Jedi-Sith conflict. In particular, the exiled Jedi Master Kreia offers a perspective on Star Wars&mdash;penned by veteran RPG scribe Chris Avellone&mdash;that functionally rips apart Lucas’s simplistic fiction. The ability to act as a mentor to your Force-sensitive companions and explore a nuanced, morally grey interpretation of the universe is the main draw here, as its interaction with its predecessor’s narrative is cursory at best. A rare example of Star Wars fiction that is smarter than it is dramatic.</p><hr><h2>Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2006 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Traveller's Tales</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/8XjrwR2xSNCr.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/UFNWUa_9RKuQ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="LEGO Star Wars II The Original Trilogy 2006" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>More charming simply for being based on better films, Lego Star Wars II is otherwise a very similar game to its predecessor. In that it’s for kids, mostly, but remains enjoyable today for the chunky clattery way that stormtroopers fall apart when you bash them. Brick Vader is adorable too, but not to be confused with ‘Brick Vader’ from the excellent Snatch Wars YouTube parody.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: Empire at War</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2006 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Petroglyph Games</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vyq8lH1gQtCl.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/W0oDWyJOag7r.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Empire At War 2006" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>If Galactic Battlegrounds represents the legacy of Age of Empires, then this represents its great ’90s RTS rival&mdash;Command &amp; Conquer. Empire At War’s developer, Petroglyph, was formed out of Westwood veterans and would here produce a deep and beautifully-rendered take on Star Wars strategy. Rather than focusing on resource harvesting, Empire at War took the more setting-appropriate step of basing unit construction on the amount of galactic territory controlled by the player. Battles could take place both planetside and in orbit, with each campaign describing a different course through the period between Episode III and IV. It’s far more grounded in the latter, though, featuring detailed renditions of the Empire’s most iconic weapons of war. It spawned an active modding scene, too.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2006 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER&nbsp;</strong>Petroglyph Games</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/K8BPve_rQ9-0.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/s4QedvwgMlOi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Empire At War Forces of Corruption 2006" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>Rather than stick to the series’ traditional binary conflict, Forces of Corruption introduces the Zann Consortium as an organised crime syndicate capable of playing both sides against each other. A refreshing break from the traditional ‘prequel trilogy tie-in’ formula.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: The Force Unleashed</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 2008 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>LucasArts / Aspyr Media</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xy-RRqxTS0G_.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EB_Bkl6bs6mj.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars The Force Unleashed 2008" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>This was Star Wars’ answer to the era of gritty console character action games like God of War&mdash;an attempt to win over older fans with a take on the setting that emphasised massive Force destruction and brutal lightsaber kills. A lot of emphasis was placed on the narrative, too&mdash;the story of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice and his quest to scowl and kill people in every signifi cant location in the Star Wars universe. Its interaction with the movies is clumsy in the extreme, but it’s not without drama and the more spectacular moments definitely stick in the mind&mdash;particularly bringing down a Star Destroyer using the Force. That said, this is also as over the top and videogamey as Star Wars combat gets&mdash;Jedi Academy had almost as much spectacle and far more nuance.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: The Clone Wars&mdash;Republic Heroes</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 2008 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Krome Studios</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0WA8b9yCTe29.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uHif7dRdYRol.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars The Clone Wars Republic Heroes 2009" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>An action-platformer tie-in to the Clone Wars kids TV series that mixes Jedi platforming with Clone Trooper third-person shooting. The Force Unleashed for kids, basically. Lego Star Wars has aged better and has more personality, but this may still appeal if you were 12 in 2009. Or are still 12, for that matter.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong>&nbsp;2010 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>LucasArts / Aspyr Media</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YZG5SpeVRaa-.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ieNdZ_PpGlMN.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars The Force Unleashed II 2010" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>Wherein the ‘II’ stands for ‘two lightsabers’. Vader’s apprentice returns as a clone of Vader’s apprentice in a galaxy-shaking tale of revenge and rebellion that no longer happened thanks to LucasArts’ excision of the expanded universe. A little too similar to the original game to have the same kind of impact&mdash;by this point, ‘man uses Force on spaceship’ was an old trick.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 2010 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Sony Online Entertainment</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vN2jUGMkSdud.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Hu4S7-u7HCyo.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Clone Wars Adventures 2010" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>Shorter-lived than Star Wars Galaxies, Clone Wars Adventures was a free-to-play MMO based on the Clone Wars cartoon. It was a small-scale themepark MMO in the World of Warcraft mould, though far less successful in that regard than The Old Republic would subsequently be. Minigames were used to furnish players with other types of experience, like fl ight, racing, and even tower defence. Clone Wars Adventures was reasonably well-presented, for what it was, but SOE (now Daybreak) ultimately determined that free to play MMOs for kids didn’t really work: parents’ wallets are only so deep, after all, and the cost of keeping the game updated ultimately outstretched its value to the developer. A shame for the game’s fans, but likely a victory for their homework.</p><hr><h2>Star Wars: The Old Republic</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 2011 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Bioware</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/lpmpWHhSTC6q.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ip2wnq9FsVkr.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars The Old Republic 2011" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>The Old Republic, at launch, was a great MMO of the WoW sort and a remarkably complete singleplayer RPG experience, with eight entirely different game-length campaigns. The scope and expense of its production was remarkable, which goes some way to explaining why it suffered once dwindling subscriber numbers necessitated the switch to free-to-play. It’s gone a bit themepark-crazy since&mdash;particularly the recent Shadow of Revan expansion, which ties into KOTOR I&mdash;but it’s (mostly) free and much of the writing is genuinely excellent.</p><hr><h2>Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars</h2><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">RELEASED</strong> 2011 |&nbsp;<strong style="background-color: initial;">DEVELOPER </strong>Traveller's Tales</p><p><strong style="background-color: initial;"></strong><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6fQBP3pSTXOr.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/AsuGbX_K9o-U.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="LEGO Star Wars II The Clone Wars 2011" style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"></p><p>Another TV tie-in, therefore the Lego Star Wars game that you’re likely to have the least connection to. Introduced vehicle levels with an on-foot component, but otherwise highly similar to its predecessors. Almost a decade after the release of Attack of the Clones, the movie finally fades from the landscape of PC Star Wars gaming. It is the dawn of a new era.</p><hr> <h2>Star Wars Battlefront</h2><p><strong>RELEASED</strong> 2015 | <strong>DEVELOPER</strong> DICE</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ilUR6SImRPuR.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/fY4A7qZ5gyOE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Star Wars Battlefront"></p><p>Star Wars makes its grand return to the PC a decade after the release of Battlefront II. DICE's rebooted Battlefront has more in common with the simple Battlefront of old than its military shooter Battlefield, but with a slavish attention to Original Trilogy&nbsp;authenticity and graphical detail. Gone are some of Battlefront's staples, however, like the Galactic Conquest and class system. Time will tell if this new Battlefront holds our attention for long, but it sure is pretty.</p><p><em>And that's it!&nbsp;Expect to see many more additions to the Star Wars PC game canon in the coming years. For now, here's&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/star-wars-battlefront-everything-you-need-to-know/"><em>everything you need to know about Battlefront</em></a><em>&nbsp;and our round-up of our&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-star-wars-games-of-all-time/">favourite Star Wars games ever</a>.</em></p> Show Us Your Rig: Warframe's Glen Minerhttp://www.pcgamer.com/show-us-your-rig-warframes-glen-miner/Glen Miner is technical director on Warframe and Digital Extremes, and he's got one of the strongest rigs we've seen on the series so far.Tue, 17 Nov 2015 18:34:07 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/show-us-your-rig-warframes-glen-miner/Digital Extremesshow us your rigWarframe <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TUDLByxMQm28.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bkTio1J3-jGh.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Glen Miner 07"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title" style="margin-left: 0px;">Show us your rig</h5> <p> Each week on <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/show-us-your-rig/">Show Us Your Rig</a>, we feature PC gaming's best and brightest as they show us the systems they use to work and play. </p> </div><p> Glen Miner is technical director&nbsp;for&nbsp;<a href="http://pcgamer.com/warframe" target="_blank">Warframe</a> at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/digital-extremes/" target="_blank">Digital Extremes</a>, and is&nbsp;apparently either camera shy or actually&nbsp;part horse. Either way, he's got one hell of&nbsp;a setup. His PC has a GTX 980 Ti, 64GB of RAM, a whopping 4TB worth of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-ssd-for-gaming/" target="_blank">the best gaming SSD</a> you can get, and the list goes on from there. It's truly a sight to behold for human, horse, or otherwise. Glen was kind enough to show off this powerhouse of a setup and tell us a bit about why he never stops improving it.&nbsp;</p><h4>What’s in your PC?</h4><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">Inside the PC</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VWFnLvTcR3iM.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TQPHenCNJoV4.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Glen Miner 05"><i style="background-color: initial;">Click the arrows to expand.</i></p></div><ul> <li>CPU: Intel i7-5960X 8-core @ 4.0 GHz</li> <li>GPU: MSI GeForce GTX 980 Ti Gaming 6G</li> <li>RAM: 64GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 2666MHz</li> <li>MOBO: Asus Rampage V Extreme</li> <li>Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H110i GTX 280mm</li> <li>SSDs: 2x Samsung 850 EVO 2TB</li> <li>HDD: Seagate ST6000DM001 6TB 128MB Cache</li> <li>Monitors: 2x Dell U2413</li> <li>Mouse: Roccat Kone XTD</li> <li>Keyboard: MS Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000</li> <li>OS: Windows 7 x64 SP1</li> <li>Case: Corsair Obsidian Series 750D</li> <li>Power: Corsair AX860i</li> <li>Receiver: NAD C 325BEE</li> <li>DAC: LiTe DAC-AH</li> <li>Speakers: Mission M32i</li> <li>Headset: Logitech G430</li> <li>Laptop: 2014 Macbook Air (Bootcamp to Win7).</li></ul><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rMwwYd34Q_Wg.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7gXdTRRa4lYV.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Glen Miner 06"></p><h4>What's the most interesting/unique part of your setup?</h4><p> The rig itself is an endless work-in-progress. I’ve got a stack of after-market gear to try out and successfully overclocked it to 4.4GHz, but I need to improve the cooling to keep it stable at that rate when I’m doing heavy development work.</p><p> The monitor on my left is actually [DE]KickBot (the merciless enforcer of law and order in Warframe’s chat channels). Although this beast of a rig rarely leaves me waiting for code to compile when it does I often look over read what people are talking about&mdash;it’s a great to be able to interact with players while I’m working on new features or get their help when tracking down elusive bugs! PS: I'm watching you, Wazowski. Always watching.</p><p> Similarly, the laptop on my right is handy to watch Warframe Twitch streams while I work. I find it fascinating to see how players react to things in the game and even after over 800 hours of time in-game on my public account I still learn new tricks from the pros!</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iiAbeQEKSpuK.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nNIwgS9jzQG0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Glen Miner 02"></p><h4>What are you playing right now?</h4><p> I’ve been working my way through Persona 4 Golden on the Vita and even though I’ve completed Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention twice I’ll probably go back and unlock some alternate endings before starting Disgaea 4.</p><h4>What's your favorite game and why?</h4><p> I think the only other game I’ve played as much as Warframe would be Pokemon (I have at least 10 different versions on the shelf). I really admire how the deceptive simplicity of the mechanics yield a huge menagerie of creatures to battle and capture; I think&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/raphkoster?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor" target="_blank">@raphkoster</a> would also add that there’s primitive brain chemistry working to reinforce the pleasure of correctly remembering which attack will be super effective!</p><p><em>Warframe is in the middle of celebrating&nbsp;</em><a href="https://warframe.com/movember?q=movember" target="_blank"><em>Movember</em></a><em>&nbsp;with a month of mustache themed&nbsp;charity activities in partnership with the Movember Foundation. I'm not sure if the horse head is part of that, or if a&nbsp;horse&nbsp;can even&nbsp;grow a mustache, but it does have a fantastic mane.&nbsp;</em></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Gfxk9YRHTPqb.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9gKi04GT51sX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Show Us Your Rig Glen Miner 04"></p> Mastering your new League of Legends masterieshttp://www.pcgamer.com/mastering-your-new-league-of-legends-masteries/Riot didn't just tweak the numbers on the masteries systemthey went and did a total system overhaul. Here's what you need to know.Tue, 17 Nov 2015 01:50:58 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/mastering-your-new-league-of-legends-masteries/League of LegendsMOBAPro <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ugZVtv26TVmk.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/di4TEwcLLRZz.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Alistar 0"></p><p>Preseason's here! And that means utter, utter chaos.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/league-of-legends/">League of Legends</a>' yearly rebalancing period, coming upon the tail of its competitive season, is intended to address some of the more fundamental problems facing the game, specifically issues that would've been too disruptive to address during the regular season (though the top lane itemization overhaul tread dangerously close to these grounds).</p><p> 5.22's patch notes alone count for a novella, so breaking down the consequences of each and every change'll likely take even longer. But there are definitely two particularly significant categories addressed: the wholesale Marksman update, which adds a whole bevy of new items to the game, and the masteries rework.</p><p> Riot didn't just tweak the numbers on the masteries system&mdash;they went and did a total system overhaul. Though a few classics still persist (the Total Biscuit of Rejuvenation lives on with but a single click of Secret Stash, even as mana potions are outright removed), the reboot has both streamlined the process of selecting masteries while also making the specific choices you make all that much more important to your in-game conduct and capabilities.</p><p> The best way to think of it is that they've changed it from a role-oriented approach, where you pump points into whatever talent tree best serves your role as DPS, tank, jungler, or support, into a style-oriented approach,&nbsp;where before you put a single point in, you're encouraged to consider what best fits the way you play: whether you want to slug it out in an extended brawl, ghost in and out in a fight to assassinate key targets, roam across the entire map to secure objectives and assist teammates, and so on. And to determine that, you first have to consider what Keystone you want.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/4xTEW9p_Snm0.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/W6lhhL07M0jQ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Masteries Filled Out"></p><h2>Setting a Foundation</h2><p> At first glance, the mastery trees seem to share much of the thematic elements of their counterparts. Ferocity is basically Offense, as most of the damage amplifying masteries are found in it. Resolve, similarly, is basically the Defense tree&mdash;armor, health, and health regeneration make up the bulk of its offerings. But not only is the Utility tree greatly changed in its transition into Cunning, the actual merits of each tree is&nbsp;redefined not by how many points you shove into them, but which Keystone mastery you pick from each.</p><p> Under the old Offense tree, Havoc was the last mastery you could pick up, and all it did was give a flat 3% bonus to your damage. Defense's Legendary Guardian gave you 3 armor and magic resistance per nearby enemy&mdash;more dynamic, but also the only option for that tree. Now, you have a choice of one out of three 'ultimate' masteries per tree. Rather than a flat bonus, it now encourages specific play styles.</p><h3><strong>Ferocity</strong></h3><ul> <li><strong>Warlord's Bloodlust</strong>: Critical strikes heal you for 5% of the damage dealt, and increase attack speed by 20%.</li> <li><strong>Fervor of Battle</strong>: Basic attacks and spells grant a stack of Fervor for 5 seconds, and each stack adds bonus physical damage to autoattacks.</li> <li><strong>Deathfire Touch</strong>: Damaging abilities add burn damage scaling with ability power and bonus attack damage.</li></ul><p> Warlord's Bloodlust is currently too powerful overall: its critical heals work against minions and neutral monsters as well, making it way too easy for AD carries to stay in the game&mdash;Riot's already planning to change this to trigger only on champions. But even under its intended design, this is basically for the all-in aggro players we hate to support&mdash;the Fioras, Yasuos, Vaynes and Corkis of the world who use their dashes to get closer to the enemy instead of running to safety. Healing off of the mastery, along with lifesteal, enables them to duel single targets with great efficiency</p><p> Fervor of Battle, in contrast, rewards patience and stubbornness instead. It encourages patient sieges, like the sort you get with Kog'maw, Caitlyn or Jinx&mdash;you sit at the peripheries of a fight, far away from the center of the action, and just rain a constant stream of bullets onto the front line. It's an especially potent contribution to siege compositions that want to avoid fights altogether and just hit turrets, Dragons and Rift Heralds all day, quickly stripping down objectives.</p><p> Deathfire Touch, meanwhile, is the odd one out. It's nominally a boon to spellcasters, amplifying the effective ability power and attack damage ratios of spells, but it has direct competitors with the Cunning keystones:</p><h3> Cunning</h3><ul> <li><strong>Stormraider's Surge</strong>: Dealing 30% of a champion's max health grants 35% bonus movement speed for 3 seconds.</li> <li><strong>Thunderlord's Decree</strong>: Every third attack or spell on an enemy champion deals bonus area of effect magic damage around the target.</li> <li><strong>Windspeaker's Blessing</strong>: Heals and shields are 10% stronger, and increase an ally's armor and magic resistance for 3 seconds.</li></ul><p> In effect, Thunderlord's Decree is what Deathfire wants to be, adding bonus damage as well as fundamentally changing spell effects to make them more dangerous in fights. The area of effect bonus makes it much more dangerous for enemy teams to cluster up, and tacitly encourages them to diffuse their capability to focus-fire on priority targets. Stormraider's Surge, meanwhile, gives assassins what they really want: not extra damage, which they already have plenty of, but a more assured escape route for after they've dropped their payload.</p><p> Meanwhile, Windspeaker's the odd one out this time, though not for the same reason. As Ferocity is basically split between magic-oriented and physical-oriented masteries, Cunning is split between burst-oriented and utility-oriented effects. In the case of its last keystone, it's clearly meant for Soraka, Sona, Janna and other forms of 'selfless' supports&mdash;a sharp contrast to the kill-seeking specializations of the two others.</p><h3> Resolve</h3><ul> <li><strong>Grasp of the Undying</strong>: Every four seconds, your next attack steals 4% of an enemy's max health.</li> <li><strong>Strength of the Ages</strong>: Siege minions and monsters that you or an ally kills grants stacks of permanent health up to 300 HP, then heals you for 100 HP afterward.</li> <li><strong>Bond of Stone</strong>: Damage is reduced, and you intercept 8% of the damage given to nearby allied champions.</li></ul><p> If you're Alistar and not using Bond of Stone, you're really doing it wrong&mdash;the potential 78% raw damage reduction with Alistar's ultimate, not to mention absorbing everybody else's damage, almost makes it pointless to attack him at all. Similarly, Bond of Stone makes me want to try out Maokai support to see if his post-6 game is similarly powerful with its effects. Tanky supports and top laners should absolutely grab this&mdash;it's basically all they've ever wanted and more.</p><p> Meanwhile, there are two kinds of junglers: ambushers, like a level 2 red buffed Jarvan IV, grabbing Grasp of the Undying so that their ganks hit like a truck. Or farm junglers like a Devourer Warwick, using Strength of the Ages to make themselves effectively too bulky to take down as they initiate mid- and late-game fights.</p><h2>Finishing Touches</h2><p> Unlike the previous mastery system, once you've pumped 18 points into a tree and picked a keystone, that's pretty much it for that tree. Formerly, there'd be 30-0-0 max damage builds, or 0-30-0 tanks (never 0-0-30, as&nbsp;Utility didn't offer any combat stats back then), but now you're forced to diversify,&nbsp;and that's where it gets tricky.</p><p> While the other tiers don't have effects as similarly game-changing as the keystones, they're not without consequences too. It's easy enough for tanky supports to decide to go 0-12-18, for example: 18 points for Bond of Stone, while 12 points into Cunning unlocks Bandit for them, enabling extra gold when an ally kills a minion or when the support attacks an enemy champion. But a mid-lane assassin with Stormraider's Surge has to decide whether to pump all remaining 12 points into Ferocity for Oppressor, dealing bonus damage to crowd controlled targets, or split 6 off into Resolve to get Explorer, which lets them roam through bushes and the river faster for better ganks and getaways.</p><p> There's a paradox with the new mastery system: despite reducing masteries from as much as 20 options per tree to just 13 (57 in Season 4 vs. 39 now), there's actually a lot more customization choices&mdash;at least, a lot more meaningful choices. Flat statistic bonuses make for cookie-cutter builds, punishing players for stepping out of line from what's optimal. Situationally-triggered effects, on the other hand, reward creativity, putting emphasis on decisions made instead of flat numbers. League of Legends is all the healthier for the new system, and its competitive effects after fine-tuning will hopefully make for even better champion and strategic diversity in the coming year.</p><hr><p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/starcraft-2-legacy-of-the-void-review/Blizzardbrings a seventeen-year epic to a fitting close.Tue, 17 Nov 2015 01:13:03 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/starcraft-2-legacy-of-the-void-review/BlizzardReviewsRTSStarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Need To Know</h5> <p> <strong>What is it? </strong>The fifth&nbsp;entry&nbsp;in Blizzard’s sci-fi RTS series, and the conclusion of its story.<br> <strong>Expect to pay </strong>$40/£30 <br> <strong>Release </strong>Out now<br> <strong>Developer </strong>Blizzard<br> <strong>Publisher </strong>In-house<br> <strong>Multiplayer </strong>Co-op and competitive, extensive options.<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Link </strong><a href="http://www.battle.net/">Official site</a> </p> </div><p> I am not the world’s greatest StarCraft player. That&mdash;currently&mdash;is a guy called sOs. You might have heard of him: he was the one lifting that heavy-looking trophy at the World Championship at BlizzCon. sOs became the world’s greatest StarCraft player by defeating somebody called Life in a seven-game series&mdash;a test of physical dexterity, mental acuity and psychological endurance in excess of any other competitive computer game.</p><p> StarCraft’s competitive element has become the thing it is best known for over the course of the series’ long life. That makes sense: it’s the original stadium-filling esport and one of the most skill-intensive games ever made. For the long-term fans who know StarCraft primarily in this regard, Legacy of the Void marks the start of the game’s new era. It’s a suite of new units, features and balance changes that will define the character of the game for the next couple of years.</p><p> From my position of limited skill, I can tell you that Legacy of the Void’s changes make the competitive game faster, more skill-intensive, and less fiddly. There’s a greater emphasis on making big decisions early. You begin your match with more worker units than you used to, and the business of setting up your economy has been streamlined. Fights happen faster and, as a consequence, matches are shorter. You might get caught out by a rush strategy you didn’t see coming: you type ‘GG’, surrender, tab out to TeamLiquid, read up on your counters, tab back, and you’re playing again within a minute. It is easier than ever to lose evenings to the ladder in this way.</p><p> That elevated skill ceiling is thanks to new units that become dramatically more powerful if you’re capable of micromanaging them effectively. One example is the Protoss Adept, a ranged infantry unit that can act as an alternative to Stalkers and Zealots. In and of itself, it’s capable enough&mdash;but it’s real power comes from Psionic Transfer, which creates a ghostly duplicate of the Adept that is controlled separately. These are invulnerable and after seven seconds the Adept teleports to the ghost’s location. Suddenly, new strategic pathways open up: around entrenched positions and into worker lines, past the enemy’s own targeted abilities and (hopefully) into victories that go beyond cheeses and strict counters.</p><p> Legacy of the Void wholeheartedly supports the notion that StarCraft is a difficult game and that player skill should be respected. If you get too tired or anxious to climb the ladder, there are also automated tournament brackets that run every couple of hours. These allow you to experience some of the drama of structured play without any of the logistical hassle. You’re playing for bragging rights, ultimately, but it rounds out the experience and it’s something that I wish more competitive games would offer.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/bHl6c0WdT1iH.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/JzF2w8q-fntg.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="StarCraft II LotV - A multiplayer game I lost" class=""> <figcaption>Here's a picture of a game I lost. I had time to take a picture, because I was losing.</figcaption></figure><p> The reason Legacy of the Void comes highly recommended, however, is that it also supports the idea that you should be able to have fun regardless of how good you are. The competitive game has been allowed to change in ways that make it deeper, but the package as a whole is broad and generous in its provision of entry points for new players.</p><p> If competitive StarCraft has become an art, then Legacy of the Void’s campaign offers a colour-by-numbers alternative for those still developing their abilities. As in Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm, Blizzard treat singleplayer as its own entity, with its own units and rules. The final part of the trilogy tasks you with uniting the fragmented factions of the Protoss race from aboard an ancient warship, the Spear of Adun. Your ship and the factions you pick up form the basis of the extra toys you get to play with. Where James Raynor had his upgrades and Kerrigan had her mutations, Protoss Hierarch Artanis picks between multiple versions of the same unit type. There are Templar and Dark Templar variants on the basic melee zealot, for example, with further options unlocked as additional Protoss forces are recruited.</p><p> Then, the Spear of Adun itself can be upgraded by investing resources gathered by completing optional objectives within each mission. Some of these upgrades are passive, such as increased build speed, increased starting supplies, and shield regeneration. Others are active, deployed mid-battle from a new command interface along the top of the screen. These include direct attacks&mdash;orbital strikes, bombardments, a giant moveable laser, and so on&mdash;and support powers, like the ability to freeze time for enemy units or summon a Pylon along with reinforcements anywhere on the battlefield. They’re wildly overpowered but mitigated by cooldowns and a recharging energy meter, acting as both siege-breaking opening gambits and last-ditch survival options.</p><p> Taken in combination, this degree of customisation allows you to tailor your approach to suit your style and skill level. I prefer a slow siege, with Stalkers supported by forcefield-emitting Sentries and, later, Immortals and Colossi. I put together a tweaked variant on that, with artillery-spewing Immortal variants protecting a new kind of Sentry that lays down a power grid, allowing me to warp fresh Stalkers right to the front line. As the scale of each mission increases, there’s a real thrill to seeing a plan like this come together: the glow of dozens of protoss units warping in at once, the angry red beams of custom Void Rays strafing waves of zerglings that pop <em>just so</em>.</p><p>After over five years of StarCraft II, the new missions don’t manage to feel quite as fresh or original as Wings of Liberty’s did when it came out. Though I wouldn’t say there were any especially weak links, certain objectives get repetitive after a while. You will track down and destroy three different objectives while also hunting for two or three different <em>optional</em> objectives on several worlds and in several different contexts, albeit with new units and powers to prevent each encounter from feeling exactly the same.</p><p>There are certainly exceptions to this rule. One mission strands your base on a landlocked island with minimal resources, but allows you to move that island along rails to reach new areas. Another allows you to command three different squads of Protoss hero units in succession, completing multiple objectives at once in three different parts of a world. In another you join allied Terran forces in a battle against their corrupt counterparts. Every few minutes, a psychic blast leaves every Terran on the battlefield incapacitated&mdash;friends and foe alike. This is either an opportunity to lay waste to a defenceless enemy or time to defend your stricken ally depending on how ruthless you’re feeling. There’s rarely a mission where Legacy of the Void doesn’t innovate along these lines, but certain designs stand out more than others.</p><p>The core Protoss campaign is the shortest of the series so far, but it’s bookended by mini-campaigns that, collectively, amount to a substantial and largely gratifying conclusion to the series. The nebulous cosmic threat spoken of in cutscenes from Brood War onwards finally arrives, and is dealt with not just by the Protoss but by the Terran and Zerg characters that you’ve come to know as well. Raynor and Kerrigan get their ending, as do Zeratul, Artanis, and all of the other Protoss who (if you’re me) you’ve probably confused with each other over the almost two decades that Blizzard have been telling this story.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Ma3Z2qFKRqCL.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/GZNWzdx6MJmi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="StarCraft II LotV - Singleplayer Siege Line" class=""><figcaption>Here's a picture of a singleplayer mission&nbsp;I won. I had time to take a picture, because lasers.</figcaption></figure><p>There was a risk that a Protoss narrative could end up feeling dry and this holds true to a certain degree. The Protoss are part elf, part Vulcan, part Marvel Comics Asgardian: they’re big and gold and Shakespearean and silly, and if you take the time to talk to everybody on board the Spear of Adun you’ll have more than your share of conversations about Templars and Nerazim and Tal’darim and the Khala and so on. Blizzard commit to this wholeheartedly and a huge investment has been made in furnishing the campaign with impressive cinematic moments. If you are a fan already, this is a party being put on to serve your very specific interests. If you are not, it may mean very little if you haven’t at least played Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm. Nonetheless, it has heart: that loud technicolour exploding metal album cover heart that finds its way into most Blizzard games.</p><p>For the first time in StarCraft II, some of that freeform campaign feel makes its way into multiplayer. In co-op, you and a friend (or an online stranger) pick commanders that each offer a different spin on their faction, complete with unique special powers and distinct units. You then take on objective-based missions at varying difficulty levels for XP, which unlock new abilities, units, and so on. This is a brilliant addition: it gets more life out of units designed for singleplayer, and provides a welcoming way into multiplayer for those daunted by it.</p><p>As an introduction to the game, co-op is actually more effective than Archon mode despite the latter getting the loudest fanfare from Blizzard. Archon is a new competitive two-vs-two format where both players control a single army. When both players are equally skilled, this is pretty entertaining&mdash;a way of taking the pressure off each individual by having one brain to look after the army and another to look after the base. With a newcomer, however, I don’t really think it works&mdash;it feels too much like teaching somebody by doing everything for them, where co-op (and traditional two-vs-twos) both allow newbies to work with all of the game’s systems themselves.</p><p>These weaker moments don’t spoil the whole, however. Legacy of the Void feels like a Blizzard game from another era&mdash;one where the box you buy (or download, I guess) contains a wide variety of experiences and promises to sustain investment for a long time to come. This is a game from the universe where the RTS never went away, where they kept getting made and improved over the course of decades. I’d say “they don’t make them like this any more”&mdash;but they clearly do.</p> Why a visual novel raised $1.2 million on Kickstarterhttp://www.pcgamer.com/why-a-visual-novel-raised-12-million-on-kickstarter/Muv-Luv is the latest visual novel to strike it big on Kickstarter, but hardly the first. The genre's growing in the west.Mon, 16 Nov 2015 21:30:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/why-a-visual-novel-raised-12-million-on-kickstarter/Muv-Luvvisual novel <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/8NgEpQqFQyeE.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3wUVV7EufoVD.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Muv-luv Alternative"></p><p>In late September, a Kickstarter campaign&nbsp;asking for $250,000 launched with the promise of something a small group&nbsp;of fans have&nbsp;been eagerly&nbsp;waiting&nbsp;for: an English&nbsp;translation of visual novel Muv-Luv. Eight hours later, the campaign hit that goal. A little over a month later,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/muvluv/muv-luv-a-pretty-sweet-visual-novel-series/description">Muv-Luv's campaign</a> closed at $1,255,444&mdash;more money&nbsp;than the popular&nbsp;Kickstarters&nbsp;for&nbsp;Divinity: Original Sin, Underworld Ascendant, The Banner Saga and&nbsp;Hyper Light Drifter.&nbsp;While crowdfunded games often cash-in on nostalgia or allow developers to make their dream games, they can also be&nbsp;a barometer of the current gaming climate.&nbsp;</p><p>Muv-Luv is&nbsp;actually all three, and the latest sign of&nbsp;further acceptance&mdash;and appetite&mdash;for&nbsp;a quintessentially Japanese genre in the West.</p><p>In 1980s Japan, before consoles took over the games industry, the PC was a powerful platform, and the visual novel was a dominant genre. "The high screen resolution, combined with the lack of hardware spriting found in consoles like the Famicom, meant that creating fast-moving action games was difficult,"&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/JPNcomputers/Japanesecomputers2.htm">explains gaming history site HG101</a>.&nbsp;"This in turn led budding game developers to create adventure games mostly involving still images and text. While initially similar to pioneering Western adventure games like Mystery House, they gradually morphed into the kind of minimally interactive storybook adventures now commonly known as visual novels."&nbsp;</p><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">Getting started with visual novels</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/N4IMShiQSA6L.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iO7OQFom0RHS.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Hatoful Boyfriend"></p><p>Curious to learn more about visual novels? Check out our list of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-visual-novels-for-beginners/">the 10 best visual novels for beginners.</a></p></div><p>Despite their popularity in Japan, we rarely saw them in the west, partially because they're so text heavy.&nbsp;A visual novel with a script of one million Japanese characters could work out to the equivalent of an 800 page English story. That's a lot of text to edit.</p><p>So why are they growing now? Small publishers like XSEED have&nbsp;<a href="http://www.usgamer.net/articles/visual-novels-in-america">helped raise awareness of visual novels in the west</a>, as have popular handheld games like Phoenix Wright. And then there's the PC itself, which Japanese developers have slowly started embracing to great success, as we've seen with games like Dark Souls and Valkyria Chronicles.</p><p>But&nbsp;$1.2 million for a campaign like Muv-Luv still&nbsp;seems astonishing. After all, this is a trio of over 10 year-old visual novels that have already been fan-translated. Occasional choices break up the many, many&nbsp;paragraphs of text, and are then followed by more paragraphs of text.&nbsp;But once you understand the nature of Muv-Luv and look at recent trends in PC gaming, that big pile of cash begins to make more sense.</p><p> The Kickstarter covered localizations of Muv-Luv Extra, Unlimited and Alternate, first released in 2003 and 2006 in Japan. The first two are bundled together in a two-part story, with the third being a follow-up. While originally released as adult games for PCs, all-ages versions with additional art and storyline content to replace the adult materials were eventually brought to the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. The cast of characters are the same in each of the three installments, but some interesting twists and shifts in tone result in an adventure that evolves and expands with each entry.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/dK0A5aPQTLGG.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mF1n6XFeRVWw.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Muv Luv Extra"></p><p> For example, the original story, Muv-Luv Extra, is pretty much exactly what you&nbsp;would expect from an&nbsp;anime-style choose-your-own-adventure story. It's a romantic comedy centered around a high schooler named Takeru Shirogane as he's pursued by two women: childhood friend and neighbor Sumika Kagami and a mystery woman named Meiya Mitsurugi. It begins in the most stereotypical way possible for such a story, with Takeru waking up to find Meiya, a girl he doesn't know, inexplicably sharing his bed, and Sumika discovering them in this strange situation.</p><p> The story that follows is something of a slice-of-life affair. The player learns why Meiya is so determined to become part of Takeru's life despite being an apparent stranger and explores a possible redefining of Takeru's relationship with Sumika. It's funny, dramatic and a rather typical love story with one of two possible ends.</p><blockquote>What draws people to Muv-Luv is the unconventional, complex payoff to the setup of a simple story.</blockquote><p> Muv-Luv Unlimited changes everything. It shifts to an alternate universe, where the Takeru of Muv-Luv&nbsp;Extra is the same, but everyone else belongs to this other world. This timeline is drastically different, due to the invasion of Beings of Extra-Terrestrial origin which are the Adversary of the human race (BETA). The BETA have&nbsp;reduced the human race to about one billion people.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TXs-zVVRT82f.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/IUYCqxUjhis0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Muv Luv Photon Melodies" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p>Takeru has no idea this is all real and believes it’s a dream. At first, he’s just excited about the idea of joining the military and piloting a mecha. It's only after he realizes many of the people he knew from his reality, minus Sumika, are here and it is an alternate reality that the story becomes one of survival.</p><p> With Muv-Luv Alternative, Takeru finds himself in a Groundhog Day situation. Once again, he wakes up in his room. At first, he thinks that maybe what happened in the previous game was all a dream. Except once he begins to go about his day, he realizes that he's at what would be the beginning of Unlimited again, only with the knowledge of everything that happened. The hope is that this time he might be able to make changes that will benefit the world he now calls home, while also finding out how he ended up in this alternative reality and time loop in the first place.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/170DNnqWQ9Oi.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ZN8Wd_5HjlJI.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Muv Luv Alternative"></p><p> What draws people to Muv-Luv: Alternative is the unconventional, complex payoff to the setup of a simple story. With Muv-Luv Extra, we learn about these characters and bond with them as they go about their everyday lives and fall in love. When Takeru is dropped into the alternate reality of Unlimited, we already have a reason to root for him. You feel for his situation and understand why he feels so driven to help these characters who both are and aren’t the people he thinks they are. It’s compelling enough for 7,890 people to contribute the money to not only fund the English PC localization, but also Android and Vita ports and the release of the spin-off PC stories Photon Flowers and Photon Melodies.</p><p> Muv-Luv’s $1.2 million Kickstarter is the highest crest (so far) of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-visual-novels-for-beginners/">a wave of visual novels</a> finding success through crowdfunding. It's the first to break the $1 million barrier, but hardly the first success. In November and December 2014, Sekai Project launched two crowdfunding endeavors for other famous series, <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sekaiproject/clannad-official-english-release">Clannad</a> and <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sekaiproject/the-grisaia-trilogy-three-huge-visual-novels-for-p">The Grisaia Trilogy</a>. They raised $541,161 and $475,255.</p><blockquote>&nbsp;Muv-Luv’s Kickstarter is the highest crest (so far) of a wave of visual novels finding success through crowdfunding.</blockquote><p> Visual novels, which once rarely left Japan, have seen remarkable growth in the west in just a few short years. It took until 2012 for visual novels to begin appearing on Steam, with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/analogue-a-hate-story-review/">Analogue: A Hate Story</a>, Magical Diary and Cherry Tree High Comedy Club paving the way. 2015 has seen the release of over 85 games and counting that can be counted as visual novels on Steam, with thousands of positive reviews between them.</p><p> The success of Muv-Luv can’t be brushed off. This is an established and loved series in Japan, one which has inspired additional games, manga and anime series. Enough people overseas believed in and loved it enough to contribute over $1 million to see it released in English, tentatively in 2016. This is a trilogy that is more like the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure titles we read as children than the AAA titles that dominate the market today. While Muv-Luv is certainly going to be a milestone to look forward to in 2016, people in search of something to play now now may want to look toward the romantic Amnesia: Memories, thrilling World End Economica, or emotional Narcissu 1st &amp; 2nd.</p> Reno Jackson might be Hearthstone's strongest card since Emperor Thaurissanhttp://www.pcgamer.com/reno-jackson-might-be-hearthstones-strongest-card-since-emperor-thaurissan/RIP aggro?Mon, 16 Nov 2015 21:21:58 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/reno-jackson-might-be-hearthstones-strongest-card-since-emperor-thaurissan/BlizzardCard GameesportsPro <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/64R5n6324Bg" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" width="500"> </iframe><p> Sunday saw Jan <a href="https://twitter.com/col_superjj102">‘SuperJJ’</a> Janssen triumph at Seat Story Cup IV, sweeping <a href="https://twitter.com/StanCifka">Stanislav ‘StanCifka’ Cifka</a> <a href="http://live.taketv.net/events/ssc4/bracket">5-0 in the final</a> to claim the $10,000 top prize. It was a name-making performance from SuperJJ and, as happened with last year’s winner <a href="https://twitter.com/archonorange?lang=en">Jon ‘Orange’ Westerberg</a>, he can now expect to enjoy considerably more attention in the competitive Hearthstone scene. But the real star of the show was a feckless adventurer called Reno Jackson.</p><p> Introduced in the first wing of the new League of Explorers adventure last week, Reno Jackson is a new legendary card which reads: “Battlecry: If your deck contains no more than 1 of any card, fully heal your hero.” Being able to restore yourself to full health is clearly a powerful effect, particularly given that the Hearthstone meta has been brutally fast for some time, but the question over the card’s viability concerned the need to run mostly singleton cards in order to ensure Reno’s Battlecry procs when needed.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hMqVZiv0SPeX.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/v2vXKU01xgUY.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="&quot;I healed a man in Reno, just to watch him live...&quot;" class=""><figcaption>"I healed a man in Reno, just to watch him live..."</figcaption></figure><p> Players have been experimenting with Control Warrior and Paladin decks, both of which can afford to run a lot of one-ofs, but the list in which Reno shined for SuperJJ was <a href="http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/superjjs-seatstory-cup-4-reno-jackson-freeze-mage/">Freeze Mage</a>. As it turned out, Reno proved to be effective without having to build the deck in full ‘Highlander’ mode (as in, “there can be only one” of each card). SuperJJ’s Freeze Mage ran eight pairs, and he was still able to trigger Reno consistently, mainly due to the sheer amount of card draw in the deck and the fact that&nbsp;Freeze Mage’s strategy is to stall the game anyway.</p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">freeze</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BlzsvDfPReGL.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/17hPbtPzFL8o.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="SuperJJ Freeze"> </p> </div><p> Check out the video at the top of the page to see it happen the first time in the semi-final, and focus on poor Gaara’s face as he realizes he just lost. As Gaara <a href="https://twitter.com/TempoGaara/status/666089809748869121?lang=en">noted afterwards</a>, he would have won that game had he played Loatheb earlier. But in the final series Reno proved even more devastating as Super JJ’s Freeze Mage went undefeated with Reno triggering giant heals a couple more times along the way.</p><p> So how powerful is the card? There’s a danger in trying to extrapolate likely ladder performance from tournament results. Seat Story Cup uses the <a href="http://wiki.teamliquid.net/hearthstone/Last_Hero_Standing" target="_blank">Last Hero Standing format</a> which allows players to ban particular heroes, and can result in a deck being almost unbeatable due to mismatched lineups. In the final, SuperJJ made the obvious decision to ban StanCifka’s signature Control Warrior deck, because it’s an almost auto-win against Freeze Mage. Bizarrely, Stancifka chose to ban SuperJJ’s <a href="http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/superjjs-seatstory-cup-4-midrange-paladin/">Midrange Paladin</a>, which is a strong deck but certainly not one to create matchups as lopsided as Freeze Mage can. It’s a decision StanCifka, who had played superbly to that point,&nbsp;must surely regret, as the rest of his lineup was poorly equipped to handle SuperJJ’s Reno-powered Mage.</p><p> For better early insight into how Reno decks may fare on ladder, check out <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/CompetitiveHS/comments/3sqv1s/after_50_games_with_reno_jackson/">this thread</a> on the Competitive Hearthstone subreddit. The short answer seems to be that for slower decks which can afford to run a lot of single copies of cards, Reno is going to be a strong&nbsp;tech tool. Bear in mind that the Druid spell Tree of Life costs 9-Mana, and it fullyheals you, your opponent and all the creatures on the board. In contrast, Reno only costs 6 and doesn’t benefit your opponent. He’s way better value and, like Emperor Thaurissan, I think Reno is going to see substantial use in many decks.</p><p> That said, beyond an initial wave of players trying to copy SuperJJ, we probably don’t need to worry about the ladder being overrun by Freeze Mages. For starters, it’s a hard deck to play correctly&mdash;and&nbsp;secondly, if that were to happen it would soon be countered by an upswing in predatory Control Warriors. What we can say for sure, though, is that The League Of Explorers has got off to a great start in terms of introducing cards which may actually alter the meta.</p><p> SuperJJ’s deck also included a copy of the Forgotten Torch burn spell which did some good work, and elsewhere on ladder Summoning Stone and Dark Peddler have already found homes in decks. This week’s <a href="http://hearthstone.gamepedia.com/The_League_of_Explorers#Structure">wing</a> will see the release of another&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-the-20-best-legendary-cards/">powerful legendary</a>,&nbsp;Brann Bronzebeard, whose Battlecry-doubling effect looks potentially even more interesting&nbsp;than Reno’s heal. In fact, played alongside a Healbot you’re guaranteed to restore 16 health without having to build your deck oddly. There are tons of other potentially cool Brann&nbsp;combos, but I’m not sure any of them&nbsp;will be quite as funny as seeing Reno do his thing for the first time.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PRLXvaJ8S0O3.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/giQjYbmyWijD.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="&quot;You get a Battlecry, and you get a Battlecry, and you...&quot;" class=""><figcaption>"You get a Battlecry, and you get a Battlecry, and you..."</figcaption></figure><hr> <p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> The best co-op gameshttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-co-op-games/Grab a friend and enjoy the best co-op games the PC has to offer.Mon, 16 Nov 2015 20:43:12 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-co-op-games/2DActionBest ofFPSHorrorIndieMust ReadPlatformerPuzzleRPG Build of the week: YT-1300 Millennium Falconhttp://www.pcgamer.com/build-of-the-week-yt-1300-millennium-falcon/She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid.Mon, 16 Nov 2015 19:11:17 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/build-of-the-week-yt-1300-millennium-falcon/Build of the weekHardware How to create epic AI battles in Fallout 4http://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-create-epic-ai-battles-in-fallout-4/Set up theultimate post-apocalyptic battle royale.Mon, 16 Nov 2015 18:28:20 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-create-epic-ai-battles-in-fallout-4/BethesdaFallout 4RPG <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rXb9gCh3QL6Z.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9Yqx3Kvmy3LJ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 4"></p><p>If you're anything like me, you saw&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-1000-deathclaws-versus-100-brotherhood-of-steel-soldiers/" target="_blank">this video</a>, showing an AI skirmish between 1,000 Deathclaws and 100 Brotherhood of Steel Knights&nbsp;and thought, "okay, but what if..." There are many different AI baddies in Fallout 4, and most&nbsp;of them hate each other just as much as they hate you. The best thing to do, then&mdash;given that you're a&nbsp;temporally&nbsp;displaced badass in a harsh and unforgiving world&mdash;is to make them fight for your amusement.</p><p>Here's how to do that.</p><p>It's pretty easy, but you'll need a few console commands. You'll also need a battleground. I picked the Red Rocket outside of Sanctuary Hill. It's deserted, and it's a settlement&mdash;meaning&nbsp;you can build a viewing station from which to free-cam about the place without attracting the AI's attention.</p><p>Here are the two most important console commands for forcing the AI to do your bidding:</p><ul><li><strong>tai: </strong>Toggle AI</li><li><strong>tcai: </strong>Toggle combat AI</li></ul><p>The second one really is super-important. Without it, your combatants will instantly demolish each other&nbsp;before you've had a chance to make it a fair fight. AI can be toggled individually, but it's easier to globally disable both. Congratulations, you've made the Commonwealth a utopia of peaceful manikins. You win Fallout.</p><p>Also, while you're messing about in the console, you should do this:</p><ul><li><strong>tgm: </strong>Toggle God mode</li></ul><p>Not only does it&nbsp;ensure you won't accidentally be caught up in the imminent eruption of violence, it also disables Workshop resource costs and gives unlimited carry weight. All in all, it's pretty handy.</p><p>Now to place some guys. To do this, stand where you want your combatants to appear and&nbsp;use the following command:</p><ul><li><strong>placeatme &lt;id&gt; &lt;amount&gt;</strong></li></ul><p>You can find IDs in game, through the help command. I've always found it easier to grab them&nbsp;<a href="http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Portal:Fallout_4" target="_blank">from a wiki</a>.</p><p>For this first test, I'll be pitting&nbsp;five&nbsp;Super&nbsp;Mutant Behemoths ("placeatme&nbsp;000bb7dd 5")&nbsp;against 20&nbsp;Raider Wasters ("placeatme&nbsp;000f757b 20"). All I need to do is turn on&nbsp;"tai" and "tcai", and...</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Nc0FNZceR7SW.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/xBWswtudPTCL.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout Raiders" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p>...Oh god, it's a massacre.</p><p>The raiders need some help, clearly. The problem, it seems, is that they're all carrying crappy pistols, while the Behemoths have fire hydrants that can pummel them into chunks. What if all the raiders had Fat Man missile launchers?</p><p>First, I load myself up with Fat Men and Mini Nukes, using:</p><ul><li><strong>player.additem &lt;id&gt; &lt;amount&gt;</strong></li></ul><p>Then, I&nbsp;open the console, click on a raider, and type:</p><ul><li><strong>openactorcontainer 1</strong></li></ul><p>This opens up their inventory in the container window&mdash;that window you get when you loot, trade or store items. Through this, I can remove a&nbsp;raider's&nbsp;weapon, and replace it with a Fat Man and three nukes. Then, I hit 'T' over the Fat Man to equip it for that raider. Repeat for all 20 raiders, and I've&nbsp;got the best armed bandits this side of Boston.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HWpL0RSdTGKH.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LEG0PVdFaCmW.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout Fat"></p><p>But can they tackle the Super Mutants?</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bR21NAlnBJg?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>That's a yes.</p><p>Sidenote: what's going on with that sword guy. I gave him a sword because I thought the raiders were lacking any melee potential. He's holding it like a gun. Demonstrable proof&nbsp;of a&nbsp;failing&nbsp;post-civilization education&nbsp;system, if I ever saw one.</p><p>This isn't dramatic at all. Maybe the raiders would benefit from an extra challenge? The sort of challenge offered by, let's say, "placeatme 0001db4c 50"? Or, in layman's terms:</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/K9iwFjAbR4aT.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hfTBaaNSFMMU.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Deathclaws"></p><p>50 Deathclaws.</p><p>I was expecting a lot from&nbsp;this, but, well, see for yourself.</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/j4KNUvEHRjs?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>It's clear that the melee classes have a range problem. They can't get close enough to the raiders, because the raiders have 60 miniature nukes. I'm not sure why I didn't spot this sooner, really.</p><p>My solution?</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/DkqYTrjuZFY?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>At which point the game crashed.</p><p><em>If you can't be bothered to create your own crazy battles, suggest some matchups in the comments and I'll attempt to recreate them for a future post. For more Fallout 4, click&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4/" target="_blank"><em>this link right here</em></a><em>.</em></p> What did the Frankfurt group stage reveal about the new Dota 2 meta?http://www.pcgamer.com/what-did-the-frankfurt-group-stage-reveal-about-the-new-dota-2-meta/The fish-man cometh.Mon, 16 Nov 2015 11:12:40 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/what-did-the-frankfurt-group-stage-reveal-about-the-new-dota-2-meta/Dota 2esportsMOBAPro <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RDRGMEs7QNKs.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Ovwhpof0c2Ej.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Shadow Fiend arcana"></p><p> It’s been three months since The International 2015’s conclusion, but competitive Dota is already in full swing with start of the seasonal Dota Majors. The Frankfurt Major isn’t just a massive tournament, but it’s also Valve’s first foray into consistent Dota tournaments outside of The International (and if you're planning on watching this week, you should check out&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-dota-2-frankfurt-major-what-you-need-to-know/">our guide</a>.) Trends set in the now-complete group stage could find themselves repeating in the year to come. So what has The Frankfurt Major revealed about the Dota 2 metagame so far?</p><h3>From the deep, Slardar rises.</h3><p> Slardar has been steadily climbing out of the watery depths since the Sprint buffs in patch 6.85, and at Frankfurt he’s comfortably landed as the 6th most picked/banned hero. The fishy melee initiator has splashed himself into a unique situation: he’s not necessarily a dominating offlaner, but he needs so little to be productive that it doesn’t matter.</p><p> With level 2 Sprint and a pair of brown boots, Slardar moves at a ridiculous 448 movespeed, with unit phasing. That easily supports ganks across the map, and is slippery enough to escape many of the dangerous safelane matchups. Paired with Slithereen Crush providing at least 1.5 seconds of stun and slow, Slardar has all the tools to be a devastating roamer in the first few minutes of play.</p><p> Compared to the similar melee bully Spirit Breaker, Slardar’s stun has a longer duration, a consistent area of effect, provides an additional slow, and isn’t tied to an interruptible charge or random chance. What makes him especially effective after level six is the use of Amplify Damage with other popular heroes like Gyrocopter and Shadow Fiend.</p><h3>Minimizing the value of a Black King Bar is crucial</h3><p> The Black King Bar may be at risk of regicide in the current meta. Many of the heroes that are weak to magic immunity, such as Disruptor and Phoenix, are finding themselves left behind for physical or pure damage threats. By limiting the potential mitigation of Black King Bar, it makes the purchase less worthwhile and existing spells more valuable.</p><p> A hero like Disruptor is almost entirely shut down by a BKB, but a hero like Ancient Apparition or Undying can still operate in the item’s presence, limiting the effectiveness of the purchase. Top picks like Tusk, Winter Wyvern, Doom, and Slardar fall into a similar position: BKB can be a hindrance, but doesn’t nullify their existence.</p><h3>We’re seeing a lot more armor reduction in teams</h3><p> The heavy physical damage brought by anti-BKB teams can stack efficiently when paired with armor reduction items and spells. For instance, Slardar’s Amplify Damage improves the damage of Shadow Fiend, and Shadow Fiend supports Slardar with his armor-lowering aura. Everyone is helping everyone else. By contrast, there are very few ways to synergize magic damage, with only a few debuffs like Skywrath Mage’s Ancient Seal and Ethereal Blade.</p><p> Armor reduction can also have a huge influence on map objectives like Roshan and occasionally towers. Magic damage is much tougher to use on objectives themselves&mdash;it doesn’t scale enough or even work in certain cases. The departure of offensive magic heroes is feels crazy when you consider how common heroes like Lion have been in past events, but they’re just not finding a place in teams today.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/MRAf2ENcS2Gi.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rkUy3qOgfimc.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Img4"></p><h3>Most new or reformed teams couldn’t reach winner’s bracket, except one</h3><p> The post-TI5 roster shuffle left a lot of questions about the stability of newer Dota teams. From the bigger names like Team Secret and Cloud9, to new groupings like Digital Chaos and Monkey Business, no one knew how the revamped teams would fare against the already-established lineups. Unfortunately, most of the fresh compositions fared poorly, with only a single overhauled team transitioning into the winner’s bracket from group play.</p><p> Team Secret successfully dominated their group, only dropping a single game to Newbee.Young. That’s entirely unsurprising, given the veteran talent on Secret. For the other teams with major changes, there’s still time for them to recover in the loser’s bracket. It’s not necessarily their first time competing at this high a skill level, but the added pressure of the three million dollar prize pool and shorter practice time may have left them without enough preparation.</p><p> An added note is the success of teams that were directly invited to The Frankfurt Major. Teams made it to the tournament via direct invite or through a series of qualifiers that spanned continents. Despite the tremendous competition for Frankfurt Major slots, Mineski was the only qualifying team to make it into the winner’s bracket from the group stages. A possible takeaway from their success is that the three month period between Majors may not be enough for new teams to form, qualify, and thrive.</p><h3>All four of the qualifier regions are represented in the winner’s bracket.</h3><p> The Dota Major and International qualifiers divide themselves into four different regions: China, Europe, The Americas, and Southeast Asia. Of the eight teams going into the winner’s bracket, one is American (Evil Geniuses), three are Chinese (LGD, Vici Gaming, CDEC Gaming), three are European (Secret, Vega Squadron, Virtus.pro), and one is Southeast Asian (Mineski). A positive for the international Dota scene, showing that every region is still competitive.</p><p> Despite varied representation, the bulk of winner’s bracket comes from two regions. However, as long as each regional has a competitive team, it can push weaker teams to perform better and improve regions as a whole. It’s when a region is fully unable to place that concern sets in, because without a decently placed team, who’s going to propel a region to the top ranks?</p><p> It is a bit unfortunate for Team Unknown however, as the South American team hasn’t won a single game, and can’t reliably scrim versus North American teams without a ping imbalance. Still, the lessons learned this week may catalyse Team Unknown for the future.</p><p> With playoffs underway now, it’s anyone’s tournament and the meta could shift again. If competitive Dota has taught us anything, it’s that it’s never too late for everything to change.</p><hr><p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> Easily change your FOV settings with this Fallout 4 modhttp://www.pcgamer.com/easily-change-your-fov-settings-with-this-fallout-4-mod/Check out thebest mods we've seen this week.Sun, 15 Nov 2015 14:30:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/easily-change-your-fov-settings-with-this-fallout-4-mod/Cities: SkylinesFallout 4Mod of the WeekMod RoundupMods <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/earwWISCRTCx.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/sV4AC6AoZyT2.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 4"></p><p>This week on the Mod Roundup, we're given&nbsp;an easy&nbsp;way to change our FOV (and other settings) in Fallout 4, and&nbsp;a way to use Fallout 4's&nbsp;VATS combat system&nbsp;in Grand Theft Auto 5. Plus, a&nbsp;mod for Cities: Skylines lets you view your city like a real&nbsp;map, and a full-conversion mod for&nbsp;Ark: Survival Evolved that turns the dinosaur park into a pirate-based paradise.</p><p>Here are the most promising mods we've seen this week.</p><h2>Configuration Tool, for Fallout 4</h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/KZaSk74QST-W.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/85Ns_KiJHpm-.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="F4mod"></p><p>Fallout 4 is here, and with it the start of what we're sure will be years of community tweaks, fixes, and original creations. For the moment, the mod&nbsp;you need most is the Configuration Tool, by modder Bilago, that&nbsp;lets you punch in your desired FOV and have it immediately saved to your .ini file.&nbsp;The only thing easier would be if Bethesda had just included a flippin' FOV slider themselves.&nbsp;The mod also allows other tweaks like a&nbsp;toggle for mouse acceleration, custom resolution, and more.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/102/?">Find it here</a>.</p><p><em>For more, check out our list of the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/best-fallout-4-mods/">best Fallout 4 mods</a> so far, and the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-cheats-and-console-commands-can-turn-you-into-a-superhero/">Fallout 4 console commands</a>.</em></p><h2>Fallout: San Andreas, for GTA 5</h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qoYn0vwvTbup.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Trq5aa1vJxlx.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Gtmod"></p><p>Speaking of Fallout, even if you're not playing it you can get a taste of the action in Grand Theft Auto 5. The Fallout: San Andreas mod is still in the works, but already has a rough branching dialogue system, NPC companions, stealth mode, and even Fallout's VATS combat, where you can slow down time, target various body parts, and see your chances of hitting them. Again, it's still in alpha but it certainly looks promising.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.gta5-mods.com/scripts/fallout-san-andreas-net">You can find it here</a>.</p><h2>Cimtographer, for Cities: Skylines</h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NM_sHu7fSsaN.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/fwhcoWGckUeX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Skymod"></p><p>Want your city to feel like a real city? The Cimtographer Mod for Cities: Skylines allows you to export your city into OSM format. OSM (OpenStreetMap) means you can view your city in the same eye-pleasing way you would any real-world location. Your map will display all your bus stops, train stations, highways, airports, and even cycling paths. Neat!&nbsp;<a href="http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=549792340">Subscribe and find out more here</a>.</p><h2>Pirate World, for&nbsp;Ark: Survival Evolved</h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nz4ciEZDSwCG.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ACLTZUavjl-A.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Arkmod"></p><p>I guess not everyone is into dinosaurs. Pirate World is a full-conversion mod for Ark: Survival Evolved that transforms&nbsp;the dangerous dino sandbox into a pirate playground. With solo and multiplayer, you can sail pirate ships and do battle on the open sea.&nbsp;It's still being developed&mdash;and so is Ark, which is currently in Early Access&mdash;but it's worth a try if you want to replace the stegosaurus with&nbsp;swashbuckling.&nbsp;<a href="http://pirate.arkhungergames.com/">Here's the official site</a>, and you can also&nbsp;<a href="http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=547377246">find it on the Steam Workshop</a>.</p> The week's highs and lows in PC gaming http://www.pcgamer.com/the-weeks-highs-and-lows-in-pc-gaming_Nov13_2015/“If you’ve not got hot takes you’re little people!” bellowed Bryant as PCG prepared for one last job.Sat, 14 Nov 2015 21:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-weeks-highs-and-lows-in-pc-gaming_Nov13_2015/highs and lows <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/21TGqg0IS5Oj.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PWUK9DRI1F7d.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 4 dog"></p><h4>THE HIGHS</h4><p> <strong>James Davenport: The RPGood Life</strong> <br> I can always remember where I was, and who I was, when a new Bethesda game arrived. Because of their scope and density, I associate them more with a sense of place than most media. I was 16 when Oblivion came out. My stealthy Khajiit named Barb was a bit antithetical to my boisterous teen self. What was important during the Oblivion years: football, crushes, eating burgers with four patties, fighting with my dad. A few years later when Fallout 3 came out I had started my freshman year of college. Barb was still stealthy and still antithetical to my awkward young adult self. She was confident, mean sometimes. Important during the Fallout 3 years: punching doors, Frank Zappa’s profundity, Pabst Blue Ribbon. Skyrim met me near the end of my college career in 2011. Barb went Argonian, but stuck with stealth. Priorities then: being angry about paperwork, Tuesday drinking habits, black metal, greek yogurt.</p><p> And here we are in 2015 just after the release of Fallout 4. I’ve moved on from Barb to GRONnifer, and stealth isn’t my M.O. anymore. My personal priorities mostly revolve around eating and acclimating to city life (the buildings, they go into the sky!) rather than being angry about everything. It’s hard to see exactly who I am right now, but I know that by the time the next open-world Bethesda game rolls around, I’ll see 2015 in sharp relief and some overwrought waves of nostalgia will reduce me to a puddle of sad, sappy, super-contented goo. Fallout 4 is far from perfect. Every Bethesda game is. But each functions as a space where I’m forced to get to spend time with myself. When I make the decision to be a jerk, or subvert every obstacle by hacking, the decision extends beyond what I think is ‘cool’ at the time. Those decisions are extensions of me, and so every iterative Barb or GRONnifer isn’t just a character. Wastelands and Tamriel aren’t maps. They’re the places and people I’ve been.&nbsp;</p><p> <strong>Chris Livingston: Can we talk?</strong> <br> I don't like to listen in video games. My typical disposition toward talkative video game characters is: hey, can you shut up so I can play? It's not always the case: I loved a number of characters in the Mass Effect series, and was almost always interested in what they had to say. I'm finding, a bit to my surprise, something similar in Fallout 4. Not with your average wasteland schmoes and quest-givers&mdash;I do still skip a lot of chatter&mdash;but with several of the companions.</p><p> I won't be specific, but two of the companions I've traveled with are really enjoyable to talk to. As you spend time with them, and provided they grow to like you, they'll occasionally pull you aside for a bit of conversation. Ordinarily, a follower in a game wanting a time-out for chit-chat would annoy me, but I'm genuinely excited when these characters want to talk to me, share their thoughts, and tell me more about themselves. And they don't just want to talk to me, either. One follower excused himself and had a brief and entertaining conversation with another NPC, and now I'm just leading him around to other areas, hoping he'll chat with other people. For the first time in a Bethesda game, I'm being a good listener.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ecL5phJ5S9eV.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ed7DEUs_pkqs.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Hearthstone League of Explorers Slide"></p><p> <strong>Tim Clark: BlizzCon too fun, nerf pls</strong> <br> Seeing as BlizzCon ended in a blaze of Linkin Park last Saturday (by which point I was mercifully on a plane), I suppose it can’t be my high of the week. But I will say that if you’ve ever had any inclination to attend a BlizzCon, you should definitely go for it. I generally hate being in any gathering of humanity big enough to fill a minibus, but Blizzard superfans are just so goddamn nice that it was a pleasure drifting between panels, tournaments and interviews as they chattered about DPS maxing, hero choices, and OP decks. A truly special event.</p><p> My actual high, predictably, is the release of Hearthstone’s League of Explorer’s adventure yesterday. I was a little <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstones-league-of-explorers-is-indiana-jones-remade-with-a-posh-murloc/">down on the set</a> after the announcement, because I couldn’t see it remedying some long standing issues with the way the game’s structured and balanced. But while those doubts persist to a degree, I had undervalued how much fun any injection of <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-10-best-hearthstone-cards-from-the-league-of-explorers/">new cards</a> is&mdash;and there are some doozies in here.</p><p> Reno Jackson is already getting brewed into Control Warrior and Priest decks for his powerful mega-heal effect, and the unfancied Summoning Stone seems to be proving surprisingly strong in a new Freeze Mage variant. If you fancy watching some Hearthstone this weekend, check out the Seat Story Cup IV. The “relaxed” vibe (read: “sometimes drunk”) is the antithesis of the World Championships at BlizzCon in terms of seriousness, but Seat Story still has some of the best players in the world competing and casting. Head <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/taketv_hs">here</a> to watch.&nbsp;</p><p> <strong>Wes Fenlon: Free rats! Praise the Vermintide</strong> <br> I haven’t played as much Vermintide as I’d like, but I really dig it: Left4Dead with weighty melee combat and an addictive loot system. I’m glad it’s been successful (300,000 copies!) and I’m glad to see Fatshark patching the game and adding <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/warhammer-end-times-vermintide-to-get-free-dlc-on-december-3/">its first update for free</a>, with improvements and additions to the loot system. Sigmar’s Blessing, the update coming on December 3, adds a new loot class and ways to buff your existing weapons. Also, it won’t be the last bit of free DLC for the game: the rest of the releases will alternate between free and paid. Hopefully the paid updates feel substantial enough to be worth the price. So far, I’m optimistic about Vermintide having some life in it. Now for that mod support, please.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zIEDgfsxTt6C.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oIID9ADhj_Ou.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Don't Starve Together Slide"></p><p> <strong>Tom Senior: Work hard, Klei hard</strong> <br> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/invisible-inc-review/">Invisible, Inc</a> is a turn-based spy game, and one of my favourite games of 2015. <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/mark-of-the-ninja-review/">Mark of the Ninja</a> is a gorgeous 2D stealth game. Don’t Starve is a surreal sandbox survival sim that is very, very hard to switch off. All are free to try this weekend on <a href="http://store.steampowered.com/search/?developer=Klei%20Entertainment">Steam</a>. It’s a great opportunity to sample the works of a studio that’s been quietly producing brilliant stuff for years.</p><p> Perhaps you only have time for one, which to pick? Mark of the Ninja is the most accessible and immediately satisfying of the bunch. Invisible, Inc’s punishing campaigns might seem initially frustrating, but it’s absolutely worth persisting with so you can replay the game at increasingly interesting difficulty levels. Plus, it’s about to get a <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/invisible-inc-dlc-to-add-agents-and-lengthen-campaign/">DLC pack</a> that adds more agents. Don’t starve is great, too, though you’re better off asking Tim about his <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUk2ipH2l8RvLG0dr-rsBiZw&amp;v=W8zTlGxNnrg">271 day survival streak</a> to find out why. Ultimately, Invisible, Inc has my vote, though I do love spies enough to enjoy Alpha Protocol more than it probably deserved.</p><p> <strong>Tom Marks: I want to believe</strong> <br> I think Edmund McMillen might be trolling the most dedicated part of his playerbase, and I love it. I spent my morning researching an <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/an-insane-arg-is-happening-in-the-binding-of-isaac-community-right-now/">absolutely ludicrous Binding of Isaac ARG</a> that may not even be a real thing. It probably is, but we really don’t know yet. Whatever the heck is going on, it’s a whole lot of fun to follow. McMillen commented on my inquiry about it by saying only “bring a shovel!”, which I imagine will be more significant to those down in the dirt already digging through cryptic messages.</p><p> I love ARGs like this. So far none have been able to match the scale and wonder of Valve’s Portal 2 ARG from 2010, and I don’t think this one will get that big, but it’s great to see that weird feeling of wonder and confusion wash over a gaming community again. It’s easy to get caught up in.&nbsp;</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RM0iTQ_wST-D.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Uz8pvSQjeTw4.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Sir Finley Mrrgglton"></p><p> <strong>James Davenport: Hearth-slow down, please!</strong> <br> There’s a new Hearthstone adventure out and with it comes extra incentive for new players to stay away. I’m glad that Blizzard is releasing updates for their wildly successful CCG, but what started out as a convenient way to get into a Magic-esque game is now too expensive to simply hop into. Sure, it’s technically free-to-play, but it feels impossible to be competitive without owning a decent amount of the expansion and adventure cards, none of which come cheap in terms of money or time. I’m not angry, just sad that there aren’t more options for getting into the game and feeling somewhat viable without emptying my wallet&mdash;starter decks, maybe?</p><p> I’m envious of all the Hearthstone talk around the office, and would love to be a part of the club, but a guy’s gotta eat, you know?</p><p> <strong>Tom Senior: Release madness</strong> <br> The release season is here, which means we’re about to be joyfully swept away by a tsunami of exciting new games. For us, it’s a good problem to have, but the rush to capture fall and Christmas sales leaves great games behind. and companies with bigger marketing budgets can bury competitors entirely. We’re all enjoying Fallout 4 this week, but let’s not forget that the beautiful and challenging Galak-Z was also released. Earlier this year Mad Max came out in the same week as Metal Gear Solid 5. Only one sandy sandbox game was going to win that contest.</p><p> It could have been worse. XCOM 2 and Mirror’s Edge 2 have been pushed back to next year, along with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. But that’s how it should be. Good games can do well throughout the year. GTA 5 happily released in April, and I hear that was quite popular.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/n7WISel9TgGk.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/PSNtn6A2o_u6.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 4 Pip Boy Slide"></p><p> <strong>Chris Livingston: Skip-boy</strong> <br> I think the Pip-boy has had its day. I know there's a lot of nostalgic attachment to the enormous smartwatch, and Fallout 4's version is better than it ever was. But sheez, it's still a remarkably bad way to manage your inventory and information. I get the charm of low-tech looks, but the map is, as it always was, pretty terrible to actually use, with blocky icons bleeding into each other until you zoom all the way in on the more crowded areas so you can select the correct one.</p><p> And while you can at least sort inventory by weight and value and a few other stats, it's still not enough. After a typical trip I'm loaded down with tons of armor, especially pieces of armor, and I want to quickly determine which hunk of metal or leather I should strap to my various arms and legs. I can't line up all my right-arm or left-leg parts together, though, to quickly compare them to each other, so there's a lot of repetitive scrolling up and down to find all the left-leg pieces, then all the right-leg pieces, and so on. Same with meds vs. food, where I still need to scroll past dozens of edible bug chunks and monster meats to see how many legit healing drugs I have left. I'm not saying there shouldn't be a Pip-boy in the game&mdash;I'm sure the outrage would reach atomic levels&mdash;but it could sure use some rethinking. Once again, we'll have to see what the modding community comes up with.</p><p> <strong>Tim Clark: Not falling in love</strong> <br> Is it weird that I don’t want to play Fallout 4? It’s not that I think it’s bad, or that the people who love it are somehow wrong, it just leaves me strangely cold in a way that Skyrim never did. I ducked out of Fallout 3 very early following an incredibly frustrating encounter with some fire ants. (It was really... buggy. *puts Caruso shades on*.)</p><p> Having watched around 80 hours of my other half playing the new one on PS4&mdash;the loading times on console are absolutely parlous, by the way&mdash;and seeing her wrestle with two locked out quests due to disappearing mission items, I just have no desire to fire it up on PC. It also sure does look a lot like Fallout 3. I realise this probably marks me out as some sort of tedious contrarian and/or idiot, but I’m just not feeling Fallout 4 right now.</p><p> I think, maybe, an element for me is that if the world’s already been entirely irradiated and ruined, it’s hard to know what I’d be struggling for beyond sweet loot for sweet loot’s sake. (Which, to be fair, is usually enough.) But in Skyrim there was a genuine sense of being integral to the future of this glorious, ice-swept world. But a none-more-brown American hellscape? The mutants can have it.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7ug03tV0RDic.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/sQ7FNH2NlTqz.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Ff Xi"></p><p> <strong>Wes Fenlon: The 13-year odyssey of Final Fantasy XI</strong> <br> I don't think anyone dreamed, 13 years ago, that Final Fantasy XI would be around this long. Once the black sheep of the Final Fantasy family, XI has become Square Enix's most successful game (and biggest moneymaker) ever, maintaining a small but loyal subscriber base for more than a decade. Over that period it's grown and grown, with expansions adding to a story some Final Fantasy fans call the best in the series. <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/final-fantasy-xi-november-update-wraps-up-rhapsodies-of-vanadiel/">Now that story is wrapping up with the game's final updates</a>, and I wish I could enjoy it. I'm pretty sure I'd be bored stiff playing through hundreds of hours of MMO questing and grinding. It's just not my genre. But I'm still left wondering about the 13-year-long story I'm missing out on.</p><p> <strong>Tom Marks: The PC Gamer Show in limbo</strong> <br> Our office move is going very well, but we don’t still don’t quite have a podcasting studio fully setup yet, which means <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-pc-gamer-show/">The PC Gamer Show</a> is still happening over VoIP. It’s <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-pc-gamer-show-fallout-4-blizzcon-2015-and-more_podcast/">going great</a> still (and I highly recommend you all tune in to it) but you can’t quite beat the feeling of everyone being in the same room together. Luckily we’ll only have one more week of doing the show like this and then it’s back to regular business!&nbsp;</p> Stop blaming RNG in Hearthstonehttp://www.pcgamer.com/stop-blaming-rng-in-hearthstone/...plus why nerfs are bad and the game is actually highly skilled.Fri, 13 Nov 2015 22:24:58 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/stop-blaming-rng-in-hearthstone/BlizzardBlizzconCard GameHearthstoneProVideo <figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5FK9rwHnQf6g.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HfNal0MIlxhO.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Will it be a Captain's Parrot or a King Krush? Only RNG supremo Ram Wrangler knows!" class=""> <figcaption>Will it be a Captain's Parrot or a King Krush? Only RNG supremo Ram Wrangler knows!</figcaption></figure> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Shevek bio</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/DRkLGW-5Tgy1.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/DlU07R5ifotq.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Shevek"> </p> <p> During time off from his career as a composer, Shevek has established himself in the Hearthstone semi-professional scene by writing a weekly strategy column for Team Archon. He is a caster and player for RudeHouse Gaming, streaming several days a week&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twitch.tv/shevek18">here</a>. You can also&nbsp;follow him on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/Shevvek?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor">here</a>.&nbsp; </p> </div><h4>RNG is not out of control</h4><p> Cards with random effects&mdash;or ‘RNG’, which stands for Random Number Generator&mdash;have been Hearthstone’s hallmark going back all the way to beta. Between randomly distributed damage, randomly summoned minions, and other effects applied to random targets, it can seem like games are often decided by so much randomness that there is little room left for players to show their skill.</p><p> This is exactly backwards. A superior understanding of probability is what enables pros like <a href="https://twitter.com/naviostkaka?lang=en">Ostkaka</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/navixixo">Xixo</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/Archon_Firebat?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor">Firebat</a>, and <a href="https://twitter.com/HL_JAB">Jab</a> to place at the top of ladder and tournaments practically every season. These players are no more lucky than anybody else, but they are experts at taking calculated risks, so when they do get lucky, it wins the game every time. The real skill is not in the top decked Blade Flurry for lethal: it’s in the Eviscerate played on the opponent’s face the turn before, despite a threatening board, knowing that four extra damage will enable a ‘lucky’ draw to win the game.</p><p> The consistency of top players is borne out by statistics. The dramatic drop in player numbers at high ladder ranks is&nbsp;<a href="http://notes.davegottlieb.com/post/122681963133/wip-learning-skill-distribution-without-knowing">consistent with a deeply skilled game</a>. If Hearthstone were actually overrun by randomness, we would not see the same players outperforming the field again and again. RNG is not the reason you can’t climb the ladder.&nbsp;</p><p> Here are some other common misconceptions about the game, and examples of thinking that is holding players back from improving..</p><h4>Hearthstone is not an easy game</h4><p> Despite the statistical evidence that Hearthstone is difficult and skilled, many pros do themselves a disservice by insisting it’s an easy game. Part of the problem is that the game itself provides very little feedback to help people improve, because it’s designed to make new players feel powerful and comfortable. As a result, players that want to get good often feel helpless. This is in stark contrast to other competitive games, like CS:GO, where new players are immediately aware of which mechanical skills they need to practice.</p><p> When Hearthstone games go wrong, an early and seemingly inconsequential decision is usually to blame. A Hunter vs Hunter match can be lost on turn two simply by playing a Knife Juggler instead of a Mad Scientist; they are both strong 2-mana minions, but the Juggler’s death has no impact beyond whatever it costs to remove, while the Mad Scientist deploys a trap that can protect minions played the following turn, potentially securing board control for the rest of the game. While obvious to an experienced player, there is no reason a new player looking back would notice this mistake because the game gives no prompting. At higher levels, the same issue holds true for more esoteric decisions.</p><p> Without constructive criticism from the Hearthstone client, it’s unsurprising that many players end up blaming a lack of balance and abundance of RNG for their failure to climb the ladder. It doesn’t help that few people can emotionally grasp that a long streak of, say, 15 winning or losing games may still be just meaningless variance, which will even out in a sample size of several hundred games.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NDdo6UtFRWyG.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HqDMUnMHsIjD.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="25 Hearthstone"></p><h4>There is no virtue in playing weak decks</h4><p> Common sense dictates that in a game like Hearthstone there will always be one or two decks that are dominant. Way back when it was Murloc Warlock, then Buzzard-Unleash Hunter, then Miracle Rogue, then Zoo, then Undertaker Hunter, Sea Giant Shaman, Face Hunter, Midrange Paladin, Combo Druid, Patron Warrior&hellip; and on and on. Right now it’s Secret Paladin. Good strategies are frustrating to play against. That’s literally part of what makes them good. But don’t confuse your frustration with losing as proof that the game is badly balanced. I see so many players outraged that they can’t win consistently, who also decry the strongest decks in the game because they don’t like the play style, or feel that choosing to play as Aggro Druid or Secret Paladin is in some way a moral failure. Trust me, it’s far more fun to play strong decks and win&nbsp;than to avoid them and complain.</p><h4>Strategic variety is healthy</h4><p> The current Hearthstone ladder is more balanced and diverse than most seasons I can remember since beta. A good player can win with practically any sound strategy (which can be frustrating in itself, since it isn’t obvious what deck a weaker player should use). That said, tempo decks, which focus on playing the strongest minion possible every turn and trading for incremental board advantage, are noticeably stronger than other archetypes right now. Secret Paladin is the biggest example of a powerful deck that uses this strategy, but Dragon Priest, Zoo, and Druid also fall into the same category.</p><p> The prevalence of tempo and midrange decks over aggro, control, and combo was the focus of much community complaint in the run up to last week’s BlizzCon World Championships, but we shouldn’t be surprised. Remember when face aggro Hunter was the best deck in the game? Or when combo Rogue or Warrior was the top deck? The community DEMANDED that Blizzard make the game more interactive on the board. And imagine if a true control deck were strong&mdash;I mean like Fatigue Mage, not just a tempo deck with a few expensive minions&mdash;the community would be furious about all the long, boring, frustrating games. Tempo and midrange decks are all that is left because Blizzard listened to the complaints. If we want a more stylistically diverse game, we need to become more mature as a community about strategic variety.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hnQQBDisRaOi.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/CuK1WuGkXC07.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Secret Paladin Cropped"></p><h4>You need to beat strategies, not specific cards</h4><div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">Mysterious Challenger</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/siColscsROaB.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/SKl8Eeogg8EF.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Hearthstone Mysterious Challenger"></p></div><p> Mysterious Challenger is the strongest 6-mana minion ever printed. Like Dr. Boom, there is no single card that can deal with both its body and its battlecry, nor is there another card that can go toe-to-toe with it for the same cost. The Secret Paladin deck, supercharged by Mysterious Challenger, is particularly oppressive at lower ladder ranks, due to the relative simplicity of piloting the deck compared to the complexity of defeating it.</p><p> Going into BlizzCon, I expected that Blizzard would announce some five- or six-mana threats that would compete with the power level of Mysterious Challenger. That didn’t happen, and in fact Secret Paladin got some new potentially strong cards in Anubisath Sentinel and Keeper of Uldaman.</p><p> Nonetheless, I am cautiously optimistic. Instead of encouraging other classes to match Secret Paladin with minions cost-for-cost, duplicating the same tempo strategy, Blizzard has provided tools that fit in removal-focused control decks. Aggro decks like Face Hunter already do well against Secret Paladin by setting up a winning position on turns 1-5. The League of Explorers adventure may enable control decks to do the same thing.</p><p> Excavated Evil clears the board a turn before Mysterious Challenger can come down, and sometimes gives the tempo player a useless card draw, a momentum-halting one-two punch for Priests facing Secret Paladins, aggressive Druids, and Warlock Zoos. Cursed Blade, while making Warriors vulnerable to Face Hunter and other fast aggression, also gives them a tool to start clearing enemy minions a turn earlier than was before possible, stalling the early snowball that wins so many games for Secret Paladin. Indirect tools like these are more healthy for Hearthstone in the long run than community's&nbsp;hoped-for hard counter to Mysterious Challenger.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/586wquFWT4qt.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2O2FdkuN_Zms.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Reynad removed cards for interview Hearthstone"></p><h4>Nerfing strong cards is bad</h4><p> It is by now reflex for the community to ask Blizzard to nerf the most powerful decks, but I think this is backwards. Hearthstone doesn't suffer from too many overpowered cards, it suffers from too few truly powerful cards. Powerful cards are exciting and fun! Nobody plays collectible card games so they can drop vanilla minions on curve. They do it so they can discard their whole deck on turn 2, then pull the biggest, scariest monster in the game back from the dead just before their opponent would kill them! I say bring on the power creep, so long as every class gets some.</p><hr> <p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> We have 20,000 Total War: Arena closed beta keys to give awayhttp://www.pcgamer.com/total-war-arena-closed-beta/Get a free Steam code for Creative Assembly's multiplayer strategy battlefield.Fri, 13 Nov 2015 18:51:23 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/total-war-arena-closed-beta/MOBAStrategyTotal War: Arena <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/a1PyyyPl3b8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.totalwar.com/arena" target="_blank">Total War: Arena</a> closed beta launched in North America yesterday, opening up the multiplayer strategy battles to the US, Canada, and Mexico. Creative Assembly is celebrating the new&nbsp;server base&nbsp;with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twitch.tv/totalwarofficial" target="_blank">a livestream</a> at 3 pm Pacific today, and so you can join in, they've&nbsp;given us 20,000 Steam keys to give away.</p><p> If you want one, all you need to do is enter your email address in the form below. Give it a bit of time, and as long as there are codes remaining, you should get a shiny new one in your inbox. To redeem your code, head to the&nbsp;<a href="http://store.steampowered.com/" target="_blank">Steam client</a>, select 'Games' from the menu, and then 'Activate a Product on Steam.' Happy warring!</p><iframe id="gdkframe" width="730" height="315" src="http://eb.godankey.com/?id=QkdWVk9BMDRBV3M9&amp;bg=383838&amp;font=ff0052" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> The best pro gaming to watch this weekendhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-pro-gaming-to-watch-this-weekend-7/As BlizzCon ends, the Dota 2 competitive scene fires back up.Fri, 13 Nov 2015 17:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-pro-gaming-to-watch-this-weekend-7/Card GameCounter-Strike: Global OffensiveDota 2esportsFightingFPSHearthstoneMOBAProUltra Street Fighter IV <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LGoM5BPsQXi9.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/jM2eWQ0BpX_j.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Lina Arcana"></p><p> BlizzCon is behind us, and the League of Legends World Championship has become a memory. Things are relatively quiet in the land of CS:GO and StarCraft II as Dreamhack Winter approaches, and the Smite scene is deep in preparation for the Super Regionals in Atlanta next week. Dota 2 takes centre stage this weekend, then, as the first-ever Major gets underway in Frankfurt. If you are not a fan of world-class wizard-clicking, we’ve got North American CS:GO, a little Hearthstone, and some Ultra Street Fighter IV.</p><hr> <h3>Dota 2: The Frankfurt Major</h3><p> The group stages for the Frankfurt Major are running now and continue tomorrow. Nobody is getting eliminated this weekend, but these games will determine who begins next week’s main event in the lower bracket, a single game from elimination. It’s been an exciting tournament so far, with upsets within the first couple of hours. Play begins at 10:00 am GMT/02:00 am PST and continues throughout the day. You can follow the games on <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/dotamajor">Twitch</a> or via the <a href="http://www.dota2.com/watch">official Dota 2 streaming site</a>. Need more information? Check out <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-dota-2-frankfurt-major-what-you-need-to-know/">our guide</a>.</p><h3>Counter-Strike Global Offensive: iBUYPOWER Cup</h3><p> The best North American CS:GO teams go to war for a slice of $100,000 at the Santa Ana eSports Arena. This is a chance to see a different scene duke it out, and an opportunity for US fans to finally get to watch some pro Counter-Strike on their own timezone. Games will be broadcast on <a href="http://twitch.tv/iBUYPOWER">Twitch</a> throughout the weekend. A schedule isn’t available yet, but you’ll hopefully be able to find more information on the <a href="http://www.ibuypower.com/Site/IBP-Cup">official site</a> when the event is underway.</p><h3>Hearthstone: SeatStory Cup IV</h3><p> Only a week after the World Championship at BlizzCon, the Hearthstone scene is still going. Freshly-crowned champion Ostkaka will join plenty of other pros in Germany for a shot at $10,000. Play has been running for a couple of days already and will conclude on Sunday. The games begin at 13:00 pm GMT/05:00 am PST and will be livestreamed <a href="http://live.taketv.net/stream/taketv_hs">right here</a>.</p><h3>Ultra Street Fighter IV: Capcom Pro Tour Asia Finals 2015</h3><p> This is a chance to see some very high level Street Fighter with lots of interesting matchups. The Pro Tour Asia Finals will be played in a round-robin format, meaning that everybody will play everybody else: no early eliminations here. The tournament runs all weekend in Singapore, with play beginning at 04:00 am GMT/20:00 pm PST&mdash;subtract a day for the US times, because timezones. You can watch all of the games <a href="http://live.capcomprotour.com/">here</a>.</p><hr> <p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> Chaos Reborn reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/chaos-reborn-review/A fine return for one of gaming’s oldest tactical classics.Fri, 13 Nov 2015 14:58:09 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/chaos-reborn-review/Chaos RebornReviewsStrategy <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">NEED TO KNOW</h5> <p> <strong>What is it?</strong> A magical duel for between 2 and 4 players, where spells cut the air and summoned monsters battle it out&hellip; unless the spells fizzle out, which they often do.<br> <strong>Influenced By:</strong> Magic &amp; Mayhem<br> <strong>Reviewed On</strong>: i7, GTX 970, 8GB RAM<br> <strong>Alternatively:</strong> King’s Bounty<br> <strong>Expect to pay:</strong> £15 / $20<br> <strong>Release: </strong>Out Now<br> <strong>Publisher: </strong>Snapshot Games<br> <strong>Developer:</strong> Snapshot Games<br> <strong>Website:&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://www.chaos-reborn.com/">Official site&nbsp;</a><br> <strong>Multiplayer: </strong>2-4 (deathmatch and co-op)<br> </p> </div><p> Your love for or frustration with Chaos Reborn, the remake of that Julian Gollop game that’s not Laser Squad or X-COM, hinges on one question: do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, no doubt lovely and intelligent person? It’s a game of surprising depth and complexity, where wizards wage war with powerful spells and summoning hideous beasts to fight in their name&mdash;but it’s also one where, totally guaranteed, your dragon with a 90% chance to clobber the enemy in the next hex will fail miserably five times in a row, only to be casually annihilated by a passing goblin.</p><p> This isn’t so much a design choice as a line drawn in the sand, not between good and bad, but by a philosophical divide almost as deep&mdash;exactly as Hearthstone players are currently torn between appreciating its random elements for spicing up rounds and objecting to each new element that puts success at the whim of invisible dice, which detracts from the purity of deck-building and skill based play.</p><p> As with Hearthstone, it’s not that simple. Chaos Reborn is a fiendish game on its own terms, and one with a high skill ceiling. Managing luck is simply part of that. When summoning a card or casting a spell, you only have a percentage chance of it actually working. If it doesn’t, you burn the card. However, that chance is malleable in a couple of basic ways. You can cast&nbsp;magic to slowly bring the general aura of the map over to either Law or Chaos, making your spells and summons more effective, or spend mana points to directly boost the chances of a spell creating a snarling hellbeast instead of a sad magic fizzle.</p><p>Every move counts. Games of Chaos Reborn are short, and each one only allows one move and attack per unit, and one spell or summon. High ground gives huge bonuses for attacking, and huge disadvantages for enemies below. Spells like Tangle Vine can cut off incoming units, only for your rival to fly a Pegasus over the top of a nearby hill. By default, each wizard is weak and barely able to clonk a Gooey Blob, but give them a mount like an elephant, a Magic Sword and Magic Shield, and suddenly they become a monster killing machine. Even the height of creatures matters. Every one has its specialities to remember and use, like the Paladin's ability&nbsp;to strike back, and Undead ones' immunity&nbsp;to mundane attacks. There’s a good selection, but not too many&mdash;it’s a manageable army, with every unit carefully chosen to pull its weight in a world where one lucky/successful hit from a Rat is as good as a Hellhound bite.</p><p>The random element never goes away, and leads to more cries of "bullshit!" than an overly-enthusiastic poop-identification club’s annual trivia competition. But it’s the layering of the elements that soon takes priority. The terrain control, the psychology, the preparation and twisting the numbers in your favour, all of it makes rounds of Chaos Reborn as tense and tactical as more predictable games like the esteemed Advance Wars series. It’s also fair, generally. For every moment where the RNG turns round and punches you in the face, it’ll have done it to your opponents. It’s just that those moments are never going to sit as sour.</p><p>A good example of the two sides meeting is Chaos’ most controversial mechanic, Illusions. These allow you to cast any summon with 100% success, with the Illusion hitting and acting just like the real thing&mdash;the catch being that if the other wizard guesses that it’s not real, they can cast the always-available Disbelieve spell on it and wipe it from existence without even burning up that turn’s cast. Reborn talks about itself in terms of poker as much as anything else, and it’s a good metaphor&mdash;you play the cards you have, but you also have to play your opponent.</p><p>The meat of Chaos Reborn is in the raw tactical game, played between two and four players on simple but attractive hex fields. Equipped mode offers an upgrade system where you can swap gold for gear like Talismen and Staffs to improve and customise your wizard as they level up. You don’t pick specific spells, like in a CCG, but your gear does skew the draws in your chosen direction and offers advantages like boosts to specific spells that you can build a playstyle around.</p><p>There’s also a single-player mode called Realms of Chaos, which plays like a simplified Disciples/Age of Wonders. This gives you a map to explore. You must&nbsp;recruit helpers in towns and fight a timer to avoid being Banished. It’s not a mode worth buying the game for in and of itself, but it’s a well-implemented and surprisingly comprehensive bonus feature on top of the core skirmish action, with just enough scripting and scope to let good worlds stand out.</p><p>Chaos Reborn lives and dies on its combat though, and it hasn’t lost any of its charm since the original version. Sadly, the community is a small one, which can make&nbsp;it hard to get a good game going. That in turn puts&nbsp;more reliance than there should be on the single-player side. It deserves a bigger player-base though, as provided you embrace its fundamental love of random chance and don't mind rolling with punches, it’s a fantastic tactical game with far more than luck on its side.</p> Fallout 4 vs. MGS 5: Which has the best dog?http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-vs-mgs-5-which-has-the-best-dog/Who will be PC Gamer's Dog of the Year?Thu, 12 Nov 2015 23:51:39 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-vs-mgs-5-which-has-the-best-dog/Best ofFallout 4Metal Gear Solid 5RPGStealth <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vmK6n6HfQpSi.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/fNNiNWekscbo.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Dog vs Dog without text 2" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p><em>Dogs.</em> Who are they? What do they do? Where do their barks really come from? While we can’t answer the oldest canine questions, we at PC Gamer know a thing or two about which dogs are better than others, especially in PC video games.</p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">What is dog?</h5> <p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="GrimySeveralEmperorshrimp (gfyCat video) " data-id="GrimySeveralEmperorshrimp" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"> </p> </div><p> There have been some gorgeous dogs in games throughout the years&mdash;they’re the only reason we remember Call of Duty: Ghosts, for instance&mdash;but in 2015, two standout specimens captured the attention of game-playing canine literate: D-Dog from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/metal-gear-solid-5/" target="_blank">Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain</a> and Dogmeat from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4/" target="_blank">Fallout 4</a>. Appropriately, each publisher used dog imagery and bark evocation to appeal to the hardcore dog crowd. It worked: the games came out to mass critical acclaim, and now nearly every comment thread on either game eventually devolves into a dogged debate on absolute dogness. So, it’s time we kenneled the tired question: who is the better video game dog?</p><p> I couldn’t properly judge the two specimens without proper guidance, so I turned to the American Kennel Club for a crash course on dog value. It didn’t take long to understand. The AKC’s <a href="https://images.akc.org/pdf/events/conformation/GESHW1.pdf">beginner’s guide</a> borders on poesy with its bullseye description of why we dog people do what they do: “Showing dogs is a great sport where the thrill of competition is combined with the joy of seeing beautiful dogs.” Wow. But since we’re a video game publication dealing with dogs that don’t exactly ‘exist,’ we had to tweak the AKC’s rules just a bit&mdash;let’s call ourselves an ‘unofficial extension’ of the AKC, then, hereby known as the PC Gamer Virtual Kennel Club. And for the first time ever, this instantly prestigious organization will be giving out the much sought after PC Gamer VKC Blue Ribbon Award. Let the show begin!</p><hr> <h2>Criteria</h2><p> First, we need to define the criteria by which our contestants will be judged. In an AKC dog show, dogs are judged by how well each conforms to their breed standard, the reason being that, “The dog’s conformation (overall appearance and structure) is an indication of the dog’s ability to produce quality puppies.” Tell you what, I don’t know a joy greater in this world than a Quality Puppy&trade;. So, even though these virtual dogs’ true ability to spit out perfect pups is based on a programmed ability to do so, we’ll play along, but throw in some game-specific criteria as well.</p><p> Dogmeat is obviously a <a href="http://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/americankennelclub/GermanShepherdDog.pdf">German Shepherd</a>, so we’ll have no trouble determining his worth.</p><p> D-Dog is tricky. Big Boss finds him in Afghanistan, and he looks pretty similar to a <a href="http://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/americankennelclub/SiberianHusky.pdf">Siberian Husky</a>. The implication is that he’s part wolf, though, and without AKC approved guidelines for wolf conformity, we’ll have to play some dog show jazz.</p><hr> <h2>Height</h2> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">The Wicket</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WlNIfjVXTCGg.PNG" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/jHGW6LZnEVcJ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Wickets - Measuring Tool" class="hoverZoomLink"> </p> <p> Not a surgical tool, just a harmless measurement device used to determine a dog’s worth! </p> </div><p> Each dog has an estimated healthy height as determined by the AKC (22 to 24 inches for German Shepherds, 21 to 23.5 inches for Siberian Huskies), but MGS and Fallout 4 don’t have virtual wickets included in the game. It’s a pretty big oversight, but as a resourceful dog fan, I’m not ready to go paws up quite yet (unless we’re talking bellyrubs).&nbsp;Dogs aren’t measured from the head, as might be expected. They’re actually measured from the withers, which is essentially the base of the neck above the front legs. Since we don’t have a comparable method for measuring the dogs (Four Nuka Colas stacked? Four dead guards high?) the PCG standard will aim for overall size potential, because the bigger the dog, the more places to get some good scratching in.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/m0aYms_oTcOP.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/XmL7q2GGTxfq.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Scale Both Dogs"></p><p> <strong>Dogmeat:</strong> Hop into the console, click on Dogmeat, and type ‘setscale 10’. <br> <strong>D-Dog:</strong> Half a Big Boss-ish.</p><h4> Winner: Dogmeat</h4><p> <strong> D-Dog is pretty damn big and intimidating, but with a few tweaks in the console, Dogmeat can grow to the size of a certain big (red) dog and fulfill a few childhood fantasies.</strong></p><hr> <h2>Proportion</h2><p> The AKC conformity generally states that each specimen should be longer than they are tall. I think that’s a pretty silly rule, especially if a dog chooses to walk on two feet like a person. A good dog shouldn’t be judged on something they can’t necessarily control anyway. But a dog can control how fit and nimble they are, which leads to good muscle and bone health. Basically, the PCG standards for conformity are thus: which dog is more jacked?</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/pUSHR0yTSAWf.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Q09GwDpaT71j.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Both Profile dogs"></p><p> <strong>Dogmeat: </strong>A bit wiry from all those irradiated snacks. <br> <strong>D-Dog:</strong> Jacked. Look at those broad shoulders. Phew.</p><h4> <strong>Winner:</strong> D-Dog</h4><p> <strong> Dogmeat, we know it’s hard out there in the wasteland, but maybe start lifting heavier bones and chomping down a few more mirelurks to meet that protein quota. Don’t forget the Rad-X though.</strong></p><hr> <h2>Substance</h2><p> The AKC conformity for substance varies for each breed, but none are a fun read. Essentially, dogs get penalties for excess weight. Dogs are getting jipped for eating all those bones we throw. And we should be throwing bones, because dogs are great and deserve them. So we’ve altered the standard for conformity yet again as a passive aggressive punitive measure against the AKC for implying dogs shouldn’t be chomping on whatever sauce they can. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, but only because we’re withholding treats for points. Shame. Anyway, since video game dogs don’t have to worry about food, the PCG standards for conformity will be based on the amount of polygons each has. More polygons means a prettier pup.</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="SpeedyShrillEel (gfyCat video) " data-id="SpeedyShrillEel" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><p> <strong>Dogmeat:</strong> Knows how to rub in the dirt, looks like a cardboard puppet doing it. <br> <strong>D-Dog:</strong> Super detailed, fluid, tail and panting animations. I could watch it forever.</p><h4> <strong>Winner: </strong>D-Dog</h4><p> <strong> Dang. Going on record as saying that is <em>The Best Panting Animation of All Time</em>.</strong></p><hr> <h2>Gait</h2><p> According to AKC conformity, most breeds should have a smooth, seemingly effortless gait. They should be quick and light without tripping up. I can get into it. Fallout 4 and MGS5 both feature dogs that can’t afford to be clumsy, lest they trip and fall into a pool of radioactive goo or alert the guards and get torn up by an APC. So PCG is mostly with the AKC on this one, except that I doubt there is a WalkBad function buried in either of their code. We’ll thus be altering the standard for conformity to give each dog a bonus for their lack of adherence to their intended adherence to physics. True video game dog athleticism requires grace in routine movement, but it also requires grace in flying through the air to body slam mutant&nbsp;molerats.</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="SilverGargantuanAfricangoldencat (gfyCat video) " data-id="SilverGargantuanAfricangoldencat" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><p> <strong>Dogmeat: </strong> <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/fo4/comments/3s9wsx/dogmeats_does_a_midair_kill_against_a_mole_rat/">This happened.</a> <br> <strong>D-Dog:</strong> He gets carried away by a big balloon sometimes, so what?</p><h4> <strong>Winner: </strong>Dogmeat</h4><p> <strong> A flying dog is a flying dog.</strong></p><hr> <h2>Coat</h2><p> AKC coat conformity descriptions have more descriptive words for hair than I ever thought possible. Ideally the coat should be well-maintained, never too coarse, but not too silky either&mdash;in the general region of impossible. Dog hair standards are out of control. The best kind of dog hair is the kind you find on your black t-shirts after every wash, even if your dogs live a few states away. Since Dogmeat and D-Dog are usually covered in a combination of blood, dirt, fish guts, and or horse shit, we’ll focus on a better area of dog representation: fashion. Who wears what, and who wears it best?</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/I_VJ9p7uTBOG.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/B_Qxzdm7_CmM.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fashion Both Dogs"></p><p> <strong>Dogmeat:</strong> It’s possible to equip Dogmeat with a small assortment of puppy paraphernalia, such as a red bandana and blacksmith goggles. It just might be the second cutest thing on this planet... <br> <strong>D-Dog:</strong> ...Because the cutest thing is the aplomb with which D-Dog can pull off&nbsp;battle dress. Each of D-Dog’s outfits is a slick combination of both function and style.</p><h4> <strong>Winner:</strong> D-Dog</h4><p> <strong> While Dogmeat’s bandana and dog raider armor are to die for, D-Dog’s canine knife sheath and battle dress have looks that will literally kill.</strong></p><hr id="horizontalrule"> <h2>Temperament</h2><p> AKC conformity for temperament is different for each breed. There are huge digressions about what it means for a dog to be ‘full of life’ or calm and collected. I get that these writers are really into their practice and want to be as specific and romantic as possible. This is a dramatic competitive sport, after all. But every massive wall of dog temperament text could be chopped, seasoned, and reduced in a pan over a low heat to one savory characteristic: is the dog chill? Does your dog know how to get riled up and have a good time? Can they nap and catch up on shows without a whimper? If so, then the dog is chill. We at PCG will use chillness as our standard for dog temperament conformity and you should too.</p><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="LimpingYawningArgali (gfyCat video) " data-id="LimpingYawningArgali" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><p> <strong>Dogmeat: </strong>You can point to drugs and Dogmeat will grab the drugs and bring them to you. <br> Sometimes, he’ll even bring you surprise drugs. <br> <strong>D-Dog:</strong> He’ll stab a guy. That’s some hairtrigger loyalty, sure, but I worry about D-Dog’s agency.</p><h4> <strong>Winner:</strong> Dogmeat</h4><p> <strong> D-Dog will kill for you, but as Big Boss, that’s old hat. Dogmeat makes sure your pretty colors quota is up to standard in a dreary post-apocalypse. That’s puppy love.</strong></p><hr> <h2>VKC&nbsp;Blue Ribbon winner</h2><p> <img class="gfyitem" alt="MadPracticalDalmatian (gfyCat video) " data-id="MadPracticalDalmatian" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><h3>D-Dog!</h3><p> Dogmeat is great, don’t get me wrong, but D-Dog takes the meat pie. Dogmeat is caring and loyal, but not really in it with the player. D-Dog is there from the get-go, the moment he waddles up in the desert and yips and yaps slew me on the spot&mdash;not with a knife, but with love at first sight. Sure, it’s a bit disconcerting that he’ll kill anyone and everyone without a second thought, and sure, D-Dog can’t actually fly without help&mdash;that’s just the thing though. D-Dog and the willing player form a symbiosis. They depend on one another to be the best (stealth infiltrators) they can be. On top of that, no other dog this year looked as fit or functioned better.</p><p><em> Congratulations, D-Dog, you truly are a good boy.</em></p><h3></h3> The 10 best Hearthstone cards from The League of Explorers according to the proshttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-10-best-hearthstone-cards-from-the-league-of-explorers/We took a look atwhich League of Explorerscards Hearthstone's top players are excited for.Thu, 12 Nov 2015 21:32:10 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-10-best-hearthstone-cards-from-the-league-of-explorers/Blizzard EntertainmentCard GameHearthstonePro Fallout 4 gallery: vistas of the Wastelandhttp://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-gallery-vistas-of-the-wasteland/For being such a horrible place, the Wasteland sure looks nice.Thu, 12 Nov 2015 20:42:31 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-gallery-vistas-of-the-wasteland/Fallout 4Pixel BoostRPG Bob Ross’ The Joy of Dotahttp://www.pcgamer.com/bob-ross-the-joy-of-dota/Don't forget! It's your game of Dota 2.Thu, 12 Nov 2015 17:30:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/bob-ross-the-joy-of-dota/Dota 2MOBAProThree Lane Highway <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/REPzK9VBS3ad.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5CD58WxYI1g1.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Treant Protector"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Three Lane Highway</h5> <p> Every week, Chris documents his complex ongoing relationship with Dota 2 and wizards in general.&nbsp;To read more Three Lane Highway, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/three-lane-highway/">click here</a>.&nbsp; </p> </div><p> Pretending to be Axe for an entire game of solo ranked Dota 2 <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-great-dota-2-social-axe-periment/">turned out better than I’d expected</a>. I got my +25 MMR, I enjoyed a long, dramatic game, and I got to shout in all caps the entire time. I left it feeling that I’d finally found the One Simple Trick that could make playing like this fun.</p><p> If the big important take is that taking solo ranked less seriously is a good way to combat MMR anxiety, then the smaller and subtler take is that adopting a completely different personality makes it easier to deal with the people that matchmaking clumps you together with. People can't get personal when they're not really yelling at <em>you</em>.</p><p> With that in mind, I wanted to continue experimenting with personalities. Axe represents one end of the spectrum&mdash;big, brash, aggressive&mdash;but what lies on the other end? What would it mean to play an entire Dota game as somebody calm, supportive, and encouraging? Somebody who once said this, regarding his military career?</p><p> "The job requires you to be a mean, tough person. And I was fed up with it."</p><p> What would it mean to play an entire game of Dota 2 as the hero the internet did not know it needed, Bob Ross?</p><p> The pieces fell into place very quickly. Bob Ross was a positive, calm and instructive man. He left a demanding and sometimes hostile job in order to make a publically-broadcast show intended to spread a love of art. He did the show for free, making money instead from art supplies. Bob Ross might not actually be a Dota hero, but I knew immediately which Dota hero he would be if he was: Bob Ross is Treant Protector. He's a big, happy, supportive tree.</p><p> I change my Steam avatar to Ross' iconic headshot and my Steam name to 'Bob Ross'. I get in the queue. This is what happens next.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RS_-hgwATii8.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/scdDg7ymuRzn.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Bob Ross Dota Pregame 1"></p><p> I lock Treant Protector straight away and introduce both myself and the game. It's important to open positive, to lead with the end result and explain how anybody&mdash;yes, even you!&mdash;can get there. In this case: you might feel like MMR gains are beyond you, but Bob Ross is here to prove that they are not.</p><p> Immediately after I type this, somebody starts typing a lot in Russian. They lock Legion Commander and call the jungle. I assume they're asking if that's alright. "It's your jungle, Legion Commander!" I reply. "Just follow your dreams." The response is in Russian.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ofoNIm9-RBe0.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5V8WM0pT9eyN.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Bob Ross Dota Pregame 2"></p><p> One player locks Weaver offlane and somebody else takes Huskar mid. This irritates Legion Commander, who switches to English in order to demand that everybody report Weaver. While this is happening, I'm encouraging the remaining player to take Anti-Mage to the safelane with me: after all, who am I to judge? It's their game of Dota. Nonetheless, my attempts to calm Legion Commander down do not appear to be working.</p><p> We roll into the game with Treant Protector, Anti-Mage, Legion Commander, Huskar and Weaver. We're up against Medusa, Dazzle, Queen of Pain, Silencer, and Magnus. Nobody's drafts make very much sense, but now&mdash;there's nothing wrong with that, is there.</p><p> It's an extremely passive start. Anti-Mage and I are up against a solo offlane Queen of Pain, who we zone out effectively. I am using Living Armor to sustain Weaver on our own offlane, but not much is happening anywhere. Eventually, Huskar gets first blood on Magnus mid.</p><p> In response, Magnus rotates top and goes for a three-man gank on Anti-Mage with Queen of Pain and Dazzle. They wait until he blinks in on Queen of Pain, then blow Skewer and Reverse Polarity. I manage to buy him the time to blink back out with Living Armour and Leech Seed.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0bIGGtHpQc-r.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QoGtqE6WJW2R.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Bob Ross Dota 8 min"></p><p> I know it's out of character to slip into a Bob Ross meme rather than an actual Bob Ross quote, but it felt appropriate. Anti-Mage laughs and says "yes, saved!" over in-game voice. He is farming well, and has made good progress towards his Battlefury. I declare my intent to place some happy little wards elsewhere, and leave the lane.</p><p> There's an engagement mid but it's inconclusive. The teams are even on kills, but only because our angry Legion Commander has failed two duels already. Everybody else is doing pretty well. I get us vision around Roshan as well as in their jungle and wander back to base to get my mana back.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/wOy3UBTERnyf.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/P4TOJ8lln9e3.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Bob Ross Dota 11 min"></p><p> As the laning phase breaks down we take one or two bad fights: they're grouping up heavily around Magnus, while we're still roaming in twos and threes. The game enters that uncertain phase where nobody is snowballing yet but somebody might be about to.</p><p> Weaver gets caught in their jungle but slips away, dragging the entire enemy team towards the Rosh pit. I think he'd survive without Living Armour, but applying it gets him back into fighting condition quickly. Myself, Legion Commander and Huskar charge in. LC dies almost immediately, ceding another burst of bonus damage to the Dazzle he decided to duel. There's some angry pinging and a little chat rage&mdash;but the fight isn't over yet.</p><p> I throw down Overgrowth, Leech Seed, and stick Living Armour on Huskar who goes on to pick up a triple kill while Anti-Mage split pushes top. It's a tipping point for the game.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ll5kaku2SgeL.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Z7fTCs1ILFSo.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Bob Ross Dota 17 min"></p><p> By twenty minutes Anti-Mage has Battlefury and has almost finished his Manta Style. We sneak Roshan while Huskar harasses them elsewhere, and extend our lead. Legion Commander still hasn't killed anybody.</p><p> I'm enjoying being relentlessly positive about everything, and somehow this absurd act of roleplay is making me more supportive in other ways. I'm playing a hard position five Treant&mdash;Arcane Boots at twenty minutes feels like a luxury&mdash;and I'm enjoying it. When Anti-Mage drops his Poor Man's Shield to grab the Aegis of the Immortal I get the courier to come and get it. My only deaths occur during teamfights, when I throw myself into the melee to distract the enemy from my more-valuable teammates. I don't feel resentful about it all.</p><p> I don't think any of the people I'm playing with have actually heard of Bob Ross, and they don't necessarily find my positivity infectious. But&mdash;and I didn't see this coming&mdash;I think pretending to be Bob Ross has actually made <em>me</em> nicer.</p><p> Anti-Mage's Manta Style in hand, it's time to fight&mdash;and what follows is one of the most crushing single fights I've seen. They're grouped up where the Radiant tier one mid tower used to be. I sneak around behind them using Nature's Guise, and as Huskar jumps in I emerge and cast Overgrowth. I can't do much during the Global Silence, and Legion Commander dies, but I'm able to Leech Seed the Dazzle and Living Armor Anti-Mage as soon as it times out. Anti-Mage, Weaver and Huskar clean house while I cheer on from the sidelines.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3p6TKK7OQXSU.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hFGK_rFEzhgA.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Bob Ross Dota 22 min"></p><p> They don't have buybacks, and we're able to take both barracks in mid and one in bottom lane before the first defenders appear. They wander in one by one, and we have sustain for days. We take bottom lane, and rotate top. I've not seen a solo ranked team successfully go for mega creeps at 23 minutes before, especially not off the back of a teamfight in the river&mdash;but this is <em>our</em> Dota game.</p><p> The enemy team are all alive by the time we hit their top barracks. They group up and move to push us off, leading with Medusa's Stone Gaze. My team backs away, but I decide that it's time to make a big dramatic choice. This scene needs a huge tree in the middle of it. I walk straight at Medusa and turn to stone halfway through the cast animation of Overgrowth.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/IPTqps0lR5i8.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1fhZWTnj3GNc.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Bob Ross Dota 24 min"></p><p> RUINED.</p><p> Their entire team focuses fire on me, but my team gets the hint. Anti-Mage blinks, Huskar jumps, and Weaver weaves. Legion Commander wins a duel! They can't kill me before Stone Gaze wears off, but I'm incredibly low. I hammer R. The entire surviving enemy team is wrapped in thick, happy vegetation. I fall, but so do they. I watch as their top barracks are destroyed, then their tier four towers.</p><p> SAVED!</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/c0HNxt59QF-t.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/DiWYM0rL51Ba.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Bob Ross Dota 25 min"></p><p> While I wait to respawn, my team backs off. Weaver buys a Divine Rapier, for some reason, which he will subsequently lose inside the enemy fountain to no great consequence. Legion Commander wins another duel, somewhere. When I spawn I pick up an Aghanim's Scepter, and while wandering to the final fight I use it to apply some dazzling highlights to a nearby tree.</p><p> Anti-Mage and I push into their base, pick up another couple of kills, and start on the Ancient. I use another Overgrowth to lock them in the fountain and start happily punching away. What a rare and exciting game this was: fast but only one-sided at the very end, greedy in the draft but ultimately successful and mutually complementary. 25 MMR for everybody! I step back, happy with the result.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nW8OC0G4R-KO.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BSMzN-5OBN8L.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Bob Ross Dota 26min"></p><hr> <p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> The Dota 2 Frankfurt Major: what you need to knowhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-dota-2-frankfurt-major-what-you-need-to-know/The worlds best Dota 2 teams clash for their share of $3m.Thu, 12 Nov 2015 16:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-dota-2-frankfurt-major-what-you-need-to-know/Dota 2esportsMOBAPro <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/V0jGreq1SlOp.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rTb2z4sd5U60.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The Frankfurt Major"></p><p> The group stages for the first-ever Dota 2 Major run tomorrow and Saturday, with the main event lasting from Monday to Saturday next week at Festhalle Messe in Frankfurt. This is the first of Dota 2's 'smaller' regional championships: I say 'smaller' because it boasts a $3m prize pool. That exceeds every Dota 2 International prior to 2014 and every other tournament in every other competitive game, ever.</p><p> This is basically a bonus International: the same number of teams, the same format, and a world-class if not quite as eye-watering prize. Even so, there’s no reason to expect the Frankfurt Major to be any less dramatic than August's main event.</p><h1>What's the format?</h1><p> The group stages, which will be played over the next few days, will determine bracket placement in the main event. There are four groups of four teams, each playing best-of-threes in a double elimination format. Given the number of games taking place simultaneously, following all of the action in the group stages will be tough&mdash;but we'll get to that in a minute.</p><p> The main event will be a double elimination bracket with all games played as best of three with the exception of the grand finals (best of five) and the first round of lower bracket games (best of one). On that basis, expect a bloody first day as the lower bracket teams scramble over each other for their tournament lives.</p><h1>Where can I watch it?</h1><p> All of the matches will be streamed on <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/dotamajor">Twitch</a> and via the <a href="http://www.dota2.com/watch">official Dota 2 streaming site</a>. You can also watch the matches in-client using Dota 2's excellent spectator tools. This allows you to follow specific players, control the camera yourself, have your camera controlled by a specific commentator, or any combination of the above.</p><p> If you're able to get to Frankfurt, the main event runs from 10:00 to 23:00 CET at Festhalle Frankfurt, Ludwig-Erhard-Anlage 1, Frankfurt. Its free to attend from Monday-Friday (though there's likely to be some capacity restrictions) and a day ticket for the grand finals on Saturday costs €50.00. Get tickets and further information <a href="http://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-frankfurt-major-presented-by-esl-tickets-18703608998">right here</a>.</p><h1>Where did IG go? And who is OG?</h1><p> There have been some last-minute team changes due to the things that always happen at international esports events: Visa problems and surprise sponsorship. Chinese superstars IG encountered the former, and have been replaced by Newbee Young in Group C. OG, meanwhile, is the new name of (monkey) Business.</p><h1>Which group stage matches should I watch?</h1><p> There's going to be a lot happening at once over the next few days and it's very hard to choose which matches to watch. With that in mind, let's break it down by day:</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/aGA7vk9fRGuY.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mO9E-V_QVko4.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Dota 2 ESL One NY 2015 - Robert Paul" class=""><figcaption>Photo credit: ESL/Robert Paul.</figcaption></figure><h3>November 13th: Group A and B</h3><p> <strong>Group A</strong> comprises <strong>Evil Geniuses</strong>, <strong>Fnatic</strong>, <strong>Virtus.pro</strong> and <strong>Newbee</strong>. EG can reasonably be expected to be the favourites, here, but they've not been on quite the same world-beating form as they were when they won the International with their former roster. There's a lot of potential for upset within this group: Fnatic have talent but middling results. Newbee have regained their TI4-winning carry, Hao, and are stronger as a result. Virtus.pro are consistently entertaining to watch&mdash;their run of 5th and 6th place finishes belies their potential to knock out top-tier teams from time to time.</p><p> <strong>Group B</strong> comprises <strong>Vici Gaming</strong>, <strong>Unknown.xiu</strong>, <strong>Vega Squadron</strong>, and <strong>OG</strong>. Vici are the powerhouses here, a relatively known quantity in terms of talent, experience, and results. These are the guys you watch if you want the best chance of seeing absolutely top-tier Dota from every single player. Unknown.xiu are, appropriately enough, relative unknowns. They are the first South American team to ever qualify for an official Dota event, having been very successful (and very entertaining) in their run through the qualifiers. If you're looking for an underdog to cheer for, these are your best bet.</p><p> Vega Squadron's dark horse status took a hit when they failed to qualify for the TI5 main event, but they rode right back into form with their surprise victory at ESL One New York. OG, meanwhile, represent a wildcard of a different sort: a mashing together of new talent and veterans, former teammates and strangers. It's a reunion of N0tail and Fly from old-Fnatic, Fly and MoonMeander from the TI5 compLexity lineup, plus relative newcomers Miracle- and Cr1t-.</p><p> On the 13th, then, I'd recommend starting with Vici Gaming vs. Unknown.xiu&mdash;while there's a risk that it'll be a one-sided game, it encapsulates the broadest spread of experience and new talent.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/z-0C3EcWTGy1.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mK9nAiurEjws.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Dota 2 ESL One NY 2015 - Carlton Beener" class=""><figcaption>Photo credit: ESL/Carlton Beener.</figcaption></figure><h3>November 14th: Group C and D</h3><p> <strong>Group C</strong> comprises <strong>Team Secret</strong>, <strong>Newbee Young</strong>, <strong>LGD Gaming</strong> and <strong>Cloud9</strong>. Secret's early fall was one of the big stories to emerge from TI5, but the subsequent roster change has worked out for them: they won MLG World Finals and Nanyang and came second at ESL One New York. They are, comfortably, the favourites to win this tournament. Newbee Young are less favoured: they're relatively new, they haven't played much outside of China, and they were a substitute for IG. LGD are better favoured with the post-TI5 addition of rOtK rounding out a talented squad. Cloud9, meanwhile, having undergone a dramatic shift since TI5, releasing their entire roster and becoming a fully North American rather than mostly-European team.</p><p> <strong>Group D</strong> comprises <strong>EHOME</strong>, <strong>Alliance</strong>, <strong>CDEC</strong> and <strong>Mineski</strong>. EHOME have lost rOtK to LGD since TI5 but have done well since, picking up 3rd place in Nanyang. This is one of the oldest names in pro Dota, and they're definitely back. Also back: Alliance, the TI3 champions whose <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/watch-the-dota-2-comeback-of-the-year/">knife-edge heartattack victory over NiP</a> in the Euro qualifiers was one of the biggest moments in professional Dota this year. CDEC's journey to the TI5 grand final was one of the stories of the year too, albeit something that they've not quite managed to replicate since. Mineski, finally, are the great hope for Filipino Dota at the event having proved themselves against SEA counterparts Fnatic in the qualifiers.</p><p> On the 14th, I'd recommend starting with either EHOME vs. Alliance (to confirm whether or not ALLIANCE ARE DOING IT) or Secret vs. Newbee Young, as it's an underdog-overdog matchup similar to Vici and Unknown. For me, Alliance vs. EHOME clinches it on a very important metric: silly pro player names. EHOME's new lineup includes 'old chicken', while Alliance have been having a lot of success with 'Mynuts'. If you would like to hear a professional commentator bellow something like 'old chicken is ALL OVER Mynuts', then this is your best chance to do so. And that, when it comes down to it, is what professional gaming is all about.</p><hr> <p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> Hearthstone interview: "We're not against combo decks"http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-interview-blizzard-on-secret-pally-murlocs-and-rng/With The League of Explorers adventure looming, we grilled the developers.Thu, 12 Nov 2015 01:26:01 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-interview-blizzard-on-secret-pally-murlocs-and-rng/Blizzard EntertainmentBlizzconCard GameHearthstoneinterviewProVideos <iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/bx1qbdqmano" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Tomorrow sees the release of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone/" target="_blank">Hearthstone’s</a> next adventure expansion, The League of Explorers, and with it&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-league-of-explorers-cards-list/" target="_blank">45 news cards</a> to unlock over the course of four wing’s of AI challenges. At&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/blizzcon" target="_blank">BlizzCon</a> this weekend I sat down senior game designer Mike Donais and production director Jason Chayes to chat about the new ‘discover’ keyword, whether they can tell which players are skillful by looking at data, Secret Paladin being the dumbest OP deck yet,&nbsp;and if Hearthstone is about to be overrun by fish people.</p> Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/call-of-duty-black-ops-3-review/It's got a fun campaign, but Black Ops 3 still clings toestablished series cliches.Wed, 11 Nov 2015 23:51:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/call-of-duty-black-ops-3-review/Call of Duty: Black Ops 3FPSReviews <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">need to know</h5> <p> <strong>What is it?</strong> The biggest FPS franchise in the world.<br> <strong>Price: </strong>$60 /&nbsp;£40 <br> <strong>Release date:</strong> Out now <br> <strong>Publisher: </strong>Activision <br> <strong>Developer:</strong> Treyarch <br> <strong>Link:</strong>&nbsp;<a href="https://www.callofduty.com/blackops3" target="_blank">Official site</a> </p> </div><p> Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 hums with tension. I don’t mean suspense or action or drama&mdash;though there is a bit of that&mdash;but the tension of being pulled in two directions at once. It’s the tension of a series that keeps&nbsp;spending millions of dollars trying to be bigger and better, yet gives birth to a very recognizable version of itself every fall like a pumpkin spice latte phoenix. As usual, Black Ops 3 desperately wants to be a Hollywood blockbuster action movie, and finds that players, with their frustrating insistence on “making choices” and “having fun,” keep getting in the way.</p><p> Call of Duty is not made by rookie developers, though, so let’s establish a few givens: This is a gorgeous game. It features wild set-pieces, good actors, and guns that feel great. These are the things that make Call of Duty the giant that it is. Blops 3 has an ambitious single-player campaign that takes some wild chances which it mostly almost manages to land, and it’s easy to recommend as a loud, dumb action movie-ish experience. Someday, Call of Duty might be more than a brash no-brainer entertainer&mdash;but this is not that day.</p><p>The story follows a special forces soldier as he&mdash;or, in a first for Call of Duty campaigns, <em>she</em>&mdash;gets the ever-loving crap kicked out of them by an angry robot. The details are unimportant and sparse: there’s a new Cold War (with Russia?) going on and a mission in Ethiopia (??) went completely pear-shaped. Now there’s a robot beating you to death with your own arms. Is it a Russian robot? Is the robot angry because it misses Russia? The bad guys don’t get a lot of screentime, so I’m not sure.</p><p>Getting your limbs torn off by a homesick Russian robot isn’t the career-ender it was in the olden days, though, and soon the player is back in the field with a robo-body and a whole array of fancy new tricks. Wall-jumping and an enhanced combat HUD are part of it, but the fun stuff includes a swarm of nanobots, the ability to melt circuit boards, and a sonic pulse that makes people puke until they die. The augmentation powers add another tool to the toolbox, and they’re fun enough to use that I don’t care that they look, sound, and play just like Plasmids from BioShock.</p><h2>Loud noises</h2><p>These powers are chosen as part of a mission loadout, so you can plan ahead by picking a shotgun, a rocket launcher, and the ability to make people hallucinate attacking birds. Every once in a&nbsp;while, I’d sprint across a wall, punch my fist into a robot’s chest, tear out its heart, throw it at a fuel tank, and blow someone’s head off&mdash;all in about three seconds. Enemy movement isn’t dynamic enough to make aiming a real challenge, but there’s still something fun about improvisation that CoD consistently nails. Mixing movement with melee, shooting with augmentation powers, environmental hazards with grenades, and doing it all in a string invariably makes me feel like a badass.</p><p>Each Black Ops game has gotten more loosely scripted and started to back away from&nbsp;its most egregious errors&mdash;mainly, going mental if the player takes a step out of line. Though Blops 3 is built out of tightly controlled corridors, as always, I didn’t have any problems with failing a mission because I took a wrong turn. It mostly allows you to pace yourself, and it’s nice to have a minute to admire the scenery.</p><p>It's great scenery.&nbsp;Blops 3’s locations feel distinct, interesting, and lived-in. Weather events like monsoons and sandstorms are powerful and dangerous, even if they usually just amount to flashy backcloth. The weather effects are much less successful when they start to interact with the game, though&mdash;a terrible sequence in Singapore, walking slowly through high waves for no reason, comes to mind as a complete waste of time.</p><p> And Blops 3 isn’t completely immune to the series’ established bad habits. There are turret sequences that don’t care if you shoot anything as long as you watch the explosions. There are at least three of those slow-mo breach-and-clear sequences, each one more rote than the last. The worst part of the game is in the skies over Egypt, a fighter jet attack sequence screams at me to pull up, pull up, pull up for God’s sake. On a hunch, I took my hand off the mouse and watched the dogfight just successfully resolve itself. Why do they even bother with this bullshit?</p><h2>Beautiful people</h2><p>The best acting in the game comes from a stunningly realistic, animated Christopher Meloni. Boy, that facial capture technology is really coming along, huh? The acting is decent across the board, but the script&mdash;it is&nbsp;not. The more a character has to say, the more I hate them. It’s no wonder, then, that the player’s wingman, Hendricks, is my least favorite character in the game. He’s a square-jawed stack of vanilla in a borrowed protagonist’s uniform, and he’s always saying things like “Spread out!” (I’m alone) and “Eliminate those tangoes, double-time” (what?) and “Let’s take it to ‘em!“ (please stop).</p><p>As a work of speculative fiction, Blops 3 gets points in my book for<em> trying</em> to say something. The last couple of missions in particular dive deep into a psychological thriller genre that Blops has never explored before: the inner workings of the human mind. Acid-tripping your way through the brain of a long-suffering veteran is a great way to see some serious shit. Enemies explode into a murder of crows, walking through a doorway makes time spin backward, and Symbolism with a capital S is everywhere.</p><p>This imaginary realm is where Blops 3 is most comfortable trying out its more scary ideas: Where is the line between individual freedom and communal safety? Is the cyborg future of transhumanism inevitable? Why do governments treat soldiers as disposable rags? What happens when we create artificial life&mdash;and, inevitably, what happens when that life decides it doesn’t need us?</p><p>This game looks those questions in the eye and isn’t afraid to think about maybe getting ready to say something semi-meaningful. And that’s the million-dollar problem, really. Raising the question isn’t the same as addressing it. Having a character say the word “symbiotic” isn’t the same as realizing augmented humans might not be human any more. Having a drunk philosophy student quote Benjamin Franklin’s line about liberty and safety doesn’t make a frat party a symposium on foreign relations.</p><h2>Nonstop Blops</h2> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Performance and settings</h5> <p> <strong>Reviewed on:</strong> Windows 8, i5 4690k, 8GB RAM, GTX 970 <br> <strong>Remappable controls:</strong> Yes <br> <strong>Custom&nbsp;FOV?</strong> Yes,&nbsp;65-120 <br> <strong>Variable framerate?</strong> Yes, up to 240 fps <br> <strong>Anti-aliasing:</strong> FXAA, SMAA, Filmic SMAA <br> <br> While some of its launch problems have been solved, Blops 3 still suffers from optimization issues. On a high-end system, it can be gorgeous, but it's&nbsp;prone to stuttering and crashes on mid-range hardware. If you're worried your system isn't up to the task, it may be wise to wait for more updates. There are, at least, plenty of options for customization, including render resolution, texture and mesh quality, shadow map quality, and a motion blur toggle.&nbsp; </p> </div><p> I hate sounding like a used car salesman, but the biggest thing to recommend Blops 3 is sheer value. This is a game with a ton of stuff built in. It seems specifically designed to keep players on the hook until November 2016, in fact, and not a moment longer.</p><p> The campaign lasted about seven hours on hardened difficulty, and the entire thing can be played solo or co-op with up to four players. Most of the missions will take about an hour to finish, which leads me to the single most baffling, infuriating thing about Blops 3: the save system doesn’t work in co-op games or on mission replays. This means that any co-op mission must be finished in a single sitting. If you feel like replaying mission six, you’d better hope that your spouse, kids, job, neighbors, dog, and door-to-door salesmen have all gotten the memo, because this train ain’t stopping.</p><p> When you’re not replaying missions from the beginning (and watching cutscenes, half of which are unskippable), the Call of Duty’s multiplayer mode is back. There are no mysteries here: if you like fast-paced CoD multiplayer, this is your annual update jam. Most of the guns from the campaign are available in multiplayer, and all feel beefy and powerful. It’s too bad that most of the other interesting abilities from the campaign aren’t around. The biggest problem, I think, is a dearth of ways to use Blops 3’s fun movement tools. Running along the wall and jetpacking over a building mixes up approach routes. This can really change things around on Blops 3’s mostly flat, mostly circular maps. Still, these opportunities are rare, and finding a place to jetpack to for an actual advantage is difficult. The best way to play is the same as it always has been: never stand still and aim for the head.</p><p> The big addition to multiplayer this year is a set of character classes, each with its own unique skill. The characters look a little different, but only in minor ways that get completely lost in the blur of battle. Compared to other character-based multiplayer shooters like Team Fortress 2, with iconic characters and highly specialized class skills, Blops 3 classes felt like an afterthought.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/whkgwpZqSO-f.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/rlCGrUra4JRn.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Cramped corridors and circular maps continue to define CoD multiplayer." class=""> <figcaption>Cramped corridors and circular maps continue to define CoD multiplayer.</figcaption></figure><p> The zombie survival mode has been reworked into Left 4 Dead meets 1940s noir. I love the noir setting, and there’s some hilarious voice acting from Ron Perlman and Jeff Goldblum to lighten things up. A new power-up lets players turn into a multi-tentacled Cthulu-oid beast, capable of ripping zombies apart and stunning crowds with electricity. Though it looks impressive, I found the beast to be less effective than a standard shotgun. Aside from the 1940s setting and eldritch trappings, this is mechanically the same zombie mode we played in Blops 2.</p><p> Unfortunately, there are&nbsp;new optimization issues is Blops 3. At launch, the game was hogging RAM and tying up CPU cycles. Many players who bought in on day one couldn’t get the game running without turning settings way down. Thankfully, almost all of these issues were addressed with a patch late last Friday. On my i5 CPU and GTX 970 (8GB of RAM), I was able to run the game over the weekend at a solid 60 FPS. I noticed framerate dips at the highest quality settings, but nothing catastrophic. The highest settings were definitely taxing my GTX 970, though, so expect problems if you’re on less powerful hardware. There are still reports of bad graphics drivers and the game crashing to desktop, and a colleague experienced crashes and stuttering on an (admittedly dated) Radeon R7 260X, even with the render resolution turned down to 1536x864.</p><p> It’s a shame so many are having issues, so here’s hoping that more patches are incoming to take better advantage of mid-tier hardware. Blops 3 is a lot better than the last two CoDs&mdash;Ghosts and Advanced Warfare&mdash;but that doesn’t mean anything for those who can’t run it. There is some good news, though: if you wait long enough for these issues to be resolved (assuming they are), Treyarch has also <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/call-of-duty-black-ops-3-will-get-modding-and-mapping-tools-next-year/">promised mapping and modding tools</a>. That’s a great surprise, but I can’t say yet how powerful they’ll be or how the community will make use of them.</p><p> Even though it misses most of its most ambitious gambles, I enjoyed my time with the Blops 3 campaign. There’s a lot to do and see in the multiplayer modes, even if I do find them exhausting and repetitive. Appreciating Blops 3 is like enjoying a great B-movie: it’s not the best story around and it certainly isn’t going to pack an emotional punch, but it’s loud, it’s flashy, and it makes me laugh and have a good time. It’s the game I reach for when I think, ‘Hey, I could really go for something dumb but fun right now.’</p><p> But even the most devoted Call of Duty hater might come around if we had an opportunity to miss these games a little bit. I could forgive some of the recurring CoD flaws if I didn’t see them recur every single year&mdash;good new ideas piled onto a stale framework that isn’t really allowed to change. I know that won’t happen, though, because CoD is defined by annualization, and iterating in bullet points:&nbsp;multiplayer character classes, jetpacks (again), magic techno-powers. And my protests aside, Activision knows the perfect amount of time between editions of Dumb and Loud is exactly twelve months.</p> How to set up Steam in-home streaming on your PChttp://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-set-up-steam-in-home-streaming-on-your-pc/If you have a new Steam Link or living room PC, here's how to get Steam In-Home Streaming up and running.Wed, 11 Nov 2015 22:20:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-set-up-steam-in-home-streaming-on-your-pc/FeatureFeaturedHardwareSteamSteam In-Home StreamingTechValve <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LRiacOKOQyCa.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TIArm7u1ZVSm.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="steamstreaming-teaser"></p><p>If you've bought Valve's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/steam-link/">Steam Link</a> or have a cheap living room PC tucked into your entertainment center, it's time to set up Steam In-Home Streaming. Streaming is Valve's solution for running a game on your beefy desktop PC, encoding it as a video signal, and sending that video signal to another system on the same network. Think of it as Netflix being broadcast inside your house, with your Steam library (and non-Steam games you add to your library--many of them will work too!) standing in for all those movies and TV shows. </p><p>Here's what you need to know to set up your Steam Link or In-Home Streaming PC, and what you need to know to configure it for the best performance.</p><p><em><strong>Note:</strong> With the Steam Link, Steam Controller and Steam Machines finally here, we've updated this guide. Enjoy!</em></p><h3>What do I need for in-home streaming?</h3><p>While streaming, you run a game on your PC much like you normally would&mdash;it displays on your monitor and can be controlled with your keyboard and mouse&mdash;and then Steam captures the data from that game and beams the audio/video signal to another PC! With in-home streaming, you can run Windows games on a Mac or Linux PC, run demanding games on an older laptop, or simply stream to a miniature PC in your living room.</p><p>The absolute basics you'll need:</p><ul> <li>A host PC (like your gaming rig) running Steam on Windows</li><li>A Steam Link or client PC in the living room (smaller/weaker/cheaper) running Steam on Windows, OS X or Linux/<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/tag/steamos/">SteamOS</a></li><li>A home network that can connect the two</li></ul><p>Now let's get a little more specific. What kind of hardware do you realistically need to run in-home streaming?</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-5YFgkgjSQi9.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/s_pLEdlRJxDS.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steam In Home Streaming Diagram"></p><h4>The host PC</h4><p>Your host PC should be powerful enough to run a game while simultaneously encoding it as a video signal. For best results, this would have:</p><ul> <li>A quad core CPU (such as an Intel i5 or i7 processor from 2011 or newer)</li><li>An Nvidia 600 series GPU or newer, or an AMD 7000 series GPU or newer. Why those cards? Because in-home streaming now supports hardware encoding on both Nvidia and AMD card. The Nvidia GTX 650 and above support hardware encoding; see <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/groups/homestream#announcements/detail/141057442946153345">this post</a> for a full list of the supported AMD cards.</li></ul><p>I've successfully used Steam in-home streaming with an overclocked 4.3GHz Sandy Bridge i5 2500k CPU and an AMD 7870 card (which doesn't support hardware encoding). So you definitely don't need an Nvidia card. In fact, Intel's built-in HD Graphics GPUs also support hardware encoding with Quick Sync, so you may be able to stream a game without a dedicated GPU at all.</p><p>If you are trying in-home streaming with an AMD card, but do have an Intel CPU, you should make sure Quick Sync is enabled on your computer. <a href="https://mirillis.com/en/products/tutorials/action-tutorial-intel-quick-sync-setup_for_desktops.html">Here's a tutorial for enabling Quick Sync </a>.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iVbeNYh-RJ2C.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kpuZop-BO_lD.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steam Link inputs"></p><h4>The client PC or Steam Link</h4><p>Valve's Steam Link is an easy choice for a client device. It's small, cheap at $50, and can handle streaming with no performance issues. It can also connect to multiple Steam controllers wirelessly, without the need for a dongle. All you need to support the Steam controller is an HDMI cable to your TV, and wired or wireless Internet. We strongly recommend wired.</p><p>The great thing about streaming is that your host PC is doing the brunt of the work. Ideally, you can stream to some crappy old laptop or a cheap, low-power living room machine. But your client machine still needs to be powerful enough to handle decoding the video signal Steam is sending it.</p><p>Valve recommends a client with a GPU that can decode H.264 video. Again, Intel's processors with HD Graphics can decode video using Quick Sync, so you may not even need a separate GPU. Any Nvidia or AMD graphics card you can get your hands on should support hardware decoding.</p><h4>The network</h4><p>You want a router that doesn't crash on you all the time. Ideally, it has gigabit (not 100 Mbps) ports, although the Steam Link only has a 100 Mbps port on it. There's a whole section on the requirements and configuration of your home network below.</p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-set-up-steam-in-home-streaming-on-your-pc/#page-2"><em>Next up: let's talk about how to set up in-home streaming and how to tweak it for better performance.</em></a></p><h3>Setting up in-home streaming</h3><p> Enabling in-home streaming takes about five minutes. Here's what you do:</p><ul> <li>On your gaming PC, login to Steam and open the Settings menu</li> <li>Select the In-Home Streaming tab</li> <li>Tick the "Enable streaming" checkbox</li> <li>Under Advanced Host Options, tick "Enable hardware encoding"</li> <li>On your client PC, login to the same Steam account.</li> <li>If using the Steam Link, the menu should show available PCs to stream from on your network and label them as "Ready" or "Offline." With streaming enabled, your PC should show up as Ready. Select it to begin streaming automatically in Big Picture Mode.</li></ul><p> Bam. You're ready to stream.</p><h4>How do I control my client PC?</h4><p> In-Home Streaming is mainly designed to be used with Steam Big Picture Mode, and there are a few ways to control it. But you don't have to use Big Picture. If you're streaming to a laptop, for example, just select a game from your Stream Library; if it's not installed locally, it'll show "Stream" instead of play. You can also use the dropdown next to the Play/Stream button to install a game on the remote PC.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YdufvEBLTcmP.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/R7fvJVXlnzML.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steam Streaming client button"></p><p> On the Steam Link, you can plug in Xbox controllers via USB, connect keyboards and mice via wire or 2.4GHz USB dongle, or connect them via Bluetooth. You can also use a Steam Controller wirelessly connected to the Link.</p><p> Your In-Home Streaming client should automatically detect any XInput device plugged into it. An Xbox 360 controller or Steam Controller is your easiest, most likely choice. Valve notes that "DirectInput controllers other than gamepad style controllers (wheels, flight controllers, etc.) are not currently supported. Other controllers using XInput are fully supported."</p><p> On a PC, you can also use a Dualshock 4 <a href="http://forums.pcsx2.net/Thread-DS4-To-XInput-Wrapper">configured with an XInput wrapper</a>. A keyboard and mouse plugged into the host will work too, which is important if you're streaming to a laptop. If you're streaming to a living room Steam Machine, you'll probably want to stick to a controller, since the Big Picture interface is optimized for it.</p><h4>How do I connect a Steam Controller?</h4><p> If you're using a Steam Link, turn it on. Hold X on a Steam controller, then press the Steam button to turn it on. This will enter the controller into pairing mode. You don't need to use a dongle with the Steam Link, though you can if you have any issues with wireless signal.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/X7nURJSzRv-z.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nTfD5a3g1WWe.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steam Streaming Configure Controller"></p><p> To connect the Steam Controller to a PC, first plug in its USB dongle. Then turn on the controller with the Steam button and follow the prompt that appears on-screen to pair with the receiver. You'll have to boot into Steam Big Picture to use and configure the Steam Controller.</p><h3>Go forth, and Stream</h3><p> With a controller or keyboard/mouse connected, you're ready to steam. Try it out!</p><p> If everything works perfectly, you don't need to read the rest of this guide. But like with most aspects of PC gaming, you'll probably want to do some tinkering to increase performance. You may run into slowdown or input lag. That means it's time to optimize your home network and in-home streaming's settings.</p><h3>Tweaking Steam in-home streaming settings</h3><p> I recommend trying out your in-home streaming setup with the following settings:</p><p class="content-image"> <a href="http://media.pcgamer.com/files/2014/08/steamstreaming-optimalsettings.jpg"> <img alt="" class="alignnone size-large wp-image-300126" data-fullimage-src="https://344cbfb0b82bcaf3ab4c-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YsS3IXeV3_lE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" src="https://344cbfb0b82bcaf3ab4c-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YsS3IXeV3_lE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg"> </a></p><ul> <li> Balanced client performance strikes a balance (duh) between video picture quality and performance/responsiveness. Ideally, this means the image on your TV will look great, and the streaming lag will be imperceptible.</li> <li> Enabling hardware encoding will use the power of the GPU on your host computer to help quickly render the game you're streaming into video. </li> <li> Enabling network prioritization will potentially allow your router to traffic shape the data crossing your network and give in-home streaming more bandwidth than, say, Netflix. </li> <li> Setting automatic bandwidth means Steam will determine how much bandwidth it uses. It's the recommended setting. In my experience, this works for a lot of games, but ones with lots of fast-moving details (for example, a tower defense game with tons of units and projectiles) will result in some compression artifacts. Counter-intuitively, the 'unlimited' bandwidth setting can increase latency, <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/groups/homestream/discussions/0/540731690711711389/" target="_blank"> according to Valve's own developers</a>. I've tried the unlimited bandwidth setting over a wired connection and didn't experience any issues with latency, so give it a try for improved image quality.</li> <li> 1080p resolution is a practical choice for streaming: better quality than 720p, but not desktop resolution, which could&nbsp;be higher if you have a 1440p monitor. Since the TV you're streaming to is likely 1080p, the native resolution will look just fine. </li> <li> Enabling hardware decoding will use the GPU on the client computer to help quickly decode the H.264 video signal your client computer is outputting. Otherwise, the CPU has to do all the work, which could hamper performance. If&nbsp;you experience poor performance, disable this setting to see if anything changes.</li></ul><p> If you experience issues with input lag, try switching from the 'balanced' to 'fast' setting. Just be aware that the picture quality will likely suffer.</p><p class="content-image"> <a href="http://media.pcgamer.com/files/2014/08/steamstreaming-fast.jpg"> <img alt="" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-300129" data-fullimage-src="https://4316bd223ebdc131e650-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/G-3AvGo7-hxo.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" src="https://4316bd223ebdc131e650-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/G-3AvGo7-hxo.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg"> </a></p><p>If you have streaming issues with the above settings, your best bet is to simply change things up and see what works. Even if you have a great GPU, you may find that software encoding (your CPU doing all the work, with no GPU acceleration) gives you better framerates. If you really want to measure your performance, turn on "display performance information" in the advanced client options.</p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-set-up-steam-in-home-streaming-on-your-pc/#page-3"><em>Next up: wired vs. wireless and the network settings to make streaming work.</em></a></p><h3> What kind of router and home network do I need for in-home streaming? </h3><p> Short answer: the faster the better. Long answer: for optimal in-home streaming support, you'll ideally have a house wired for gigabit ethernet, with both your host device and client device connected via a hardline. </p><p> In my house, a cable modem connects to a wireless 802.11ac router, which is then wired to a gigabit LAN switch. That switch plugs into a mess of cables snaking throughout the house, one of which comes out in my room (where it plugs into my gaming PC) and one of which comes out in the living room, where another LAN hub splits the Ethernet signal to a Steam Link, Roku, and other devices. That sounds like a tortuous path, but it's far faster than Wi-Fi. </p><p>Over a wired connection to a Steam Link, the stream latency usually stays below 1 millisecond, which is fantastically fast. Over wired, this number can be much higher, up in the 20 or more ms range. That's likely going to be a perceptible bit of delay between your controller movements and the results on-screen.</p><p> If you can't connect over ethernet, wireless is an option&mdash;just not a good one. Wireless interference from neighboring networks could cause lag or stuttering, and your wireless bandwidth may not be sufficient to stream at 1080p, the default setting. Still,&nbsp;I have been able to successfully maintain a 50-60 fps 1080p stream with no perceptible latency over Wi-Fi, but that performance will vary based on your network.</p><p>Perhaps your home network will&nbsp;be good enough to sustain 720p streaming. If Wi-Fi is your only option, it's worth trying. Try these settings, enabling fast performance, network prioritization in the host settings, and 720p in the client settings: </p><p class="content-image"> <a href="http://media.pcgamer.com/files/2014/08/steamstreaming-networksettings.jpg"> <img alt="" class="alignnone size-large wp-image-300123" data-fullimage-src="https://feb33d8763de0c0f2e0a-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RXvMDsU6lO0I.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" src="https://feb33d8763de0c0f2e0a-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RXvMDsU6lO0I.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg"> </a> </p><p>Since it first introduced streaming, Valve has overhauled its code to run better over Wi-Fi. Start at 1080p, balanced and see if that works for you.</p><p> Any router with gigabit ethernet ports and/or 802.11n (or, even better, the latest standard, 802.11ac) should have more than the required bandwidth to handle in-home streaming, so you shouldn't need any special tech to get everything working. "Should" is the operative word there, though&mdash;there's <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/groups/homestream/discussions/0/630802979130451288/#p1" target="_blank"> a huge thread on the Steam forums </a> of people testing in-home streaming with different wireless setups. Some work, some don't. It's possible your router, or the walls of your house, or something else, may not play nice with streaming. Running tons of other data through your router simultaneously (like torrenting, streaming Netflix, etc.) could also tank streaming performance. These are the perils of networking. </p><p> By this point, you've hopefully gotten in-home streaming working well enough to play games in the living room or on an old laptop. If the stream dream is alive, there are a couple more things you can do to make it even better: set up family sharing to stream games you don't own, and use in-home streaming to stream non-Steam games and applications. Like, for example, the <a href="https://dolphin-emu.org/"> Dolphin GameCube and Wii emulator </a> . Yep, you can do that. </p><h3> Family sharing and non-Steam streaming </h3><p> If you live in a house with roommates, or have family members with Steam, or kindly friends who want to share their libraries, family sharing and streaming make a great combination. Enabling family sharing gives you access to the entire library of your generous lender. To set it up, simply have your family member/friend/roommate login to Steam on your host computer, go into the settings, open the family tab, and authorize your computer. Once you log back into your own account, you'll have access to all their games, and you'll be able to stream them to your client. </p><p> Streaming non-Steam applications is an even neater trick. Potentially, any game or other program you can add to the Steam library can be streamed. That includes Dolphin&mdash; <a href="https://forums.dolphin-emu.org/Thread-dolphin-with-steam?" target="_blank"> you can read about how to add Dolphin to Steam in this thread </a> . </p><p> To add a non-Steam game to your library, click the "+ Add a game" button in the bottom left corner of the Steam window. Add any game you want, and try running it through Steam. Streaming may work without a hitch. </p><p class="content-image"> <a href="http://media.pcgamer.com/files/2014/08/steamstreaming-addgame.jpg"> <img alt="" class="alignnone size-large wp-image-300135" data-fullimage-src="https://feb33d8763de0c0f2e0a-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2snZEh0sLLCb.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" src="https://feb33d8763de0c0f2e0a-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2snZEh0sLLCb.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg"> </a> </p><p> In some cases, like with Blizzard games, Steam may try to run the launcher instead of the game itself. That's no good. To fix the problem, right click on the game in your steam library, go to properties, and change the target to the game .exe instead of the launcher .exe. In the target field, you may also need to add -launch to force the game to skip the launcher. Adding -w for windowed mode may also get a game working. </p><p> __ </p><p> Go, now, and Steam stream. If you simply can't get streaming to work with your setup, <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/groups/homestream/discussions" target="_blank"> try posting in the Steam community</a>. It's full of hardcore streamers who may come up with a solution to your problem. Since in-home streaming is integrated into the stable steam client, expect updates and improvements regularly. We'll keep this guide updated to deal with new <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/tag/in-home-streaming/"> Steam in-home streaming</a> features as they arrive. </p> Playing Fallout 4 with charisma, luck, and nothing elsehttp://www.pcgamer.com/playing-fallout-4-with-charisma-luck-and-nothing-else/How far can a guy get on personality and good fortunealone?Wed, 11 Nov 2015 21:16:09 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/playing-fallout-4-with-charisma-luck-and-nothing-else/Bethesda SoftworksFallout 4RPG <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RT3OvA1iSAO5.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HPeWKjvvT1ep.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Charm" style="background-color: initial;"></p><p><em>Note: There are no story spoilers in this piece, and I've&nbsp;been extremely vague about side-missions and characters.</em></p><p>Two armed thugs are demanding a woman repay a perceived&nbsp;debt. She's refusing, and&nbsp;they are threatening her. That's when my new&nbsp;Fallout 4&nbsp;character, Chuck B. Lucky, strolls up and points his pistol at the two goons while desperately hoping he won't have to use it. Chuck doesn't have a problem with killing, it's just that he's terrible at it. When I created Chuck, I put all his&nbsp;points into Charisma and Luck, maxing out those two SPECIAL stats. I've also limited him to perks from those two stats, meaning I've got precious&nbsp;little in the way of combat skills.</p><p>There are other ways to get by.</p><p>The two goons see Chuck's drawn gun and immediately stop what they're doing. This is&nbsp;thanks to Intimidation, the 10-star Perk&nbsp;that&nbsp;was immediately available to me after maxing out Charisma. It gives me a chance to pacify human enemies who are lower level than I am. In fact, the goons are so intimidated that when I demand they give me <em>their </em>money, they immediately&nbsp;do. How does it feel, jerks?</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/NhyBVWesQ3-C.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mpEGNXCmrZF0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Charm"></p><p>These two goons&nbsp;aren't the only jerks present, however, because&nbsp;Chuck isn't really a hero.&nbsp;I have the option of telling the thugs to split, but something tells me&nbsp;there's more money to be made out of the situation.&nbsp;Rather than chasing them away, I offer to help them recover the money from the woman they've been threatening. My services don't come for free, however, and&nbsp;I demand payment for helping the goons, who somewhat sheepishly&nbsp;remind me that, you know, I just robbed them. Good point, goons!&nbsp;I make a deal instead: I'll recover the woman's debt and we'll split it. I talk to the woman, convince her to pay up (Charisma, again), and take my cut. Then I use her money to buy some extra ammo (from her), and I use the goons' money to buy Stimpacks (from the goons). It's a little weird, buying things from three people I just robbed, but this is Fallout 4. It's a weird world.</p><p>So, I've made some money, earned XP by talking people into things, and gotten some supplies, all without pulling the trigger. Chuck's&nbsp;day is turning out well after a rocky start. While on a rooftop in the last town, I was asked by faction members&nbsp;to strap on power armor and take on a swarm&nbsp;of enemies. That's not really Chuck's scene, so I just&nbsp;used the power armor as an elevator: I climbed into the armor, jumped off the roof&nbsp;(taking no fall damage), climbed out, and ran away. Look, Chuck's not a fighter, he's an opportunist, and when there's an opportunity to not die, he takes it.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/UUaE9h1bTmSG.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/IuAhRFpYl7_D.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Charm"></p><p>On those occasions where combat is inevitable, I get some help from Luck. The level 10 Luck perk, Ricochet, means that&nbsp;very occasionally an enemy's bullet will miss me, bounce off something, and kill the attacker. It's rare, but in my last fight with raiders it happened twice. It's rather hilarious. There's a 'ka-ping' sound and the person firing at you suddenly slumps over dead. I've also intimidated people while in battle, which has been handy. A couple more raiders simply surrendered,&nbsp;allowing me to creep away. When the odds work out in my favor, half my enemies give up and the rest wind up shooting themselves.</p><p>That's a rarity though, and the deeper I slink into the wasteland the less often I encounter enemies I can threaten into submission. Luckily, I've found a new way to make ends meet: by talking people into things. As I move from town to town, people naturally offer me work. For instance, someone asks me to retrieve an item from a factory filled with supermutants, and offers me 50 caps to do so. I then ask for more money. They agree, raising the price to 100 caps. I point out that supermutants are exceedingly dangerous, and they then offer 200 caps. This item they want me to collect sounds very&nbsp;valuable as well, and when&nbsp;I point this out, the price goes up&nbsp;to 400 caps.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/LUqnURoPSwCF.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ZDqCZkkNPZTJ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Charm"></p><p>When I've raised my price to the limit, I promptly turn down the job&nbsp;because I have no intention of fighting mutants or monsters. That means I don't get the money, but that's fine:&nbsp;I'm not actually after their caps.</p><p>What I'm after is XP. Each time I talk someone&nbsp;into raising their reward, I earn a little XP. Best of all, I've got a Luck-based&nbsp;perk called Idiot Savant, which means every time I earn XP, there's a chance I'll get a 3x multiplier for it. What's more, the lower my Intelligence, the better the chance I'll get that multiplier, and my intelligence is rock-bottom so it happens a lot.&nbsp;It's literally dumb luck, and as I slither around camps and outposts, talking people into paying me more for jobs I have no intention of completing, I'm actually able to level up a couple times without doing any real, dangerous work.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/4mf-zq5IQuyi.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gMudLZUdW7oW.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Charm"></p><p>Though I'm not great at picking locks, I am good at opening doors. A lot of the outposts I've been visiting are reluctant to let strangers in. At one location someone tries to get me to pay to enter: I quickly talk him out of it and get an apology. At another, I literally stand outside whining until they let me in. I like that having my Charisma maxed doesn't strictly mean I'm silver-tongued or intimidating: it can sometimes also&nbsp;mean I'm just annoying enough to get my way.</p><p>Chuck is also&nbsp;an equal opportunity sleazebag. I meet a sweet little girl who&nbsp;has lost her pet, and she&nbsp;asks me to find&nbsp;it. I treat her like every other client&mdash;by&nbsp;asking what she can pay. She offers her teddy bear. That's adorable! But seriously, what else you got, kid? She offers me a silver&nbsp;locket her mother gave her. Awww! But seriously, anything else? Yes, Chuck is slime, but on the other hand&nbsp;he does actually recover the kid's pet. Disappointingly, the kid only gives him her teddy bear. No locket! Either that's a bug or Chuck just got conned&nbsp;by the wasteland's smallest&nbsp;grifter.</p><p>Playing as Chuck is a lot of fun, and focusing so closely on luck and charm gives me some insight into him as a character as well. After finding a suit (and then a tux!), I quickly decided Chuck would always want to look his best. Clean, neat, untouched, as if the dust and grime of the wasteland simply didn't stick to him. This means no armor: I just can't imagine Chuck strapping dirty pieces of leather and metal to his arms and legs (and&nbsp;how I wish I could drop that awful, clunky Pip-boy by the side of the road).&nbsp;I also deplore these primitive pipe pistols and shotguns cobbled together from garbage. Only real guns for Chuck, like a drum-fed machine gun. This severely limits me as a fighter, naturally, but seeing as how I'm not interested in fighting it's not that big of a sacrifice.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7e2IFaJ5T_CA.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Lr-qH8jtZUNX.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Charm"></p><p>Of course, major bouts of&nbsp;combat are unavoidable.&nbsp;Just about every single&nbsp;mission I've been offered thus far&nbsp;has promised a lot of fighting. Even one, that the quest-giver refused to give me details about (and thus gave me hope that it wouldn't involve shooting) wound up with me facing a bunch of mirelurks. Nope! Chuck might be the type to dine on shellfish, but he's not gonna fight it.</p><p>And that's kind of the issue.&nbsp;As much fun as I'm having with Chuck, I don't feel like&nbsp;I'll get much further with him. Charisma and Luck are great when they're maxed out, and there are some enjoyable&nbsp;perks,&nbsp;but they definitely&nbsp;need to be paired with combat or stealth. I'm just not finding enough situations that I can talk my way in and out of, and even maxed-out luck isn't enough to survive a real fight. More and more often as I play, the dapper Chuck is&nbsp;winding up on the ground covered in blood.</p><p>I know him. He'd hate that.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BOZMnr6JQgy5.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0Vr4SSmLBs6n.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Charm"></p> The sound of silencehttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-sound-of-silence/Quiet down.Wed, 11 Nov 2015 16:10:01 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-sound-of-silence/Why I Love <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/q8DVfueaRf6v.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0Z1OoZw8gfrP.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="1"></p><p>One thing that has always bothered me about the Arkham series&mdash;from City onwards&mdash;is the ‘local surveillance’ radio feed. Wherever you go, goons are constantly jabbering about how “they ain’t scared of the Bat”, about events in the story, about that time they robbed a bank, about their favourite sandwich. Your average Arkham game is about twenty hours long, and it feels like you spend most of that time listening to street thugs and henchmen wittering on in daft <em>New Yoik</em> accents.</p><p>And it’s not just Batman. A lot of modern games are annoyingly noisy, drowning your ears in music and dialogue. How many times have you strayed from the critical path to explore, only for an obnoxious voice to crackle over the radio and remind you of your objective? Which is why, when a game decides to just shut the hell up, I always appreciate it. Silence can be a powerful thing&mdash;as this short film by Tony Zhou, <a href="https://vimeo.com/98240271">The Art of Silence</a>, illustrates&mdash;and I don’t think game developers use it enough.</p><p>One game that uses quiet effectively is, appropriately, Silent Hill 2. There are moments when you enter a building and there’s no sound at all except for the echo of your footsteps. The sudden transition from the streets, where the sound of the wind is ever-present, to eerie stillness is jarring. As Akira Yamaoka, the game’s composer and sound designer, says in this <a href="https://youtu.be/E1VKvED76WQ">making of documentary</a>, the role of a sound designer isn’t just creating sounds, but knowing when to use silence as well.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3lnQZzWHS_au.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WvqS0R-Ro-2k.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The_Talos_Principle_-_Screen_1"></p><p>The Talos Principle is an example of a game that makes sparse use of sound and music to create a quiet, meditative ambience. The gentle music and birdsong provide a soothing backdrop to its brain-melting puzzles. I love Take On Mars, which is silent except for the lonely howl of the Martian wind as you scoop up soil samples and grow potatoes. And it’s not a PC game, but Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’s famous <a href="https://youtu.be/O3Z5UGE3g5M">ladder moment</a>&mdash;in which Snake climbs a seemingly endless ladder to a haunting rendition of the game’s ludicrous Bond-style theme&mdash;is beautifully minimal.</p><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/how-authentic-is-alien-isolation/">Alien: Isolation</a> is another game that does silence well. There are loud, dramatic moments, and the shrill strings that herald the arrival of the alien are chilling, but there are moments of relative calm too. Wandering the empty corridors of Sevastopol, you can hear the hum of machines, computers bleeping, and the ruined station creaking as it struggles to stay in orbit. Leaving the player alone with their thoughts like this is a great way to build tension in a horror game. You wonder why it’s so quiet, then start worrying about something suddenly jumping out at you.</p><p>Audio design is something we don’t talk about enough on PC Gamer. Not because we don’t care&mdash;I’m actually really interested in it personally&mdash;but because it’s so difficult to write about. Sound designers are, I think, the unsung heroes of game development, because their work is so critical to the experience. I just wish they would embrace the power of silence a little more often, and say something by saying nothing.</p> What the critics, players, and my dad think about Fallout 4http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-review-round-up/Everyone is radiating love, tripping on bugs, and munching on Arbys'.Wed, 11 Nov 2015 01:27:35 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-review-round-up/Fallout 4RPG <figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/A9km1udtT4aK.bmp" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/y9NsOQqP0A-6.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The face of a cautious optimist. " class=""> <figcaption>The face of a cautious optimist. </figcaption></figure><p> Fallout 4 is officially out, and thus&nbsp;the internet is abuzz with hot takes. You can, of course,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-review/">read our review&nbsp;here</a>.&nbsp;But in case&nbsp;you're curious about&nbsp;what the wider world has made of Bethesda's latest foray into an irradiated hellscape, we've corralled&nbsp;a cross-section of opinion on this page.&nbsp;People are largely&nbsp;digging it, though it seems a few Bethesda Bug Forgiveness Buffers are starting to wear a bit thin. Below you'll find a mix of critic and fan reaction, drawn from the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-surpasses-dota-2-on-steam-sets-new-concurrent-user-record/" target="_blank">insane number</a> of people playing right now...</p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">YouTubers</h5> <p> Most YouTubers have only just started playing the game, so start forming your feelings together&nbsp;with a few Let's Plays: </p> <ul> <li><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atbyVS6TwTA" target="_blank">OSWguild</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xf14N66_l8U" target="_blank">GaLm</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYTrZ0qxm9A" target="_blank">TobyGames</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJy05UY9jxE" target="_blank">BaronVonGamez</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixkiOCYUXiw" target="_blank">SplatterCat</a></li> </ul> </div><h2>Review roundup</h2><p> <a href="http://www.gamesradar.com/fallout-4-review/"><strong>GamesRadar+ (5/5)</strong></a> <br> Our sister site’s Leon Hurley loved how the game exploited his attention by offering constant and valuable distractions: “It’s the kind of game where you set a mission marker, head off to begin it and then four hours and multiple accidental side quests later you remember what you went out for. MILK! No, wait, kill all the supermutants.” Is there a milk quest? I want a milk quest.</p><p> <a href="http://www.polygon.com/2015/11/9/9648824/fallout-4-review-xbox-one-PS4-PC"><strong>Polygon (9.5/10)</strong></a> <br> Polygon’s Arthur Gies praised the game for its believable sense of place and cohesive narrative: “Fallout 4 has all the ambiance and history that made its predecessors such wonderful places to get lost for hours at a time, with a much more coherent set of stories within it. That Bethesda has integrated a major building and crafting tool while finally building a great-playing game almost feels like a bonus.”</p><p> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-review/"><strong>PC Gamer (88/100)</strong></a> <br> Hey, it’s us! Phil sure liked Fallout 4, even if the cracks are starting to show. “It's a pleasure to pick through the world, to discover new sights, and to pick through the perks and customisation option to conceive the perfect character build, however bizarre. In short, many of Fallout 4's problems, like every Bethesda RPG before it, are a consequence of what makes them unforgettable.”</p><p> <strong></strong><a href="http://www.pcgamesn.com/fallout-4/fallout-4-pc-review" target="_blank"><strong>PCGamesN (8/10)</strong></a> <br> Matt Purslow at PCGamesN enjoyed the sheer breadth, but felt the game was a bit too familiar this go-round on the nuclear carousel: "There’s enough choice to make at least two playthroughs worth it, meaning this is a game with over 100 guaranteed hours of compelling play in it. With a menu like that, chances are you won’t care about the blemishes and deja-vu. You’ve been happily drinking classic Nuka-Cola for years, so why would you want a changed recipe now?"</p><p> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/nov/10/fallout-4-review-spectacular-messy-and-familiar"><strong>The Guardian (3/5)</strong></a> <br> Rich Stanton at The Guardian was much less forgiving, more tired of Bethesda’s trademark formula and weaknesses than most: “Fallout 4, then, is a paradox, delivering in many of the areas that matter most but undermined throughout by poor combat, technical problems, and what feels like a lack of focus. So here we go again. It’s not war, but Bethesda that never changes.”</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6OmthGvDR3-G.bmp" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-cC5z6X5UURm.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="It's hard to deny how gorgeous Fallout 4's scenery is. " class=""></figure><p> <strong>On Steam</strong>, the game holds a Very Positive rating with 6,963 reviews at the moment. A good portion of the reviews make note of the bugs, but that they're not overwhelming or game-breaking. In six hours of play, Super Potato "only had ONE bug and that was&nbsp;[a&nbsp;robot's]&nbsp;head going through the ceiling" which sounds pretty cool to me. Quantization says they can't stop "taking screenshots of breathtaking landscapes and wacky, but appropriate interiors."&nbsp;</p><p> Negative reviews criticize the game for it's "unintuitive controls for a PC game" and difficulty changing certain graphics settings, like FOV (here's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-tweak-fallout-4s-hidden-graphics-options/" target="_blank">how to do that</a>, by the way). Some players also didn't like the streamlined dialogue system, especially when it comes to player intent: "I don't know if [choosing] 'Sarcastic' means a playful joke, or me being an enormous asshole." Most negative reviews recommend waiting until mod support is rolled out en masse, so players can fix numerous tiny problems they have with the game. So, the tipping point for most is whether to&nbsp;dive in right away, warts and all, or wait until Bethesda and modders iron out the bigger wrinkles.</p><h2>Mainstream nods</h2><p> Ten years ago, hardly anyone knew Fallout by name.&nbsp;</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-78Dw2iuS46Z.PNG" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/28UAOEYfdmvP.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Conan Fallout 4"></p><p> <a href="http://teamcoco.com/fallout4coldopen?playlist=x%3BeyJ0eXBlIjoidGFnIiwiaWQiOjQ3Nzl9" target="_blank"><strong>Conan O’Brien</strong></a><br> The tall funny man from the TV played some Fallout 4 on his show recently, but not before an elaborate introductory sequence wherein Conan sports an uncomfortably tight vault jumpsuit and narrowly avoids disintegration. &nbsp;It's all good fun. There's a nice jab or two at Microsoft aesthetics and a tangible sense of growing unease as Conan's thirst for violence and sexual conquest wash over his otherwise goofy demeanor.</p><p> <strong>My dad</strong> <br> Even my dad, a man in his sixties who calls text-messaging "ebay", had heard of the game: “Fallout 4? What is it? Fall. Out. Four. Shit, I got no idea. Baseball? Is it baseball? Do you fall out when you get four strikes? It makes me think sports kind of. Like baseball. It makes me think it’s a game with some sports thing. Wait.&nbsp;That the commercial with the blue man in the suit?” Took him a second, but he’s not totally off base. Diamond City is built in an old baseball stadium, and more than a few raiders tried to smash my head in with baseball bats.</p><p> <strong>Arby’s fast food establishment</strong> <br> Thank goodness our favorite brands have our back. Without Arby’s, I’m not sure I would have remembered to eat ever again. I’m really feeling the synergy here, especially since Arby’s roast 'beef' sandies could probably make it through a nuclear apocalypse or two.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr"> Don’t forget to eat tomorrow. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Fallout4?src=hash">#Fallout4</a> <a href="https://t.co/PK73NGFcxu">pic.twitter.com/PK73NGFcxu</a> </p><p> &mdash; Arby's (@Arbys) <a href="https://twitter.com/Arbys/status/663744195518029827">November 9, 2015</a> </p></blockquote> The PC Gamer Show: Fallout 4, BlizzCon 2015, and morehttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-pc-gamer-show-fallout-4-blizzcon-2015-and-more_podcast/This week wetalk about what we saw atBlizzCon 2015, a little game called Fallout 4, and lots more.Wed, 11 Nov 2015 00:39:21 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-pc-gamer-show-fallout-4-blizzcon-2015-and-more_podcast/podcastThe PC Gamer Show Show us your best (or worst!) Fallout 4 faceshttp://www.pcgamer.com/best-fallout-4-characters/Are you using the new character creator for good or evil?Tue, 10 Nov 2015 22:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/best-fallout-4-characters/Bethesda SoftworksFallout 4GalleryRPG Unsung heroes of Dota 2: Elder Titanhttp://www.pcgamer.com/unsung-heroes-of-dota-2-elder-titan/Knock knock!Do you have a few minutes to talk aboutsplitting the Earth in half?Tue, 10 Nov 2015 18:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/unsung-heroes-of-dota-2-elder-titan/Dota 2MOBAPro <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/eE5X2cOvRNCC.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/oVFM_lFhNGWK.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Elder Titan"></p><p> Every two weeks, PCG Pro hunts through <a href="http://www.dotabuff.com/">Dotabuff</a>’s extensive match records to find an ‘unsung hero’ of Dota 2: a character with both an above-average winrate and an unusually low pick rate. This week, that’s <strong>Elder Titan</strong>: a hero whose <strong>52.8% winrate</strong> is less impressive than that of some of the heroes we’ve featured previously, but whose <strong>1.98% pick rate</strong> makes him one of the game’s least popular characters. As such, Elder Titan hews closer to ‘hero you’re less likely to have accounted for’ than ‘hero who will win you every game’&mdash;but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get acquainted with him.</p><h1>What does Elder Titan do?</h1><p> Like <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/unsung-heroes-of-dota-2-abaddon/">Abaddon</a>, Elder Titan is a strength melee hero who acts in a supporting role but requires a bit of gold and experience to reach his potential. Unlike Abaddon, he is fairly skill-intensive and better suited to the offlane than to a babysitting role, falling into the same ‘position three but all the gold is going on utility items’ pattern as Phoenix. With that in mind, he has a lot to offer a coordinated team: incredible lockdown, damage and control that scales into the lategame, and a devastating aura.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/K8i-mO1iTNyJ.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Giv6FflEhpk2.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Elder Titan Echo Stomp" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" class="pulled-image pull-left"> <strong>Echo Stomp (Q)</strong> (not to be confused with Earthshaker’s Echo Slam) is an AoE ability that triggers in an area around both Elder Titan and his Astral Spirit after a 1.2 second channeling phase. It deals a relatively low amount of damage but puts enemy heroes to sleep for up to a lengthy five seconds. Sleeping enemies can’t act but are woken up the moment they take damage from a player-controlled unit. This is why coordination is key: if your team knows what they’re doing, a good Echo Stomp on a group of enemies allows individual heroes to be picked off one-by-one as their teammates take a nap. If your team has lots of unavoidable AoE damage, however, then its impact is less pronounced.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/npoRfoYjQbK5.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qJYGydE0eDYw.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Elder Titan Astral Spirit" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" class="pulled-image pull-left"> <strong>Astral Spirit (W)</strong> can be cast at long range to create a ghostly duplicate of Elder Titan. The Astral Spirit can’t attack and it freely phases through units and over terrain. Any unit it touches takes damage, and when the spirit returns to Elder Titan (either after a delay or by pressing W again) he gains bonus movement speed and damage for every unit hit. It also grants vision, acts as another source of Elder Titan’s aura, and uses Echo Stomp whenever Elder Titan does. Astral Spirit has so many different uses that success with the hero is almost entirely dependent on how comfortable you are with using it. If you’re uncomfortable with micromanagement, Elder Titan’s utility falls off a cliff. The better you get, however, the more influence and impact you gain&mdash;particularly in teamfights.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/pTNBi6gfSy20.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Bap3s__EA9tM.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Elder Titan Natural Order" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" class="pulled-image pull-left"> <strong>Natural Order (E)</strong> is a passive that reduces both armour and magic resistance in a short AoE around both Elder Titan and his Astral Spirit, scaling up to 100% armour reduction and 33% magic resistance at level 4. This massive debuff is one of the most efficient auras in the game, its usefulness only limited by its short range. You’ll max it last you avoid pushing the lane too early, but later on Natural Aura is extremely useful to your entire team: it allows magic-reliant supports to be more impactful for longer, it makes your carries hit harder, and it helps to counterbalance your enemy’s investment in protective items. Natural Order is the first reason that Elder Titan scales well into the lategame.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/L6zq5fq8S-6-.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1LmZ42IH4EFk.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Elder Titan Earth Splitter" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" class="pulled-image pull-left"> <strong>Earth Splitter (R)</strong> is the other. Elder Titan’s ultimate lays down a massive crevice on the ground that stretches for over 2000 units&mdash;more than screen length. After around three seconds the crevice detonates, applying a slow and dealing damage equivalent to 35% of the affected unit’s maximum health. This means that it effectively ignores bonus hitpoints picked up by an enemy over the course of the game. Half of this damage is physical, however, and half is magical&mdash;and as such, it can be reduced by both armour and magic resistance. The delay on detonation and massive visual effect also makes it easy to dodge. Wouldn’t it be great, therefore, if Elder Titan had (a) I way of making an enemy stay in place for more than three seconds and (b) some way of reducing armour and magic resistance? If only!</p><h1>Why Elder Titan?</h1><p> Elder Titan represents one of the most dramatic transformations of a character from DotA 1 to Dota 2. Formerly known as Tauren Chieftain, he sat so squarely inside the box called ‘names that Blizzard definitely, definitely own’ that a complete overhaul was necessary. DotA 1’s other Tauren hero, Earthshaker, became a kind of hulking bear-dog-cow in the transition. Elder Titan, meanwhile, is a great big yellow hairless minotaur who is either carrying a big industrial stapler or a briefcase depending on who you ask. I like the briefcase interpretation simply because it fits with the notion that ‘Elder’ was a title imparted upon him by the Mormon church and all he really wants to do is Astral Spirit himself through your porch to distribute pamphlets in an AoE. Right yes anyway this is supposed to be a guide let’s move on:</p><h3>He lanes well against groups</h3><p> Elder Titan can pull more out of a solo offlane than most other melee characters, even against a defensive trio. Astral Spirit is the key here: it allows him to harass, to secure last hits at range, and to pick up lots of damage and attack speed. While you have to be very careful not to overextend&mdash;as with any other character like this&mdash;it’s surprisingly possible for enemy supports to overextend against you. Most players underestimate just how much bonus damage Elder Titan can pick up from Astral Spirit, and if a squishy intelligence support gets hit by Echo Stomp then it might only take two or three further right-clicks to finish them off.</p><h3>Teamfight your own way</h3><p> That five-second sleep makes for one of the longest disables in the game if your team is able to work around it. Stack up the single-target damage on one enemy at a team and you can force a teamfight to occur with all of the enemy’s supports already dead. Alternatively, it allows for a relatively clean disengage: the AoE of the stomp is pretty large, and unless the enemy stacks up lots of stuns it’s not too hard to get it off in the middle of a fight, allowing your team to leave.</p><h3>No seriously his aura is really good</h3><p> 100% armour reduction isn’t quite as effective as it sounds&mdash;it only affects base armour and armour granted by agility&mdash;but it’s still huge. As long as you can keep Elder Titan or his Astral Spirit near whoever you want to die, they will almost certainly die. He makes a really good partner for single-target intensive carries like Phantom Assassin and Legion Commander: glue yourself to them, hit whoever they hit, and watch the enemy carry vanish.</p><h3>He’s a strength offlaner who doesn’t need a Blink Dagger</h3><p> Elder Titan’s initiation power comes from the combination of Echo Stomp and Astral Spirit, meaning that unlike Centaur Warrunner or Earthshaker he doesn’t really want to get on top of the enemy right away: he wants to get the spirit into position from safety and Echo Stomp from there. Couple this with the colossal range of Earth Splitter and that’s 2250 gold you don’t need to save up in the early game. This puts you in a good position to get an early Mekansm, a Pipe of Insight, or whatever else your team needs.</p><h3>His Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade is also really good</h3><p> Aghanim's Scepter adds a six second disarm to&nbsp;Earth Splitter (at level 3). This is an incredible counter to auto-attack-reliant enemy drafts in the lategame, particularly if you have the setup required to land it on everybody. Coupled with Echo Stomp, an Aghs-equipped Elder Titan can potentially shut down the damage output of an enemy carry for ten seconds or more.</p><h1>Items to consider</h1><p> <strong>Power Treads</strong> are standard to give Elder Titan (and his aura) more durability in prolonged fights, but he can make use of<strong> Arcane Boots</strong> if the team as a whole also benefits from bonus mana. After that, almost every aura and team utility item is good on him, from <strong>Drums of Endurance</strong> to <strong>Mekansm</strong>, <strong>Crimson Guard</strong>, <strong>Pipe of Insight</strong>, and <strong>Vladimir’s Offering</strong>. Later on you can look into getting that<strong> Aghanim’s Scepter</strong>, a <strong>Heaven’s Halberd</strong>,<strong> Shiva’s Guard</strong>, <strong>Assault Cuirass</strong>: as long as you are maximising your usefulness to your team, you can’t go massively wrong. I also quite like <strong>Necronomicon</strong> on him, in order to let you get a little bit more out of all those auras.</p><hr id="horizontal rule"> <p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> Six amazing moments from the StarCraft 2 World Championship 2015http://www.pcgamer.com/six-amazing-moments-from-the-starcraft-2-world-championship-2015/Banelings blocked, Dark Templars evacuated, trophies tested.Tue, 10 Nov 2015 17:02:47 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/six-amazing-moments-from-the-starcraft-2-world-championship-2015/BlizzconesportsProRTSStarCraft 2: Heart of the SwarmStarcraft II <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/MH3ABHlLR7qC.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cNKHni4ABTCF.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="SC2 Highlights Header"></p><p> You couldn't have asked for a better grand final. WCS 2015&mdash;the last tournament before Heart of the Swarm gave way to Legacy of the Void&mdash;offered some of the best competitive StarCraft 2 seen for a long time. The matchup of Life, a young Zerg player with a veteran athlete's attitude, and the unshakeable Protoss pilot sOs made for an amazing seven rounds.</p><p> The road to sOs’ ultimate victory was littered with surprise traps, top-tier micromanagement&mdash;even a botched Zergling rush. This was an incredibly diverse main event: these six moments make for a good place to start, but be sure to watch the full games too.</p><h3>A bad time for a bathroom break: Hydra vs. Rogue</h3><iframe src="http://gfycat.com/ifr/SpicySentimentalGentoopenguin" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="610" height="343" style="-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;-webkit-transform: scale(1);"> </iframe><p> <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PZI0dP9tMM">Watch the entire match here.</a></p><p> The Zergling rush is incredibly frustrating. Just as you're settling in for a game of strategy some goon walks into your base with half a dozen Zerglings and his own resource gatherers to end the game before it has begun.</p><p> In this Zerg-on-Zerg match, Hydra was that goon. Rogue kept his calm even so. His horde of harvesters bought him plenty of time. Not to mention a Queen that made Hydra's minor swarm look like domestic cats by comparison.</p><p> The exchange hardly lasted longer than the gif above. Hydra&mdash;his failed gambit having crippled his economy&mdash;bowed out seconds after the four minute mark.</p><h3>Don't feed the Banelings: Life vs. Classic</h3><iframe src="http://gfycat.com/ifr/HeartyGrossGoldenretriever" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="610" height="343" style="-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;-webkit-transform: scale(1);"> </iframe><p> <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/starcraft/v/24523048?t=02h24m07s">Watch the entire match here.</a></p><p> Life is known for a great many things, not least of which is his precise control over his units. In his second game against Protoss player Classic, however, we discovered that he's not the only one who can think on his feet.</p><p> With a nest of kamikaze Banelings secretly burrowed in his own base, you'd think Life would have no trouble defending it. Unfortunately, Classic spotted them out just as his squad mounted the ramp to Life's base. Without hesitation, Classic blinked his Stalkers back and behind a set of newly generated force fields faster than the human eye could follow.</p><h3>Fast, cheap, and economical: Life vs. sOs</h3><iframe src="http://gfycat.com/ifr/TintedPinkInvisiblerail" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="610" height="343" style="-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;-webkit-transform: scale(1);"> </iframe><p> <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/starcraft/v/24523048?t=05h31m40s">Watch the entire match here.</a></p><p> The first game of the grand finals between Life and sOs saw the two players testing each other. By sending four Zerglings to harass his opponent's harvesters, Life was basically just saying “hello”.</p><p> That kind of interruption, especially so early on in the game, could have been a problem for sOs. I say "could have" because the Protoss player didn't submit even one Probe to Life's aggressive inspection. Several of his harvesters were badly bruised, of course. Yet somehow the weakest of the herd always seemed to be one step ahead of Life's much faster units: until sOs dispatched them entirely, that is.</p><h3>No Dark Templar left behind: Life vs. sOs</h3><iframe src="http://gfycat.com/ifr/NauticalBestEuropeanpolecat" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="610" height="343" style="-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;-webkit-transform: scale(1);"> </iframe><p> <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/starcraft/v/24523048?t=06h12m53s">Watch the entire match here.</a></p><p> There's not much a Dark Templar can do against a swarm of Zerglings. On paper, the Protoss have the advantage. They do more damage, they have a lovely layer of shields, and of course they're invisible. But when surrounded on all sides, like sOs' roving band was after killing one of Life's Hatcheries, it's the numbers that matter.</p><p> The casters were already saying their prayers for sOs' comparatively costly units. They were too busy to see the aerial transport that came to ferry them over a cliff and out of reach. Sadly, it was too little too late. While his Templars reenacted Black Hawk Down he was losing the war on multiple other fronts.</p><h3>Parry, thrust, riposte: Life vs. sOs</h3><iframe src="http://gfycat.com/ifr/AromaticAdventurousDunnart" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="610" height="343" style="-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;-webkit-transform: scale(1);"> </iframe><p> <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/starcraft/v/24523048?t=06h23m15s">Watch the entire match here.</a></p><p> Great StarCraft micromanagement can look like magic. There are so many units moving at any given time that it's hard to think mortal hands alone could manage it.That's how it was between sOs and Life in game five of the grand finals.</p><p> With a bridge between them, the pair struck, withdrew, and countered without either seeming to make progress. sOs used his Stalkers' blink ability to rotate his shields, while Life relied on the Zerg's agility and numbers. Eventually, sOs found an opening. After that it was a short, bloody walk into Life's remaining bases&mdash;and after that, the championship.</p><h3>They warned us that trophy was heavy: sOs is crowned champion</h3><iframe src="http://gfycat.com/ifr/DelectableBestBlackbird" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="610" height="343" style="-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;-webkit-transform: scale(1);"> </iframe><p> Throughout the tournament the casters repeatedly reminded viewers that the first-place weighed more than it looked like. Trapped in a soundproof booth, sOs may not have gotten the memo.</p><p> Look closely and you can see the exact moment the 22-year-old questions whether the award is bolted to the podium. Next you'll see him decide in real-time that holding it above his head is a bad idea. Finally, you'll wonder whether the undoubtedly exhausted young man might tip towards an impromptu body surfing session from the extra weight.</p><hr id="horizontal rule"> <p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> Anno 2205 reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/anno-2205-review/Is this futuristic strategy sequel a little too streamlined? Tue, 10 Nov 2015 16:11:27 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/anno-2205-review/Anno 2205Reviews <p>I’m a soft Southern English man with typist’s hands, although I do have a callus where I pinched a finger in the lid of a Coke Zero. I grind my own coffee and I pronounce ‘quinoa’ not at all like it’s spelled. You can understand my terror, then, upon discovering that the entirety of my nascent megacorp’s workforce was made up of Liverpudlians. They were polite enough when I stopped by to make sure I was meeting their basic needs, but simmering class war would surely impact the financials&mdash;I had to gentrify, and fast. With a spate of promotions, I transformed my all-male workers into female Operators. That’s aspiration for you. Too soon, however, I’d feel the consequences of my scorn for the working classes: Anno 2205’s bourgeoisie are insufferable, hardly moving in before registering their demand for fresh fruit, vitamin drinks and, yes, organic rice. Ladies, we’ve just survived a climate disaster; you’ll shop in discount supermarkets like the rest of us.</p><p>This is standard fare for the city-building Anno series. It’s a balancing act involving cash flow, infrastructure and the ever-more unreasonable desires of your citizens. There’s a faint moral about the whole thing&mdash;about caring for the planet and global warming&mdash;although history seems on-course to repeat itself given your inhabitants’ incredible propensity to consume. Cybernetics are all the rage in the temperate islands that remain after the world’s sea-level rise in Anno 2070, while the hipsters on the moon want Rejuvenators (caffeine pills with a mark-up, I’ll bet).</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Sz-LlGAoTtO6.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Bf7J1Ky-JHqV.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="4"></p><p>Ah yes: the moon. Anno 2205 pits you against a range of NPC corporations in a race to colonise the moon and extract its delicious helium-3 with the long-term goal of building a fusion reactor. The moon being notoriously short on farmers’ markets and health food shops, supply lines must be established and maintained as a matter of priority, factoring the shipping costs into your budget. Like all city builders it’s an optimisation challenge, but, on standard difficulty where money flows and workers are eager to serve, not a tough one. The Lunar Licensing Program is a step-by-step guide through the campaign that sits in your mission log alongside other ‘quests’ (simple escort or collect-X tasks) doled out by your competitors. It tells you what to build and when, leaving you to plug the gaps in funding on your own initiative.</p><p>You have to be reactive rather than proactive in Anno games. Strategy doesn’t come into it: you lay down some dwellings and witness the havoc they wreak upon commodity levels before improving those facilities to restore balance. Anyone coming in from Cities: Skylines will find it minimalistic, allowing you to expand just about anywhere with a road without regard for zoning and correct mistakes as you make them. To the family whose house I had to drag and drop to the other side of the map to make way for a new Infodrome, I apologise.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0wL-k7C7Rv6d.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cWCZOD5zWNBM.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="10"></p><p>Once Modules are introduced, penalty-free relocation becomes an enormous benefit. No longer do you have to build two whole factories to do a job one slightly larger factory could accomplish. It’s cheaper and more efficient to expand an existing factory, which necessitates shunting a lot of stuff out of the way, particularly on the Arctic maps, where residences have to cluster around industry for heat. Lunar maps dictate that shield generators be established first to prevent meteors punching holes in rooftops. These are subtle variations, but a pleasant change of pace from the lawless sprawl of the temperate regions.</p><p>There is a sub-plot that accompanies Anno’s typically insipid RTS-lite elements in which you pilot a fleet of battleships around ice floes and islands blowing up moon terrorists and completing fetch quests for fellow CEOs (whose own battle fleets must be having their MOTs). The moon terrorists are angry because of exploitation or the distribution of wealth or some such, but I found it more enjoyable to imagine the plot of Iron Sky. These are optional distractions for additional resources&mdash;you can also progress by expanding your cities.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/8CpFVIIxS02A.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/B9USHG_OcCEj.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="6"></p><p>Anno 2205 does look gorgeous. This is a city builder that can easily tax your rig rendering a level of detail that has no value in itself but still made me smile when I realised that people on the moon do hop instead of walk. I do have to recommend installing Anno 2205 to an SSD if you’ve got the option, however: lengthy loading times between your corporate overview and each individual region put me off popping between maps as often as the game seemed to want me to.</p><p>This is the most streamlined, straightforward Anno yet. It’s pacier and much more forgiving than any other city builder that springs to mind, which makes it an excellent introduction to the genre. The balancing act lacks depth, however, and coupled with the lacklustre RTS component, it’s hard to see what a Cities: Skylines veteran would get out of Anno 2205’s gentle coaching.</p> Six things I wish I'd known before starting Fallout 4http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-guide/Essential tips for surviving the Commonwealth.Tue, 10 Nov 2015 15:27:45 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-guide/Fallout 4RPG Fallout 4 cheats and console commands can turn you into a superherohttp://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-cheats-and-console-commands-can-turn-you-into-a-superhero/Become an invincible, hundred-foot tall supersonic monster.Tue, 10 Nov 2015 10:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-cheats-and-console-commands-can-turn-you-into-a-superhero/Fallout 4RPG <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/wKx1OuXGQHaQ.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EGhzUryuxTM_.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 4 Setscale"></p><p> Ah, the humble&nbsp;tilde button, so useless. Unless, that is, you're playing a Bethesda game built on a variation of the Creation Engine. In that case the humble tilde key unlocks&nbsp;the console, a gateway that lets you mess with the game logic. Give yourself superpowers, spawn weapons and monsters, speed up time and complete the game with one tap of the Enter key.&nbsp;</p><p>Simply activate the console in-game, type the command you want, press enter and then close the console again and watch your command take effect. If the tilde button (left of the 1 key) doesn't work, try the apostrophe key. It seems to vary depending on the nationality of your keyboard settings.</p><p> <strong>tgm </strong>&mdash; Good old god mode.</p><p> <strong>tcl </strong>&mdash; No collision. Walk through walls. Walk into the sky. Be free.</p><p> <strong>tai </strong>&mdash; Turns AI off and causes everyone to stand still with a vacant look on their face.</p><p> <strong>tcai </strong>&mdash; Turns combat AI off. Brings peace to the world. Boring, boring peace.</p><p> <strong>killall </strong>&mdash; Kills everyone in the vicinity, apart from companions and any other characters deemed too vital to die. In that case they will slump down injured until you give them a stimpack.</p><p> <strong>kill [insert ID]</strong> &mdash; Kills the creature with the ID you supply. Type kill (0017fda3) now and wherever they are, the feral ghoul I tested this on will drop dead.</p><p> <strong>resurrect [insert ID]</strong> &mdash; Brings the creature with the ID you supply back to life. Type resurrect (0017fda3) to bring the feral ghoul I tested this on back to life!&nbsp;He's having a torrid day.</p><p><strong>setgs fJumpHeightMin [insert number here] </strong>&mdash; Modifies your jump. Set it really high to vault over buildings like the Incredible Hulk. Warning, if you don't turn on god mode, the falling damage from your own jump will kill you.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mfKNogalQLCT.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/wpSBN9iCg3oq.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 4 jumping" class=""><figcaption>I can see my house from here!</figcaption></figure><p><strong style="background-color: initial;">player.setav speedmult [insert number here]</strong> &mdash; The number you type in adds multiplier to your running speed, with hilarious consequences. Use in combination with god mode and the next command to go full superhero.</p><p> <strong>tfc </strong>&mdash; Activates flycam. This and the next command are&nbsp;great if you want to get good screenshots.</p><p> <strong>tm</strong> &mdash; Toggles menus and UI on and off. It even stops you from seeing the console, so you'll have to press tilde and type tm again blind to get the UI back.</p><p> <strong>setscale [number from 1 to 10]</strong> &mdash; Makes you or your target HUGE. See the results in the picture at the top of the article.</p><p> <strong style="background-color: initial;">sexchange</strong> &mdash; You'll never guess.</p><p> <b style="background-color: initial;">player/additem 0000000f [insert number here] </b>&mdash; Adds bottlecaps equal to the number you specify.</p><p> <strong>player/additem 0000000a [insert number here] </strong>&mdash; Adds bobbypins equal to the number you specify.</p><p> <strong>player.additem [insert item ID here] [insert number here]</strong> &mdash; You may have noticed a pattern in the last two commands. Yes, you can add ANY item to your inventory this way&nbsp;as long as you know the item&nbsp;ID. The next command can help you find item IDs.</p><p> <strong>coc qasmoke</strong> &mdash; This teleports you to a room with a number of boxes that contain <em>every single item in the game</em>. Surreal, but a good way to find item IDs. You can find an item ID by entering the console and clicking on the item in the game world with your mouse. It&nbsp;turns out that Dogmeat's real name is 0001d162. Alternatively, community wikis will have listed every item ID within a few days.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cPxMGcJhThuZ.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/qeZ8DxuJhq0K.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 4 boxes of everything" class=""> <figcaption>What do you give the box that has everything?</figcaption></figure><p> <strong>set timescale to [insert number here]&nbsp;</strong> &mdash; Speeds up or slows down time. The default setting is 16. 1 is realtime, 10,000 is crazy spectacular timelapse. Be sure to look when time's on fast forward because the sun and the moon actually bounce across the sky.</p><p> <strong>tdetect </strong>&mdash; The AI won't detect you anymore. Steal to your heart's content.</p><p> <strong>player.modav</strong><strong> [skill] [number]</strong> &mdash; Boost a skill by a numerical amount of your choosing. Eg. player.modav strength 10 will boost your strength by ten points. If there's a terminal you'd love to hack or an NPC you'd love to persuade, use this.</p><p> <strong>player.setlevel [insert number]</strong> &mdash; Boost your level to the number specified.</p><p> <strong>caqs</strong> &mdash; This completes every step of the primary quest, effectively completing the game for you. <strong>WARNING: </strong>that.Don't use it if you want to avoid spoiling the entire game for yourself.</p><p>There are bound to be lots more that the community will uncover in the coming weeks. We'll keep our eyes open and update this list with the good ones.</p> Steam Controller review in progresshttp://www.pcgamer.com/steam-controller-review/The more time you spend with a Steam Controller, the closer it feels to using a mouse. But it'll never be quite as good.Tue, 10 Nov 2015 09:32:14 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/steam-controller-review/HardwareSteam ControllerSteamOSValve <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/XSRaerxnSRis.JPG" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1BEPJ6rkOlmJ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steam Controller buttons"></p><p> There are many pieces in Valve’s plan to push into the living room. Steam Big Picture for Windows. The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/steam-link-review/">Steam Link</a> for streaming to a cheap set top box. SteamOS for leaving Windows behind and competing with consoles.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/steamvr-everything-you-need-to-know/">SteamVR</a> for being at the forefront of gaming technology. At the center of it all is the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/steam-controller/">Steam Controller</a>, first promised in 2013 as the living room PC’s salvation: a gamepad that can play anything and everything, including the mouse-driven precision shooters and strategy games that have never worked in the living room. And it can play everything. Just not necessarily very well.</p><p> Through a long iterative process, the Steam Controller ended up with a thumbstick and ABXY face buttons, a disappointing hybrid of a better gamepad and a real PC mouse. The Steam Controller is probably the best possible attempt to replicate the accuracy of a mouse in a controller. I don’t think Valve failed; after spending hours gaming with the Steam controller, I’m unsure if <em>anything</em> could’ve really done the job of a mouse in the body of a gamepad.</p><p> To get weird for a second, when Valve showed us the Steam Controller, they promised us ice cream cake. Ice cream cake is a king among desserts.&nbsp;It’s the best of ice cream and the best of cake fused into something greater. But even in its best moments, the Steam Controller feels like a compromise. It’s not ice cream cake. The Steam Controller is more like a Choco Taco.</p><p> I’ve put hours more gaming time onto the Steam Controller since <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/steam-controller-impressions/">writing my first impressions</a>, and I do like it more than I did then. But most of my criticisms still stand, and I have some new ones. I think the ABXY buttons are smaller than they should be. The right trackpad’s completely smooth surface could use some sort of texture to guide your thumb. The bumpers and triggers, while nice and responsive, click in a plasticky way that feels cheap compared to Microsoft and Sony’s controllers. It’s easy to accidentally squeeze the rear grips while gaming. Using the thumbstick and right trackpad together&mdash;mixing two very different input types and degrees of accuracy&mdash;still feels strange. Maybe that one’s still just down to habit and muscle memory. After all, the WASD keys and mouselook are completely different forms of control.</p><p> Mostly, the shape of the controller is fine. I don’t think many people will prefer it over an Xbox or PlayStation controller, but it’s comfortable in my hands. After using the Steam Controller in a wide variety of games, I’ve grown more adept at using the trackpad as a mouse replacement and don’t outright hate it the way I did at the start. Here’s a snapshot of my experiences in a number of games.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/vPLucyVOSiyH.JPG" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/w_oEBtreNBi6.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steam Controller touching" class=""></p><h3>Observations from gaming</h3><p> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/ftl/"><strong>FTL</strong></a> gave me my best experience using the trackpad as a mouse. The deliberate roguelike let me pause and take my time to order my crew around, click on elements of the UI, target enemy ships, and open and close doors the way I would using a mouse. I was clumsy at first, often overshooting things on the screen and doing everything by mouse pointer. Gradually I started adjusting to the community controller profile I’d selected and using more hotkeys to alleviate my pointing. I got faster and more accurate.</p><p> But my entire playthrough (all the way to the final boss!) took easily twice as long as it would’ve if I had a mouse. I’d often try and fail to highlight crewmembers and doors over and over again, as the action of pressing a button would just slightly jitter my cursor off of them. I spent at least an hour of total playtime paused, very slowly doling out orders. The entire time I was playing, I could never shake the dissatisfaction with the inherently fumbly nature of this experience. The controller was working, but I would’ve played better, more quickly, and had more fun using a mouse.</p><p> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/galak-z/"><strong>Galak-Z</strong></a> played quite well with the Steam Controller using standard gamepad mode and felt just as good as using a standard gamepad. I think it could’ve also worked well emulating keyboard and mouse.</p><p> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/dungeon-defenders-2/"><strong>Dungeon Defenders 2</strong></a> was a miserable experience to get working properly. I checked out a number of community profiles before modifying one to my own liking, but all involved mapping a number of important keyboard commands to the D-Pad directions and ABXY, with one of the rear paddles serving as a ‘shift’ key for four more inputs. This kind of clunky forced mapping is never going to equal smart game design built around the capabilities of a controller. I think any strategy game with numerous keyboard hotkeys would be even worse.</p><p>Also, for controlling a character in third-person, the trackpad isn’t as convenient as an analog stick, because there’s no rim to press the stick against and rotate. It is possible to replicate this behavior through software configuration, but it’s not the same as the physical sensation.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/s9pu2pg0QAiQ.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/dEnsvq5mye4h.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="A large chunk of your Steam library will require a custom configuration." class=""><figcaption>A large chunk of your Steam library will require a custom configuration.</figcaption></figure><p> <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/kerbal-space-program/"><strong>Kerbal Space Program</strong></a> was a good representation of a mouse-driven game, but I unfortunately found it unplayable on a TV; the UI was too small to be readable, and there were far too many menus and tabs to navigate with the trackpad. Building a ship in Kerbal felt much like playing FTL: I could do it, but it was slow and frustrating.</p><p> <strong>Tower Wars</strong> was an interesting case. It’s a tower defense game with a simple pop-up radial menu. It was easy to swipe circles around the trackpad to select with towers to build, and equally easy to highlight towers, bring up the menu again, and upgrade them with the same menu. The game didn’t work very well in the living room&mdash;it’s too dense to really be readable at a distance&mdash;but I knew the towers well enough to survive in the simple tower defense mode. There’s another mode, which involves building a tower and also sending your own units against the enemy. I failed at that one using the Steam Controller, because quickly and accurately selecting troops from the UI (which was hard to see to begin with) proved too fiddly. Even playing the simple mode, I mostly remembered how much more fun the game was at my PC.</p><p> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/killing-floor-2/">Killing Floor 2</a> </strong>showed me that mouselook can work on the Steam Controller, and if you devote enough time to it, it’ll absolutely be more accurate than an analog stick. Using a community profile helped me dial in the sensitivity enough to pull off headshots with a bit of practice. My accuracy was more fragile than it would be on a PC. At a distance, I could line up shots and blast zeds right in the skull. When they got up close, quickly swiping on the trackpad to look in another direction and escape from a crowd got fumbly and I usually died, or took a ton of damage trying to escape. I’d sometimes find that clenching my hands, pulling a grip or a trigger while trying to do something delicate with the trackpad would throw off aim just slightly.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3xA3yAuFTxi7.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VqkYAh5znhVP.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Changing input mode and sensitivity drastically change how the trackpad functions." class=""><figcaption>Changing input mode and sensitivity drastically change how the trackpad functions.</figcaption></figure><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/nuclear-throne/"><strong>Nuclear Throne</strong></a> was another precision game that I was able to play on the Steam Controller, but I was constantly walking on eggshells. Enemies I could dispatch casually with mouse aiming I had to take care to eliminate with my thumb on the trackpad. I really came to appreciate the grips with Nuclear Throne; I loved being able to squeeze them to swap weapons super quickly without moving a finger to a new button.</p><p> I realized playing Nuclear Throne how vital the grips and triggers are to this controller. With an analog stick, it’s easy to aim, quickly move your thumb from the stick to the face buttons, and then back again. The stick moves in a limited radius that’s easy to wrap your head around. The trackpad, by contrast, is a blank space you scroll on, often by swiping your thumb, lifting, and swiping again. There’s more potential for accuracy, but that in turn requires more constant motion and adjustment. I found that I never wanted my thumb to leave that pad. You’ll notice the default and community profiles use the right trigger or clicking the right touchpad for your most common input command, rather than the typical A button.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-NHvdfb3Qeua.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/v2iEDTuHQlgJ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="There are still updates to come." class=""><figcaption>There are still updates to come.</figcaption></figure><h3>The Big Picture</h3><p> I played some other games with the Steam Controller. I want to spend even more time with it, because I think I’ll continue to improve my aim in first-person games like Killing Floor, and find more versatility in its customization, which is deep and complex. Right now, most PC games without native controller support will only work well on the Steam Controller if there’s a community-created profile for that game. If there isn’t one, you’ll have to make one for yourself; the default option of ‘gamepad plus mouselook’ will often leave you unable to properly browse menus, or with key keyboard commands unmapped.</p><p> Community profiles are a good solution, although you can expect most people to simply choose the one at the top of the list, which isn’t always the best (one of the ones for Dungeon Defenders II I tried didn’t even have the command to repair towers mapped, which is pretty important). Also, unless you mess with the customization yourself, it’s difficult to understand what makes one profile different or better than another. There are huge differences in tracking speed, the amount of ‘friction’ the trackpad has, and how acceleration behaves.</p><p> Ironically, adjusting all of these settings for a custom Steam Controller profile uses an interface (multiple drop down menus, sliders, text entry fields) that’s much faster to control with a keyboard and mouse. Make no mistake: the Steam Controller is not a magical cure-all for transposing keyboard and mouse commands into the form of a controller. You’re going to need custom settings for every game, either from the community or of your own creation. If you’re not prepared to spend time customizing the controls for every game you play, the controller is definitely not for you.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/61Hxl3aPQwW7.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/lghEtWthwK2F.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="This input mode is meant to work with games that can't handle gamepad+mouselook simultaneously." class=""><figcaption>This input mode is meant to work with games that can't handle gamepad+mouselook simultaneously.</figcaption></figure><p>Valve is clearly still working on the controller, with firmware updates and software changes in Big Picture mode. <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/steam-link-review">The streaming and Big Picture software for the Steam Link are similarly unfinished</a>, and I still need to spend more time with the controller before giving it a final score and an expanded review. At the end of October, they added a new control mode for the trackpad to solve compatibility issues for some of the other control types, and there may be more significant tweaks coming in the next few weeks. Steam’s entire big picture ecosystem still feels very much a work-in-progress beta.</p><p> I have no doubt that some diehard PC gamers will put in tons of time customizing Steam Controller profiles, practicing, and becoming much more accurate than they ever would be with gamepad aiming. But the best you’re ever going to get is <em>almost</em> as good as a mouse, and I think games designed for an Xbox or PlayStation pad will still play better with the native hardware. Spending hours trying out the Steam Controller in the living room, I realized that don’t see much reason to make that compromise. There are very few PC games without controller support that I really want to play on my TV. When I tried, I mostly ended up just missing my mouse.</p> Steam Link review in progresshttp://www.pcgamer.com/steam-link-review/The Steam Link hardware can handle streaming, but Valve's software needs a lot of work to be a pleasantliving room experience.Tue, 10 Nov 2015 08:01:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/steam-link-review/HardwareSteam In-Home StreamingSteam LinkValve <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2cPaP5FtT7Cd.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EUYzGePH3PdF.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steam Link Thumb"></p><p>There are many days when I love PC gaming. When I boot up a game and it just works. When I can switch back and forth between a controller and mouse/keyboard on the fly. When I find brilliant mods that improve upon already great games. When I can enjoy the technology I’m bringing to bear, downsampling a game from 4K, tweaking settings for the best possible image quality, or running at over 100 frames per second.</p><p>Occasionally there are days when I hate PC gaming. When I can’t get a game to run, no matter how much troubleshooting, forum sleuthing, and driver reinstalling I do. When joining games with my friends is a Herculean task that should be simple. When the power and openness of the platform means there are too many variables that can and do go wrong, I decide to give it up for the day and go watch a movie instead. Every time I’ve planted myself on the couch for the past month to test the Steam Link has been one of those bad days.</p><p>There are moments where a game just works, and I’m playing it in my living room through a $50 piece of hardware, and it’s great. Those moments are rare. The good times have been peppered throughout an experience that is consistently frustrating, crash-prone, and seemingly not really ready for a full public release.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/C1chVlifRhGx.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hB1wp4UZzsix.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steam Link Rocket League"></p><p>My experience using the Steam Link for Valve’s In-Home Streaming has changed quite a bit <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/steam-link-impressions-fantastic-in-home-streaming-for-50/">since I wrote my first impressions a month ago</a>, and changed even more dramatically since I first dabbled with streaming in 2014. A month ago, I mostly wrote about the performance of streaming over wired and Wi-Fi and the image quality that comes along with the encoded video. Those aspects of streaming I’m still mostly positive about, and I still like the hardware.</p><p>It handles video decoding without issue, includes built-in Wi-Fi (though you should really use wired), can connect to Steam Controllers without a dongle, and is small and unobtrusive. The Link could use a fourth USB port though, and two of the three ports are placed on the back of the device&mdash;not exactly ideal for plugging in wired controllers.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iVbeNYh-RJ2C.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/kpuZop-BO_lD.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steam Link inputs"></p><p>Latency over a wired connection is basically nonexistent, usually hovering around 0.1 milliseconds. The default ‘automatic’ bitrate will retain a mostly clear picture in slower-paced games with simpler levels of graphical detail. In busier games, the image quality suffers badly. When I tested with tower defense game Tower Wars, the number of projectiles and fast-moving units on the screen turned my entire image into a blocky, ugly mess of video encoding artifacts–there was just too much data for the bitrate to handle. Turning the bitrate from ‘automatic’ to ‘unlimited’ fixed this problem, ramping bandwidth usage up well past 30 megabits per second in exchange for a much clearer image. Steam warns that this setting increases latency, but I didn’t feel any more latency while playing, nor did I notice a significant increase in the real-time monitoring tool built into In-Home Streaming.</p><blockquote>When streaming works, it works well. But those times are rare.</blockquote><p>Those are the positives: when streaming works, it works well. But those times are rare, and actually playing a game means wading through crashes, controller frustrations, and streaming compatibility issues. Most frustrating, those crashes and streaming issues often require problem-solving on the host PC. An afternoon of testing games on the Steam Link usually means trudging upstairs to my PC half a dozen times to close a pop-up that pulled me out of the game I was trying to stream, restarting Steam after it mysteriously crashed, or closing a game that suddenly refuses to take controller inputs.</p><p>I encountered these issues again and again streaming to the Steam Link in a variety of games. Duck Game wouldn’t recognize controller inputs and was impossible to quit; using the Steam overlay to exit the game left it running in the background with menu music at full blast. Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris defaulted to recognizing the keyboard attached to my PC, making it impossible to play with two players using controllers. Dungeon Defenders II opened a web browser when I launched it, which I walked upstairs to close instead of fiddling with the Steam Controller’s mouse support to get the game running again.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/u-HvzFMLQGKs.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/4CtmQHrZJRY2.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steam Big Picture Resume"></p><p>During my testing of other games (including Killing Floor 2, Nuclear Throne, Armello, Warhammer: The End Times - Vermintide, Fez, FTL, and more) I experienced multiple crashes and situations where a game didn’t seem to properly launch for streaming, either giving me a black screen or returning to Big Picture Mode. Other times, I’d get into a game, and trying to pull up the Big Picture mode overlay to quit would be sluggish or unresponsive.</p><p>I’ve never experienced so many Steam crashes in all the years I’ve used it. In fact, when I dabbled with streaming last year, I don’t remember it ever crashing. If it did, it was uncommon. I’ve put much more time into streaming in the past month, so maybe I just got lucky before. But it does seem like Valve’s been working at a breakneck pace since sending out early review hardware, updating the Steam client beta near-daily and pumping out firmware updates for the Steam Controller almost as frequently. This is one of the two main problems with Steam In-Home Streaming: the software simply feels unstable, and troubleshooting from the couch is much more difficult and much more frustrating than it is at a desk with a mouse. </p><p>The other problem is one I’m worried that Valve won’t be able to solve, no matter how much they refine Big Picture Mode and the code that makes streaming function: Windows. Windows is the root cause of most of those bad PC gaming days I mentioned earlier: it's a big, vastly complex OS with drivers and pop-up windows that plays host to all sorts of different game engines. Streaming can only be great so long as it completely isolates you from the rest of the Windows ecosystem. As soon as a pop-up dialogue or a firewall warning or a launcher intrudes, streaming breaks or pulls you out of Big Picture mode and leaves you squinting at the desktop. That’s a failure. As soon as a game inexplicably won't boot up or quit or recognize an input because its engine doesn’t play nicely with streaming–and there's no way to tell what's wrong–that’s a failure.</p><p>Perhaps SteamOS is the answer to all of these problems&mdash;in its custom version of Linux, Valve <em>can </em>control the whole ecosystem&mdash;but I don't see that as a solution for more than a few diehard Linux gamers. Most of the SteamOS rigs are aimed at the living room anyway, making streaming to the Link redundant. And even if streaming from SteamOS is more stable, you lose access to the thousands of games only available on Windows.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/GA6Q6EFRTrSG.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/OL0CIo-uLost.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Steam Big Picture Not Made For Controller"></p><p>There’s only so much of this Valve can control in Windows. After a few weeks of testing streaming, I’m skeptical that it can ever offer the simplicity of using a Roku or Apple TV or PS4 in the living room. There are simply too many things that can go wrong, pulling you out of your blissful big screen experience to walk over to your PC to fix the problem. For some PC gamers, that will be okay. Troubleshooting comes with the platform. But if I’m going to troubleshoot, I’d rather not leave my desk in the first place. </p><p>Another problem is that many PC games are missing easy ways to scale up the UI for a TV, even if they work decently with the Steam controller. That leaves streaming a genuinely good option for only a narrow slice of games available on Steam, and there’s really no way to know which games will work well without trying them.</p><p>With trial and error or a lot of luck, your Steam In-Home Streaming experience may end up far better than mine, but right now I’d consider the Steam Link a $50 bet. The hardware gets the job done, but the software still badly needs work. Since it’s so clearly unfinished I’m not attaching a score yet, but I wouldn’t recommend buying the Steam Link to anyone as it currently functions.</p> How to tweak Fallout 4's hidden graphics optionshttp://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-tweak-fallout-4s-hidden-graphics-options/Change your FOV, uncap your framerate, and find the settings that work for you.Tue, 10 Nov 2015 01:34:37 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/how-to-tweak-fallout-4s-hidden-graphics-options/Fallout 4Must ReadRPG <div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">Graphics options</h5><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0Xv7Yr3RQv69.PNG" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9grWtzXjM4lG.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 4 Options 01"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/XnCh3jIzR7KX.PNG" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hP7SfgHJQbDp.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 4 Options 02"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WQMHwKIWQmeC.PNG" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-hcKUHoMXveV.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout Options 03"></p></div><p> Fallout 4 is a pretty great game. <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-review/">We liked it a lot</a>, but unfortunately, it’s not a perfect PC release. A few graphical options aren’t available up front&mdash;they require a bit of digging and .ini file editing in order to get comfortable. Luckily, we’ve had the game long enough to have it mostly figured out&mdash;so&nbsp;if you want to change the FOV or unlock the framerate, here's what you need to know:</p><h4>Graphical options are mostly limited to the launcher</h4><p> In line with other Bethesda PC releases, there’s a launcher for the game up front where you can tweak all the options before getting into the game. Handy, except the only important options you can change in-game are object, actor, grass, and item fade distances.</p><h4>Change&nbsp;the FOV</h4><p> The biggest offender for PC players is the lack of an FOV slider. The default FOV has been fine for me, but some players will no doubt feel boxed in.Luckily, a Steam user has already <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=551069501&amp;tscn=1447077828">put out a guide</a> for how to manually change FOV options by doing a bit of digging.</p><p> First, find the Fallout4.ini file located by default in \Documents\My Games\Fallout4, open it, and paste the following under the ‘[Display]’ block:</p><p> fDefaultWorldFOV= <em>FOV Value</em> <br> fDefault1stPersonFOV= <em>FOV Value</em></p><p> <em>FOV Value</em> should be replaced with whatever you see fit. Do the same for the Fallout4Prefs.ini located in the Documents\My Games\Fallout4 folder. Finally, head to your Steam install directory, likely ‘Steam\SteamApps\common\Fallout 4\Fallout4’, and paste the same information beneath the [Display] block. Save, and your FOV should now be changed. The default is 70, so change it in increments until you find a comfortable field. It’s inconvenient, for sure, but at least there’s a way.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Ym3RmYaLQKqC.bmp" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zc8sjipoP5Ur.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Default FOV at 70" class=""><figcaption>Default FOV at 70</figcaption></figure><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Lb2LIktmTrqr.bmp" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gICrtbpc0sPc.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Default FOV at 110" class=""><figcaption>Default FOV at 110</figcaption></figure><h4>Set a custom resolution</h4><p> If you’re running a 4K or ultra wide monitor you can enter custom resolutions in the Fallout4Prefs.ini file located in your documents folder.</p><p> bTopMostWindow=1 <br> bMaximizeWindow=1 <br> bBorderless=1 <br> bFull Screen=0 <br> iSize H=XXXX <br> iSize W=YYYY</p><p> The UI doesn’t scale, so keep that in mind, but you can always turn it off just to ogle the landscape with by pressing the tilde key (~), typing “-tm”, and hitting Enter. Don’t expect a stable environment with custom resolutions. Anytime I tried to take a screenshot with FRAPS, the game crashed immediately.</p><h4>Uncap your framerate</h4><p> Fraps has been capping out at 60 frames-per-second as I play, which obviously isn’t ideal for folks who want to fully utilize their 120 Hz or higher monitors. Here’s how to unlock it:</p><p> Head to the Fallout4Prefs.ini file located by default in \Documents\My Games\Fallout4, open it and search for ‘iPresentInterval=1’. Change that 1 to a 0, hit save, and let your framerate run free. Be warned though, we’ve been unable to test it extensively, so unlocking the framerate might have some messy side effects.</p><h4> Change the brightness on your monitor</h4><p> There’s not built-in gamma slider in Fallout 4, which may be a minor nitpick, but it’s easy for the already desaturated landscape to look extra washed out without proper gamma balance. Without a slider, you can eyeball the brightness if you know what to look for. Otherwise, use <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=brightness+calibration&amp;oq=brightness+calibration&amp;aqs=chrome..69i57.9323j0j7&amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;es_sm=122&amp;ie=UTF-8">online calibration tools or images</a> to make sure your colors are the best they can be.</p><h4>Settings to prioritize</h4><p> If you need a few extra frames to at least maintain a constant 30-plus, I found that ‘Shadow quality’ and ‘Godrays quality’ made the biggest difference. With everything else maxed on a modest rig, bumping each of those down from Ultra to High gave me an extra 10 fps without obvious visual compromise. Knocking down the textures and render distances doesn’t hurt much either since you’re not always looking to the horizon (even if they look super pretty cranked up).</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Wxo1nXybQeey.bmp" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YRxz3-k9j223.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Graphic options on their lowest settings (1920x1080)" class=""><figcaption>Graphic options on their lowest settings</figcaption></figure><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/R7Gin16qRQ-x.bmp" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HR2mK4O3ctB0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Graphic options on their highest settings (1920x1080)" class=""><figcaption>Graphic options on their highest settings</figcaption></figure><p> Anti-aliasing can be taxing depending on the type, of course, but it’s an important one: jaggies are particularly distracting with Fallout 4’s long vistas, especially when so many are topped by erratic tree branches. <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pc-graphics-options-explained/">FXAA and TAA</a> options are available, the former of which&nbsp;is a post-processing filter applied to the entire scene. It’s less taxing, and can feel a bit blurrier than the TAA option, which is a type of anti-aliasing supported on Nvidia’s Kepler GPUs. It’s a nicer effect, but certainly more taxing. Without anti-aliasing, each tree-lined horizon turns into a horrific strip of tree static. It’s incredibly distracting, especially in a visually dense game like Fallout 4.</p> Hands-on with WoW: Legion’s demon hunter classhttp://www.pcgamer.com/hands-on-with-wow-legions-demon-hunter-class/We double jump and glide through a demo of WoW's upcoming demon hunter class.Tue, 10 Nov 2015 01:30:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/hands-on-with-wow-legions-demon-hunter-class/BlizzardBlizzconMMORPGWorld of WarcraftWorld of Warcraft: Legion <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/q1S6H6VRBEU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p> Demons have come a long way in the Warcraft universe, from appearing in one level of Warcraft II (and referred to as ‘daemons’ in the manual) to being the primary villains of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Now they’re essentially hosting the next World of Warcraft expansion, Legion,&nbsp;and hot on their heels also&nbsp;comes the demon hunter class. Players won’t officially slip into the tortured souls of demon hunters until 2016 when Legion releases, but BlizzCon 2015 attendees got to take the class out for a test drive. And&nbsp;I&nbsp;liked what I&nbsp;played, especially the movement abilities.</p><p> Demon hunters can dash, double jump, and glide on very short cooldowns. After playing most other classes in WoW, switching to demon hunter feels like trading in a cement mixer for a Ferrari. The only class that really comes close to being as mobile is the monk, with its rolls and flying dragon kicks. Demon hunters can move around as much if not more, but do so in more dimensions, so it really feels quite unique.&nbsp;</p><p> In our interview with Executive Producer J. Allen Brack (embedded above), he said that making demon hunters the most mobile class in the game was a key&nbsp;design goal for the team. These qualities actually make Illidan the least believable demon hunter in Azeroth: I can't imagine a demon hunter not double jump dash gliding everywhere.</p><p> The mobility of demon hunters was my most immediate takeaway, but their look and feel should also make them popular. The appearance customization options at character creation include horn style, tattoos, eye coverings, and various&nbsp;skin options. You can look stunningly similar to Illidan if that's your occult jam, or even go with a hornless, tattoo-free, blind monk vibe.&nbsp;</p><p> While the lore has demon hunters giving up their eyes in order to get spectral sight (more on that in a moment), you can eschew any eye coverings and just have burning green eye sockets. The skin options can leave you with "normal" skin, skin that seems to have fel energy bursting out, or a more ‘demonic’ scaled kind of look. Plus, when a demon hunter glides, a pair of bat-like wings pop out of the back. It feels pretty cool.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/S1YIgvvnQ5C5.JPG" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/iiEY0Z2Q1fYz.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Demon Hunter 3 copy"></p><p> The demon hunter ‘feel’ also&nbsp;comes through in how they fight. As World of Warcraft has evolved, Blizzard has gradually implemented marginal health recovery options for every class so that leveling by yourself isn't a waking nightmare. For demon hunters, a passive ability called ‘Shattered Souls’ creates a purplish orb on the battlefield after the player kills something that rewards experience or honor. Trundling over said orb restores 25 percent of the demon hunter's health (in the demo this could crit). If the slain baddie was a demon, the demon hunter also gains a temporary damage buff.&nbsp;</p><p> In the “very cool but of questionable application” category we have spectral sight. Demon hunters can essentially flick a switch and see invisible creatures and through walls. The animation for this in the demo was nifty, with the creatures showing up with an infrared heat signature and the edges of your UI consumed in flickering green flames.</p><p> Lots of longtime WoW players will want to know how viable demon hunters are in raiding and PVP environments. The truth is that it’s hard to say yet, and anyone with a strong opinion one way or another is blowing smoke. With such a long gap between this playable demo and game release, any numbers from the demo&mdash;damage, hit points, percentages&mdash;are subject to change.&nbsp;Additionally, the demo works in a similar fashion to the death knight opening levels from Wrath of the Lich King, with gradual, phased progress and a slow introduction of abilities.&nbsp;</p><p> At this point it’s unrealistic to make any sort of end game projection without all the abilities available. For example, in the demo, demon hunters only gain one talent point. We had to complete about two thirds of the playable demo before choosing between a damage or a tanking specialization, as well. That said, I expect&nbsp;there will be a ton of demon hunters wandering around&nbsp;regardless of technical viability. They're&nbsp;new, they can fly (kind of), they can see invisible dudes, and they&nbsp;look awesome. That will be more than enough boxes ticked for most WoW players.</p><p> <em>Additional interview&nbsp;reporting by Leif Johnson.</em></p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/erc0-179RJ6T.JPG" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-TUuZXVUapMs.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Demon Hunter 2 copy"></p> A tour of Battlefield 4's new Operation Outbreak maphttp://www.pcgamer.com/a-tour-of-battlefield-4s-new-operation-outbreak-map/Run (and gun) through the jungle.Mon, 09 Nov 2015 18:44:34 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/a-tour-of-battlefield-4s-new-operation-outbreak-map/Battlefield 4FPSProTriggernometry <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_qh1wxMiSO2H.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/g7XLbEHVO2Iz.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Battlefield 4 Outbreak jungle"></p><p> A good Battlefield map follows a satisfyingly alliterative criteria: sightlines, shelter, and suitable flankways. <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/free-battlefield-4-map-operation-outbreak-coming-this-fall/">Operation Outbreak</a>, the outcome of DICE’s <a href="http://www.battlefield.com/battlefield-4/community-map-project">Community Map Project</a> made freely available in last week’s <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/battlefield-4-community-operations-and-fall-update-roll-out-tomorrow/">major update</a>, is a good Battlefield map. It isn’t perfect&mdash;some spawn zones are dangerously bereft of cover and a couple clipping snags with the geography can cause sticking issues&mdash;but its swaths of jungle and rocky terrain affords spacious ground for 64-player Conquest slugfests or the steady burn of Rush’s unceasing chaos. Much like the Zavod 311 launch map (and its alternative <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/battlefield-4s-night-maps/">nighttime version</a>), infantry combat with light vehicular support is Outbreak’s focus.</p><h3>The phantom of the jungle</h3><p> Outbreak’s primary highlight is its visual theme: a dense jungle of overgrown trees and foliage occasionally broken by small groups of structures&mdash;including an impressively grand ancient temple&mdash;that serve as capture points. Beyond the Frostbite engine eagerly flexing its power with strong volumetric lighting breaking through boughs and intense shadows on the terrain, the bush is a tactical boon for infantry. It provides ample means of quickly withdrawing from or maneuvering around a push or an entrenched position. The map’s small hills and bouldery crags are ideal for closing the distance to a target or objective while staying out of sight. It’s a nice departure from the high exposure factor of foot travel on Golmud Railway or Rogue Transmission.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/5iF81VVYTtiG.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/lVI5Faz2m-wJ.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Battlefield 4 Outbreak refinery"></p><p> Where Outbreak’s jungle turns problematic is when it starts disappearing. Through explosions, churning tank treads, or simply enough bullets, trees and vegetation fall over or splinter apart. Objective points and their surrounding environs take plenty of collateral damage throughout a match, and that leaves chunks of land where little remains of cover. Vehicles&mdash;transport choppers and zippy APCs, in particular&mdash;can easily prey on traversing infantry if their occupants simply clear off trees and other growth covering the most frequently used pathways between objectives.</p><h3>A temple, a tank, a tunnel</h3><p> Capture point B sits in the remains of a gorgeous-looking temple courtyard complete with roaring waterfalls cascading in the background. Although it’s fun tracking scrambling soldiers and trading fire atop the rubble of the courtyard, it leaves everyone wide open for long-range vehicle bombardment, and tank gunners coming from the westward US spawn can easily draw a bead to the temple from the dirt road snaking away to the main US base. A set of tunnels running beneath the courtyard tends to see clumped groups of infantry huddling for cover, so a few well-thrown frag or smoke grenades can quickly cause some disarray. The flag includes the beefy M82A3 sniper rifle as a nearby pickup to incentivize a brave sprint up top to nab the powerful long-range weapon.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/j4L-VeliToG0.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/L52qRJBwpWrc.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Battlefield 4 Outbreak temple"></p><h3>Ghost town party</h3><p> By far the most active area of Outbreak is C point, a ghost town of rickety shacks acting as the centerpoint of the map’s layout. Infantry stalemates are common as both teams often post up behind buildings lining the street dividing the town. Establishing a foothold takes work&mdash;the ease at which enemies can squeeze through a defensive line via the jungle makes sudden ambushes a frequent threat. Revive-happy medics and aggressive spawn beacon placement makes C point a very fluid objective, and it’s really cool dropping into the town from a transport chopper or thundering down the avenue in a tank to help teammates move up.</p><p> Once C is captured, the victorious team tends to barrel onto B or D points (the temple or a waterfront logging camp, respectively) en masse, as they’re both equidistant from C and is a natural stem from the town’s centrality. A good strategy is to break from the flock and fade into the thick canopy encircling C to set up a stealthy defense against sneaky recaptures after the main force moves on. Having that tactical flexibility exemplifies how truly challenging locking out the opposition from a point can get.</p><p> Some of the best moments from playing on Outbreak arise from witnessing the total destructibility of the town’s buildings over time. Having the power to level as many structures as possible was a popular request during the Community Map Project, and it shows best in the houses’ explosive transformation into shards of wood and metal littering the ground. High wall cover and corner alcoves turn into low, uneven protection emphasizing crouch- and prone-fire. Other capture points are just as fun to blow up: the logging camp brings slight verticality with its stilt-supported buildings while the eastward E point&mdash;a smoking palm oil plantation&mdash;has two massive tankers that carve away nearby warehouse doors with screen-shaking booms.</p><hr id="horizontal rule"> <p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> Build of the Week: RobCo Hoverbox is an ode to Fallouthttp://www.pcgamer.com/build-of-the-week-robco-hoverbox-is-an-ode-to-fallout/It doesn't talk in a robot voice with a 1930s accent, but it could certainly play some old timey radio hits. Or play Fallout 4.Mon, 09 Nov 2015 18:36:13 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/build-of-the-week-robco-hoverbox-is-an-ode-to-fallout/Build of the weekFallout 4Hardware Fallout 4 reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-review/Bigger and better andmore of the same.Mon, 09 Nov 2015 13:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4-review/Fallout 4ReviewsRPG <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Need To Know</h5> <p> <strong>What is it? </strong>A post-apocalyptic sandbox RPG.<br> <strong>Expect to pay </strong>£40/$60<br> <strong>Release </strong>10 November<br> <strong>Developer </strong>Bethesda Game Studios<br> <strong>Publisher </strong>Bethesda<br> <strong>Multiplayer </strong>None<br> <strong style="background-color: initial;">Link </strong><a href="http://www.fallout4.com/">Official site</a> </p> </div><p> Let me tell you about my Vault dweller. She's a master of stealth in flame red power armour. Protected by her hulking exoskeleton, she stomps quietly through buildings&mdash;efficiently dispatching her enemies with a sword or silenced pistol. Sometimes, the dozen or so raiders she's hunting will realise that something's amiss. They'll search the area, making threats about what they'll do should they find the lumbering behemoth crouched unseen in the corner. Occasionally she'll watch as they fail to notice how there's a mass of metal armour with a hot rod paint job right in front of their faces. Then she'll murder them with a single bullet to the head.</p><p> For me, this has been Fallout 4. It's a highly customisable RPG in a world that's packed full of things to do. Its systems are intricate, and invite you to tailor them to your liking. When you do, it can be wonderfully satisfying, but also&mdash;in the sense that you can be a huge stealth machine carrying an antique, irradiated sword&mdash;a little bit dumb. Fallout 4 wilfully trades immersion for an enjoyable, freeform sandbox of possibilities. Whether you'll enjoy it or not, I think, depends on your reaction to the description above. Does it sound like an infuriating, dissonant mess, or the cool, emergent intersection of player-driven decisions. I'm in the latter camp.</p><p> If you've played a Bethesda RPG before, this will be nothing new. As Fallout 3 was to Oblivion, so Fallout 4 is to Skyrim&mdash;the post-apocalypse of a futuristic world trapped in a '50s aesthetic, now available in Bethesda's Creation Engine and boasting some interesting new features. But for all the improvements, the moment to moment experience is broadly the same. Journeying to one of the many undiscovered locations in your vicinity, you'll kill enemies, pick locks, hack terminals, collect loot and experience a standalone vignette that weaves into the larger story of Boston after the bombs.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/d8PHvbE6S-G3.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/dQW1bPFIWiGp.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 2"></p><p> Fallout 4 is set in a condensed version of Massachusetts, known as the Commonwealth. Its map incorporates much of the state's east coast, from Salem to Boston itself&mdash;squished down like a Euro Truck Simulator 2 version of the end of the world. It opens on the day of Fallout's apocalypse&mdash;giving you the brief chance to experience life in the pastel-painted sanctuary of Sanctuary before it gets reduced down to rubble. This taste of the pre-apocalypse isn't all that revelatory. Unsurprisingly, the world was nicer when there weren't mutated dogs trying to eat your face off. But the opening speaks to the fact that Bethesda has tried to make a more memorable main campaign.</p><p>In fact, this is the best main story Bethesda has created. That's not a high bar to clear, but, for once, embarking on a main quest doesn't feel like a distraction. Your character leaves the Vault over 200 years after the apocalypse, in search of her (or his) kidnapped son. It's a simple, primal motivation, but one that's effective in leading you on a journey to the Commonwealth's main conflict: the appearance and distrust of human-like synths, and their connection to the mysterious Institute. The story succeeds because it ties in more closely to the side-plots that Bethesda has always been better at creating. The factions and companions you meet along the way are crucial to the overall plot. I had a lot of fun playing the factions off against each other, leading them inexorably to a dramatic finale.</p><p>Then, it ends. As world shifting as the events you enact potentially are, they're dampened by the abruptness of the conclusion. I should have expected this, of course&mdash;I played Skyrim&mdash;and perhaps it speaks to how much I was enjoying those final missions that their resolution left me feeling flat.</p><p>As always, then, the campaign is just the throughline for the many, many sidequests, miscellaneous events and unprompted acts of exploration you'll complete along the way. Bethesda's Fallout games are primarily about the atmosphere of the world at large, and Fallout 4 is no different. It's brutal and harrowing, but only up to a point. There's a lightheartedness that chips away at the tone, softening the death and decay. Fallout 4, like its predecessors, isn't a survival game&mdash;even though, initially at least, resources can be hard to come by.</p><p>Graphically, Fallout 4 looks like an improved version of Skyrim. Which is to say that it looks like an improved version of Fallout 3. That's mostly down to the tech powering it&mdash;even some of the NPC animations will be recognisable to anyone who's spent enough time in Tamriel. The faces are better, but still not perfect. The voice acting is much better, but still not perfect. Initially, I experienced the mild disappointment of familiarity. Four years after Skyrim, I was hoping for a more pronounced improvement. Now I wonder if I couldn't see the forest for the low resolution tree textures. The age and limitations of Bethesda's engine are well apparent, but the Commonwealth is enticing. On the macro level, Fallout 4's scale and detail creates a world that feels cohesive and full of perverse charm.</p><p>Boston is a great setting. It's denser than the Capital Wasteland of Fallout 3, and more colourful. There's a lot of grey and brown, sure, but also reds, blues and deadly, glowing greens. The locations, and the people who inhabit them, imbue the world with character. Diamond City, one of the main locales, is a town built in Boston's Fen stadium. As a collection of shacks and huts, it feels similar to Megaton&mdash;but more interesting, and more appropriate to the setting. Like New Vegas before it, Fallout 4 isn't about a post-apocalypse, but rather a post-apocalypse in a specific, recognisable place.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/lXFDQb15Rzuh.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gug_9Mg2QPdH.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 3"></p><p>Elsewhere, there's the Glowing Sea&mdash;a murky, barren expanse that still manages to be one of the most atmospheric places I've been to this year. A huge part of Fallout 4's appeal is the sense of discovery and mystery. Each location feels crafted, and that gives a powerful reason to investigate. Maybe you'll find a text logs that detail a conflict between rival gang leaders, or just a note explaining how to access a hidden stash of loot. The world feels lived in and dangerous, and it's fun to pick apart its history.</p><p>That said, I do wish it was a bit stranger&mdash;or even more playful. I'm in dangerous territory here, because there are so many sidequests that I haven't found or finished. For all I know, there's plenty of weird and unexpected encounters to discover. But I'm yet to find anything outside of the main quest that's as odd as Fallout 3's Vault full of Gary clones, or as dramatic as the decision to let a group of ghouls murder an apartment block full of rich jerks. I love the idea of the Vaults as weird social experiments, but of the three I've visited&mdash;my own character's included&mdash;none have delivered a compelling hook. One had a great idea behind it, but the delivery was underwhelming.</p><p>In general, there seems less scope to be a pantomime villain. I think part of the reason for this is that my character feels like a more fully formed person. It helps that she's fully voiced&mdash;every decision picked from the conversation wheel resulting in a sentence or two of spoken dialogue. There's still plenty of scope for imprinting your own whims onto the Vault dweller's personality, but it happens in a more strictly defined way. My character just didn't seem like she'd nuke a town full of people for a handful of caps. She's nice like that.</p><div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">Performance &amp; Settings</h5> <p> <strong>Reviewed on</strong> Intel Core i5-3570K, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 <br> <strong>Graphics options</strong>&nbsp;Texture quality, shadow quality, shadow distance, decal quality, lighting quality, godrays quality, depth of field, ambient occlusion, screen space reflections, wetness, rain occlusion, motion blur, lens flare and anisotropic filtering.<br> <strong>Anti-aliasing</strong> FXAA or TAA&nbsp;<br> <strong>Remappable controls</strong> Yes<br><br> Fallout 4 ran solidly&mdash;the Creation Engine's age and PC focus ensuring a wide range of customisable options ensuring solid stability. It was mostly bug free, and I only encountered a couple of mysterious crashes-to-desktop in over 50 hours of play.<br><br> Running on a beefy graphics card, it performed admirably on ultra&mdash;only&nbsp;occasionally&nbsp;dropping below 60fps while exploring outdoors. I mostly put this down to the fact that I was streaming the Starcraft 2 WCS final on a second screen at the time.<br><br> There are, however, plenty of loading screens to endure&mdash;particularly as you fast travel around the world. </p> </div><p> Having a voiced protagonist gave me a greater sense of attachment to the world, and particularly to the companions. This is the first Bethesda RPG where I've consistently had an NPC along for the ride. For once, they're much more than a mule to carry excess weapons. My second favourite companion, Nick Valentine, is an old school private eye&mdash;complete with trenchcoat and fedora. He inserts himself into conversations, and will stop and chat to other NPCs that he's previously helped. It's nice to get a sense, however small, that the world doesn't just exist for the Vault dweller to be in it.</p><p> My <em>favourite</em> companion is the dog, because it doesn't judge me when I steal all the telephones from a house. I have a lot of telephones in my pockets, as well as microscopes, alarm clocks and dinner trays. It's why I took to wearing power armour&mdash;so I could carry all the crap that I was collecting on my travels. If you love obsessively liberating a place of all its items, then good news: everything in Fallout 4 is useful. That's because of the new settlement system.</p><p> Settlements are Fallout 4's major new feature&mdash;like Skyrim's Hearthfire DLC, but massively expanded. Gain ownership of a settlement and you can construct new items, from water pumps and gun turrets, to prefabricated structures. Each has a resource cost associated with it. A wall panel simply requires wood and steel, but something like a defensive turret is more complex&mdash;the more deadly ones needing aluminium, circuitry, gears, fiber optics, and a generator for power. Open the crafting workshop in a settlement, and a green outline will show the area you're allowed to build in. Within this space, you can also scrap items for resources. That's fine for turning trees, cars and loose tires into wood, steel or rubber, but rarer resources must be found or purchased out in the world.</p><p>And so you collect junk. Every item in the game is made out of resources. Dump them into a settlement's workshop, and they can be turned into something useful. A typewriter becomes a useful source of gears, screws and springs&mdash;handy for building machinery that can defend your settlement from raiders.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/q1gfcL33Sdej.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Rk19RZ4B0O0k.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout New"></p><p>It's gratifying to watch an area turn from a run-down ghost town into a functioning settlement. Nevertheless, the workshop interface is a bit fiddly to use. Buildings are organised into categories, and it's a pain having to switch back and forth trying to remember if the radio beacon that attracts new settlers was in ‘Power &gt; Miscellaneous’ or ‘Resources &gt; Miscellaneous’. Worse still, your workshop's resource pool isn't global, but tied to each specific settlement. You might have enough oil to worry a flock of seagulls, but you can't build a generator in Tenpines Bluff if you left it all in Sanctuary Hills. At one point, I had to fast-travel between multiple different settlements just to remember where I'd left the pocket watch that contained the gear I needed to build a water pump. You can build supply lines that share resources between two connected workshops, but it's a clumsy system, and impractical unless you've already put in the&nbsp;work to grow a settlement's population.</p><p>You'll get a fair few settlements if you do missions for the Minutemen faction&mdash;a local militia group that's working to make the Commonwealth safe for decent, hard-working folk. It can become a bit overwhelming. Each settlement needs a number of resources: food, water and beds. The more you have in a settlement, the more defensive structures you'll need to protect it. Occasionally, you'll get alerts to defend these places. A few of my settlements were wiped out, either because I was too busy having fun adventures against super mutants or just didn't see the mission prompt that alerted me to their danger.</p><p>Guns have a crafting system, too&mdash;letting you create mods that alter their scopes, barrels, grips and attachments in a variety of ways. This, to me, felt like a much better use for my growing collection of minutia. Guns are the best thing about Fallout 4. Unlike its predecessors, it's an accomplished and enjoyable shooter. While my preference was for silenced weapons, the scarcity of ammo&mdash;at least for the first couple of dozen hours&mdash;forced me to experiment. I didn't mind. Getting into firefights is a joy, to the point that, by the end, I'd all but entirely abandoned the VATS system.</p><p>Early weapons picked off of raiders are relatively weak, but, as you journey through the Commonwealth you're guaranteed to find a collection of favourites. Early on, you get access to a laser musket&mdash;a powerful rifle that needs to be cranked between each shot. Using it feels tense and frantic, requiring you to dive into cover to hammer the R key, before popping out and taking your shot. With mods, you can imbue a musket with up to six charges. It's a deadly thing, if you've got the space to fully load it.</p><p>The best guns and armour are scavenged off of legendary enemies, identifiable by the star next to their name. When downed, they'll drop a legendary item with a special benefit. I've got a Tommy gun that fires exploding bullets, a dual-barrel shotgun that never needs reloading, a chest piece that turns me invisible when crouched and not moving, and, of course, an irradiated sword. I can't bear to part with any of these. I'd sooner throw away my precious telephones.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/gxAnc_eVTiyi.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/9opTko0nfMpf.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Fallout 8"></p><p>One effect of Fallout 4's immediate familiarity is that I'm more conscious than ever of the flaws of the engine. I haven't experienced many bugs, but there are lots of quirks. AI NPCs, for examples, like to run off at inopportune moments in response to some faraway threat that they've decided to deal with. In one instance, a pair did this during a forced scripted sequence&mdash;leaving me stranded and unable to move. With so many systems working to create interesting, emergent experiences, sometimes things break down.</p><p>As a whole, though, it's a loving production. It's filled with care and attention to detail&mdash;like the expanded set of radio stations, or the way flash radiation storms bathe the world in a sickly, ominous green hue. It's a pleasure to pick through the world, to discover new sights, and to pick through the perks and customisation option to conceive the perfect character build, however bizarre. In short, many of Fallout 4's problems, like every Bethesda RPG before it, are a consequence of what makes them unforgettable. That might not be the neatest conclusion, but it explains why, 50 hours in, I'm still having fun. It also explains why, now that I've finished this review, I'm going to play it for many hours more.</p> Galak-Z reviewhttp://www.pcgamer.com/galak-z-the-dimensional-review/A space shooter roguelike with a neat Saturday morning kids' show theme.Mon, 09 Nov 2015 12:10:43 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/galak-z-the-dimensional-review/Galak-ZReviews <div class="fancy-box"><h5 class="title">Need To Know</h5><p><strong>What is it:</strong> A stylish, intelligent shooter with permadeath<strong>.<br>Publisher: </strong>17-Bit Studios<br> <strong>Developer: </strong>In-house<br> <strong>Reviewed on: </strong>i5-3230 CPU, 8GM RAM<br> <strong>Expect To Pay:</strong> £14.99 / $19.99<br><strong>Link: </strong><a href="http://17-bit.com/galakz">Official Website</a></p></div><p>I got cocky. I’d reached the objective marker, but found myself ambushed by an enemy fleet. Too many to take on in such an enclosed space, I opted for flight over fight, hoping to either lose them en route to the extraction point, or isolate them and pick them off one by one. Weaving through a labyrinth of tunnels, I passed by a spider’s lure of space junk, wheeling away a split-second before it lurched forward and grabbed one of my pursuers. I blasted a bulbous plant which released electrically-charged pollen into the path of another, obliterating his shields just in time for him to see a missile salvo arc toward his cockpit. Laughing, I boosted clear&hellip;and straight into the hungry grasp of a giant space bug. I died less than a screen’s width away from the exit.</p><p>Galak-Z is great when things are going right, but it’s brilliant when they’re going wrong&mdash;and there are plenty of ways for that to happen. On one occasion I decided to take things slowly, methodically advancing through a maze-like interior, staying beyond the sight cones of patrolling craft where possible, and luring lone ships into devious traps. Having amassed a tidy haul of scrap, I meandered toward the exit, only to be struck by a jet of flame that had burst forth from a hole in a pipe. Startled, I panicked, shooting a gas tank which whirled around madly before settling on a trajectory that saw it smash into my cockpit and explode, removing my final sliver of health.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WG0pvFlUTCii.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/otP1XRLvcf3y.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Galak1"></p><p>So yes, this sci-fi roguelike has rightly earned its fearsome reputation. You will perish, and often, which will reset you to the beginning of that 'season' of levels. I won’t lie and claim failure isn’t frustrating, because it obviously is. But win or lose, you’ll have a wonderful time doing so. It may not always be scrupulously fair, but then it wouldn’t be a roguelike without an element of fortune involved. And, if only occasionally, it can and will fall in your favour. </p><p>Luck comes a very distant second to skill, though. Galak-Z might have a steep learning curve, but it’s a reminder that mastering an unorthodox control system can be a hugely enjoyable challenge. At its simplest level, it’s like Asteroids, in that you rotate to aim and thrust to move in that direction&mdash;but it’s far more nuanced, giving you a finer degree of control over your ship’s momentum. This is a setup that has clearly been laboured over, tested and retested, tweaked and tightened to something approaching perfection. At times I wondered if I would have preferred a touch more manoeuvrability at the cost of weight, but upon consideration I’m happy with the balance: with maximum thrust speed, your ship is on the brink of feeling skittish. If the odds can at times seem unfair, you’re given the tools to get out of even the stickiest situation, whether you’re strafing, boosting, or even applying your rear jets and reversing out of harm’s way. </p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/zyLroGJAS5aJ.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/G6iZl1hInOmR.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Galak4"></p><p>Then there’s the juke, which sees your ship spin out of the screen and dive back in. It’s a showboater’s dream move, designed to encourage dangerous play&mdash;like boosting towards an enemy, lifting off at the last second to land behind your opponent, and swivelling to unleash a barrage into its rear. Worth the risk? Undoubtedly, though the screeching insectoids, powerful empire fleets and snarling raiders you’ll face are not to be underestimated. They’re often unusually smart, yet capable of errors in judgement&mdash;with clever positioning you can get a larger craft to blast its diminutive allies before they race off to call backup, or get two factions to fight one another, distracting them long enough to peel away to safety. </p><p>And if the 25 randomly generated missions are all, broadly speaking, salvage quests, Galak-Z works hard to contextualise your adventures. It takes place over five of the aforementioned TV show-style 'seasons', with five episodes in each. It looks and sounds for all the world like a great lost Saturday morning cartoon from the ‘80s - a delightful touch sees each journey begin with a new episode title and writer credit&mdash;and while the overarching plot won’t win any awards, the script is light and witty and the performances are terrific&mdash;likeable protagonist A-Tak and his officer Beam share a warm rapport. There’s even something moving about the game over screen, which shows an empty helmet with a cracked visor floating by, a surprisingly brutal reminder of the stakes.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/g3PrhcQDS96T.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/hxQkOE1Y8vAu.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Galak6"></p><p>Not that you’ll need any further motivation to hit restart. Much as it stings to lose a ship equipped with half a dozen permanent perks, a tighter muzzle combined with three-way fire and bouncing bullets, there are enough thrilling discoveries to dull the pain&mdash;indeed, by the beginning of the second season you’ll have a whole new series of combat techniques to learn, though it’d be remiss of me to reveal why. Its final surprise for PC owners is a mode that unlocks checkpoints after every episode rather than forcing you to survive an entire season with just one life. Reaching the end may still be beyond some players, but putting the bountiful rewards of Galak-Z within the reach of many more budding space cadets can only be a good thing.</p> Heroes of the Storm interview: maps, modes, and two-player heroeshttp://www.pcgamer.com/heroes-of-the-storm-interview-maps-modes-and-two-player-heroes/The story of the April Fools joke that became a game feature.Sun, 08 Nov 2015 19:27:25 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/heroes-of-the-storm-interview-maps-modes-and-two-player-heroes/BlizzconHeroes of the StormMOBAPro <p><br> <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CSTvLd_vqOo" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe></p><p>During BlizzCon I sat down with Heroes of the Storm game director Dustin Browder and senior artist Phill Gonzales to discuss Arena mode, the new map, and the convoluted process that led to the creation of a <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/heroes-of-the-storms-chogall-is-the-strangest-moba-experience-ive-had/">two-player MOBA hero</a>. Plus! Fleshing out the Nexus universe, what happens if Abathur clones Cho'gall, and more.</p> Five great plays from the Heroes of the Storm World Championshiphttp://www.pcgamer.com/five-great-plays-from-the-heroes-of-the-storm-world-championship/Clutch escapes, surprise murlocs, and team-wide mindgames.Sun, 08 Nov 2015 19:04:12 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/five-great-plays-from-the-heroes-of-the-storm-world-championship/BlizzconHeroes of the StormMOBAPro <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/-HtdSEYbR2WN.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/TDuYLqS6hzT2.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="HOTS Highlights Header"> </p> <p> Cloud9 are making quite the name for themselves in Heroes of the Storm. The team started as one half of the game's greatest rivalry and went on to become <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/five-outstanding-moments-from-the-heroes-of-the-storm-americas-championship/">its first American champions</a>. Yesterday they went global, becoming the first Heroes of the Storm World Champions in a clean sweep against Team Dignitas. If you missed out on any of the action (perhaps because you were watching that world-class StarCraft final) then read on to skip to the good bits. </p> <h3> Tempo Storm will not be denied: Tempo Storm vs. Brave Heart</h3> <iframe src="http://gfycat.com/ifr/FrequentUnselfishAmericanbittern" scrolling="no" style="-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;-webkit-transform: scale(1);" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"> </iframe> <p> <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2jJkkYRo1A">Watch the entire match here.</a> </p> <p> After narrowly avoiding heavy losses in a bad team fight most professional teams would regroup. Tempo Storm, on the other hand, used just that kind of "opportunity" to take major objectives in every lane on Dragon Shire. </p> <p> Their opponents, Brave Heart, responded in kind. They sent Kael'thas to deal with the cheeky sneaks as they attempted to summon the devastating Dragon Knight at the center of the map. Kael, in turn, sent his auto-targeting ultimate, Phoenix, to cancel the ritual. </p> <p> Not only would the Phoenix have delayed Tempo, it would have stopped them from trying again long enough to take the objective themselves. It would have, except that either by dumb luck or superhuman timing Tempo finished their summoning less than a second before the fiery featherbrain could make contact. </p> <h3>Baited out of a base race: Team YL vs. Team Dignitas</h3> <iframe src="http://gfycat.com/ifr/EqualTenseBustard" scrolling="no" style="-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;-webkit-transform: scale(1);" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"> </iframe> <p> <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRR_-xdqsWI">Watch the entire match here.</a> </p> <p> After a hard-won comeback Team Dignitas was on Team YL's doorstep. YL, not ready to give up just yet, decided to put their faith in math. By going straight for their opponents' core they thought they could sneak in a quick victory without anyone noticing. </p> <p> Well, Dignitas did notice, and began to teleport home to defend. At least that's what it looked like. As soon as Team YL responded in kind Dignitas cancelled their retreat and dove straight for the now-clustered team. With their own home clear, Dignitas was free to demolish both YL and their core without a care. </p> <h3>Murky's first kill: Cloud9 vs. Team DK</h3> <iframe src="http://gfycat.com/ifr/AcidicFondDeer" scrolling="no" style="-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;-webkit-transform: scale(1);" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"> </iframe> <p> <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroes/v/24505170?t=05h04m57s">Watch the entire match here.</a> </p> <p> Only one team was willing to give the people what they truly wanted at the Heroes of the Storm World Championship. That team was Cloud9, and what they gave us was Murky. </p> <p> The murloc with the most had seen zero play before the squad's match against Team DK. That's probably because of his incredible fragility, and very specific usefulness. Regardless, it was fun to witness his first-ever appearance in a championship match firsthand. </p> <p> The results were shockingly positive, too. With Abathur's long-range armor and damage support he wasn't as fragile as you'd think. This was exemplified during his first kill. The puny Pisces charged past all five of Team DK's players to catch a kill the rest of his team could not. </p> <h3>Falstad's great escape: Cloud9 vs. Team Dignitas</h3> <iframe src="http://gfycat.com/ifr/EnlightenedNearGrebe" scrolling="no" style="-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;-webkit-transform: scale(1);" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"> </iframe> <p> <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroes/v/24505170?t=06h41m35s">Watch the entire match here.</a> </p> <p> Falstad, Heroes of the Storm's own flying dwarf, is a fantastic fighter. Luckily for Cloud9 his griffin mount makes him just as equally skilled at retreat. </p> <p> Cloud9 thought they could make use of his first skill set on a long and ill-conceived chase into enemy territory. They didn't get the kill they were seeking, but they did find the rest of Team Dignitas just outside of their base. </p> <p> Realizing their mistake, Cloud9 tried to send the overzealous aviator home. That's where his second skill came in. Without a second to lose, Falstad flung back the way he'd come with his signature barrel roll. Not to mention one, last enemy projectile in tow. He was left with a sliver of health, and Dignitas was left with the first in a long line of missed opportunities. </p> <h3>Divide, conquer, and retreat: Cloud9 vs. Team Dignitas</h3> <iframe src="http://gfycat.com/ifr/BlushingEmbarrassedBluewhale" scrolling="no" style="-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;-webkit-transform: scale(1);" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"> </iframe> <p> <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroes/v/24505170?t=07h24m25s">Watch the entire match here.</a> </p> <p> Cloud9 may be a championship team, but that doesn't mean they always stick together. That independence worked in their favor during their second game against Team Dignitas. </p> <p> Dignitas was just one captured point away from a curse that would cripple Cloud9's defenses at the time. Rather than simply stall them, Cloud9 decided to take their prize completely. They sent Tassadar into what one commentator called "the den of the lion." That is, deep into enemy territory. </p> <p> Two-fifths of Dignitas peeled off to pursue the support. They didn't realize that this left the control point, and their upcoming curse, up to a three-on-four fight. Cloud9 took the objective from them without issue. Dignitas' consolation prize, Tassadar, then managed to escape too. </p> <hr id="horizontal rule"> <p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF! </p> Hearthstone World Championship: Day two's talking pointshttp://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-world-championships-day-twos-talking-points/The best man won according to our pro player.Sun, 08 Nov 2015 18:06:40 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-world-championships-day-twos-talking-points/BlizzardBlizzconCard GameesportsHearthstonePro <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Or5kEk1vQ52u.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/x0By7VYFwHBg.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Hearthstone World Championships 2015"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">will 'modernleper' bindloss</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RJmtcKn_TO-K.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EzqIwU8x9ur8.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="William 'Modern Leper' Blindloss"> </p> <p> Will is a professional Hearthstone player on the&nbsp;ManaLight team and&nbsp;recently finished&nbsp;3rd/4th at Dreamhack Cluj. He also loves to write about the game, having contributed several articles to <a href="http://teamarchon.com/">Team Archon’s site</a>. You can find him on Twitch <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/modernleper">here</a> and on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ML_modernleper">here</a>. </p> </div><p> High level games of Hearthstone can feature both remarkable demonstrations of smart decision-making, as well as brutal, crushing, randomness. Both ends of the spectrum were on display in the final day of the Hearthstone World Championship at Blizzcon, which saw over 140,000 viewers watching on the main Twitch stream.</p><p> The pick of the day’s action was the semi-final between Thijs and Ostkaka&mdash;a tense, drawn-out slugfest between two of the absolute best players in the game, with a number of stunning plays and next-level reads. The other semi-final, Hotform versus Kno, was a far less cerebral affair, with quite a few questionable plays and a ton of game-deciding RNG.</p><p> The final, between&mdash;spoiler alert&mdash;Ostkaka and Hotform, was a 3-0 stomp in Ostkaka’s favour. We <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstones-new-world-champion-the-sickest-series-ive-ever-played/">spoke with the winner</a> to get his thoughts afterwards, but with such a one-sided scoreline it’s tempting to think Ostkaka is simply the far superior player. In reality the draws were the biggest factor in this climactic series.</p><p> What’s beyond doubt is that the final day provided compelling viewing for every level of Hearthstone fan. These were the big talking points...</p><h4>Possible mistake by Thijs lets Loatheb swing the game</h4><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/W62pWehylJQ?start=1860" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> Game two of the first semi-final was a real nail-biter, with Ostkaka’s Oil Rogue matching up vs the Freeze Mage of Thijs. Most pros would tell you that a good Freeze Mage player has the edge in this matchup, but there is certainly potential for Oil Rogue to steal a win. In order for that to happen, Loatheb&mdash;a <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-the-20-best-legendary-cards/">legendary card</a> that inflates the cost of your opponent’s spells for a turn&mdash;often plays a key role.</p><p> Ostkaka ended up taking the win, and in doing so got to make the rather flashy play of casting Eviscerate to kill his own minion in order to make space for Loatheb on the board. The really brilliant aspect of Ostkaka’s play this game was the way he positioned his minions perfectly to play around the Cone of Cold spell, which sat impotently in Thijs’ hand.</p><p> It’s arguable, however, that Thijs should have won this game. On turn nine, he had to decide whether to Flamestrike a full Oil Rogue board, leaving a 9/4 Edwin Vancleef on board, or to stall a turn with his second Frost Nova and set up a complete board clear Flamestrike for the next turn. He chose the second option, which the casters applauded, but it ultimately ended up costing him the game because Frost Nova is an absolutely essential card for reacting to a Loatheb, which Thijs had not yet seen Ostkaka play. When the Loatheb did hit the board, it was devastating.</p><h4>Self-harm demonstrates Ostkaka’s Freeze Mage mastery</h4><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/W62pWehylJQ?start=6283" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> I have to start with the disclaimer that this play was largely inconsequential, as the game was long since decided by the time it took place. But for a player who admits that when he plays on stage he mostly relies on “instinct”, the awareness and presence of mind that goes into making a play like this&mdash;even when it doesn't matter&mdash;is extraordinary.</p><p> Some explanation&mdash;Ostkaka knows Thijs has Fireball and Frostbolt in hand, and that he is able to put him down to 1 health, which means the fatigue damage (the penalty for having run out of cards) will kill Ostkaka on his own turn. Since Ice Block, a secret, does not trigger on a player’s own turn, this means a certain loss for Ostkaka. The only way for him to survive another turn is to hero power his own face, pushing his health going down to 9, so that Thijs no longer has a way to leave him at 1 and let fatigue finish the job.</p><p> At this point in the game the play was irrelevant to the outcome, but it still perfectly encapsulates the level of awareness and thinking ahead that goes into a Freeze Mage mirror match. I seriously recommend you watch the whole game&mdash;it’s brilliant.</p><h4>RNG reigns supreme in Hotform vs Kno</h4><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Is612RtG0jM?start=1573" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> The most memorable exchange in the second semi-final is one that captures the more frustrating side of the game. Here, we see Kno use Equality to change the life of all minions to 1, making Hotform’s Dr. Boom easy to remove, before utilising the Silence effect of Ironbeak Owl to reverse the change on his own Dr. Boom. He then plays Piloted Shredder, creating what looks like an impossible board for Hotform’s Tempo Mage to handle.</p><p> Then, Hotform plays two Flamewakers, a topdecked Arcane Missiles and Mirror Image to generate 11 missiles that have equal likelihood of hitting all enemy characters&mdash;including the opposing hero. Seven of them hit the Dr. Boom, killing it. Kno’s odds were pretty good here, since if the Shredder either survives, or spawns a 2-attack minion, and the Boom lives (which is overwhelmingly likely) he can punch through the Mirror Images and connect twice with his Truesilver Champion weapon for lethal over two turns. But instead he was punished hard by an unlikely outcome, and the game was decided. Hearthstone can be so cruel.</p><h4>An anticlimactic final, but Ostkaka a deserving champion</h4><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7a16aKgKi_o?start=2520" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> Far too often in Hearthstone, series are decided not by player skill, but by draws, pick order or in-game RNG. The final fell firmly into that category, as Ostkaka swept Hotform 3-0 in the final without really having to make too many important decisions. In the first game, Ostkaka’s Freeze Mage drew well and cruised through a favoured matchup against Hotform’s Tempo Mage. In game two, Hotform secured the board but couldn’t find any healing, and the game was decided by Grommash Hellscream arriving right on time for Ostkaka. For game three, Hotform was forced into sub-optimal plays as his hand was weighed down with too many 7-cost minions. Both players played fine but the casters struggled for points of interest. A repeat of the fireworks in Thijs vs Ostkaka this was not.</p><p> But as someone who knows Ostkaka personally, I can’t help but be happy. This is a guy who worked unbelievably hard to finish in the top 10 of legend every season, as he couldn’t rely on WCS points earned from invitational tournaments. He’s an astonishingly consistent player, who’s most impressive trait isn’t even the ability to make next-level plays like the ping on his own face in the Freeze Mage mirror. No, the new World Champion’s biggest strength is his phenomenal consistency and ability to do the simple stuff well. He’s equally brilliant at playing to every potential ‘out’ when he is losing as he is locking opponent’s out when he’s ahead. Ostkaka is hugely respected among the pros, and his Twitter feed will be full of congratulations from his peers.</p><p> As with Firebat last year, the best player in the world has become the World Champion. In a game so often criticised for its randomness, that really is something to be celebrated.</p><p><em>The talking points from day one can be found</em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-world-championships-day-ones-big-talking-points/">here</a><em>.</em></p><hr id="horizontal rule"><p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> Our Warcraft trailer analysishttp://www.pcgamer.com/our-warcraft-trailer-analysis/Further thoughts after picking apart the full Warcraft movie trailer.Sun, 08 Nov 2015 17:12:37 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/our-warcraft-trailer-analysis/BlizzardBlizzconMust ReadwarcraftWorld of Warcraft <p>The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-warcraft-film-trailer-is-finally-here/">first official trailer</a> for the Warcraft movie screened Friday at Blizzcon, bringing two minutes' worth of footage as opposed to the smattering of broken images we saw earlier in the week. And yet, having had a few hours to think it over, I find that my <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/we-analysed-the-warcraft-movie-teaser-in-absurd-detail-and-are-now-hyped/">impressions </a>from my initial analysis remain the same. Much of the trailer shows that pairing CGI characters with real ones remains an iffy prospect, but after repeated viewings, I find that my inner Warcraft nerd is still thumping my inner cynic into silence.</p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/2Rxoz13Bthc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>I can't help but admire how thoroughly director Duncan Jones seems to embrace the Warcraft universe. This is a man who appears to know how many millions of people of different backgrounds have interacted with the Warcraft universe in some way over the last two decades, and it seemingly emboldens him to put any cares on the backburner. The trailer indicates that he doesn't care how many of you haven't played the strategy games, the MMORPG, the collectible card game, or Hearthstone &mdash; there are plenty of us who have.</p><p>The Westfall harvest golem spotted in the original trailer hinted at that devotion to the players, but the full-length trailer shows it extending right down to the design of the robes of Dalaran mages and what looks to be the narrow path leading into the Burning Steppes. The shot of Dalaran flying in the sky as it did at the height of World of Warcraft's subscriber numbers in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion shows a further desire to appeal to those millions. The trailer even throws in Paula Patton as the half-orc Garona without even caring to gives hints as to why she looks so much more human&mdash;indeed, not CGI at all&mdash;than the other orc woman in the trailer. We're expected to know who this is, and many of us do.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/UEZFrH5qRee2.png" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HitDOD2qYjA0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Wow4"></p><p>All this is to say that this is Warcraft, right down to massive shoulderpads with skulls perched on Hulk-sized orcs and a jaggedy cathedral that clings so close to the original aesthetic that it looks like it could have been pulled from a Warcraft III map. Blizzard itself has created numerous, fantastic CGI trailers over the year that usually grasp at some degree of "realism," but Jones' movie isn't afraid to embrace the franchise's thousands of little absurdities and contradictions. Without them, it wouldn't exactly have been Warcraft or, more importantly, what we consider Warcraft now. Close, perhaps, but no lok'tar.</p><p>Legendary Pictures and Blizzard probably did themselves a disservice by releasing the Warcraft trailer on the same day we saw the widely acclaimed Blizzard-made trailer for World of Warcraft: Legion. Focusing almost entirely on the human king Varian Wrynn, it invites comparisons to the look of the real-life humans in the Warcraft trailer. The latter, in many eyes, comes up short by comparison. There's a strong current of opinion out there claiming the feature film would have thus been better if it had been entirely CGI instead of split with real humans, but I don't agree. It's an admirable goal, but considering the cost involved and the usual troubles with making humans look good in CGI, we probably would have ended up with something like Beowulf at best.</p><p>The worst offences of the Warcraft trailer show up in the moments when we see humans and orcs onscreen together, and for the moment I'm hoping that much of what we see in the trailer represents an advanced rough draft. The trailer itself shows that Legendary can avoid sloppy work when it tries. I mean, look at this shot of Orgrim Doomhammer.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WhxMjYyDQhyE.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6fQatvxH9A-6.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Wow3"></p><p>He's beautiful. He looks real. I feel as though I could flick a dime off those biceps.</p><p>I also see another hint of that tendency in a close-up of Durotan. It's certainly not Smaug in The Hobbit, but it's better than some of the orcs Jackson himself cooked up in the trilogy.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/mfPujshdRcqR.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/3jNHe4eduz0p.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Wow2"></p><p>It's the other stuff that's jarring, such as Shrek-y looking baby Thrall, or the way that Durotan looks like he's some sort of Force projection in the shot with the canyon meeting. Yes, that looks properly crappy, as do some of the Stormwind crowd shots&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/we-analysed-the-warcraft-movie-teaser-in-absurd-detail-and-are-now-hyped/">I pointed out in my first analysis</a>.</p><p>They've got almost a year for this, though, and the relatively still shots of some of the orcs give me hope that they can fix it.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Py3s8u0qStCt.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/a7_mCOpOqwQe.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Wow1"></p><p>As for the humans? The film needs 'em, even if I can't help thinking that I just saw Ragnar Lothbrok say something pithy to Æthelstan when I see actor&nbsp;Travis Fimmel smile. That's what draws in the folks who aren't as invested in the Warcraft universe, and I believe Beowulf proved that voice acting from famous actors isn't enough to pull in crowds alone.</p><p>I'm more worried that the story will be kind of hokey in action, even if the Warcraft tales are all good by video game standards. I must confess that seeing little Thrall being placed in a floating basket in the river made me cringe a bit. It's too heavy-handed of a reference to Moses, and it looks almost like an orcish production of 1956's The Ten Commandments.</p><p>I worry that this will carry over into other things, especially since the story seemed geared toward drawing us toward parallels with the orcs' plight and illegal immigration in the United States and the refugee crisis in Europe.</p><p>But of course I'm going to see it anyway, just like I'm going to play the next World of Warcraft expansion. This is Warcraft, and I don't think anyone should go in expecting The Pianist. Big, dumb action and a silly plot mixed with some CGI worked well enough for The Avengers, and I see no reason why what we've seen in Legendary's trailer won't deliver at least half of that.&nbsp;</p> Mod lets you explore Alien: Isolation—without that pesky alienhttp://www.pcgamer.com/best-PC-mods-15-11-8/The most promising mods we've seen this week.Sun, 08 Nov 2015 15:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/best-PC-mods-15-11-8/Alien: IsolationCrusader Kings 2GTA 5Mod of the WeekMod RoundupModsThe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/I4RmsCqJRh-8.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/7rL0PO3WIZpP.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Alien Isolation 7K"></p><p>In this week's Mod&nbsp;Roundup,&nbsp;the Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2 gets its v1.0 release and a&nbsp;GTA 5 mod lets you buy additional houses and rent hotel rooms in Los Santos. You can also explore the fantastic environments of Alien: Isolation&mdash;without that damn determined alien chasing you around&mdash;and begin a new life in Skyrim as a skooma addict or traveling merchant.</p><p>Here are the most promising&nbsp;mods we've seen this week.</p><h2>&nbsp;A Game of Thrones, for Crusader Kings 2</h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/_Z8bPkhiQseU.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6w5E_5ih8UGU.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Thrones"></p><p>One of the best full-conversion&nbsp;mods of all time is even better. The Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2, which transforms Europe into George R. R. Martin's&nbsp;Westeros, has released version 1.0. It's been a while since I've played it, but there are lots of improvements in the latest version&nbsp;that make me want to dive back in.&nbsp;<a href="http://citadel.prophpbb.com/topic9874.html">You can download it here</a>.</p><h2>No Alien, in&nbsp;Alien: Isolation</h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/b2Gf_byXQ12k.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/HOer8hdSwI5z.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Alien Isolation 7K"></p><p>Obviously, this isn't meant to be a true alternative way to play the horror game, but instead&nbsp;a way to explore Sevastopol and take in all the incredible details of the environment at your leisure and without fear of being horribly impaled by the dreaded&nbsp;Xenomorph's tail. Chances are, you missed something while you were busy creeping, hiding, and dying the first time through.&nbsp;<a href="http://steamcommunity.com/app/214490/discussions/0/620695877286051362/">Details and download here</a>.</p><h2>New Beginnings, for Skyrim</h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/GIBFLjaxSOOu.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/knjPJzk9suz3.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Sky"></p><p>There's a great mod for Skyrim&nbsp;called&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/9557/?">Alternate Start</a>, that lets you skip the opening sequence at Helgen and&nbsp;begin a new game as a homeowner, a guild member, someone living at an inn, a bandit living in the wilds, and so on. In other words, it gives you the chance to play as a simple&nbsp;citizen of the world instead of the fabled Dragonborn. New Beginnings expands on that, letting you start the game&nbsp;as a lowly&nbsp;skooma addict, a beggar, a traveling merchant,&nbsp;a prisoner in the jail of your choice, a vampire who was recently laid to rest, and others.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/70959/?">You can find it here</a>.</p><h2>The Savehouse Mod, for GTA 5</h2><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/0kZdQYk3SfWj.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Zjr6PeW2mzjd.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Gta"></p><p>We know Michael, Franklin, and&nbsp;Trevor each have their own home in GTA 5, but why stop there? Let your millionaires buy a whole bunch of&nbsp;houses around Los Santos to serve as alternate save points and hideouts. This mod also allows you to rent rooms at hotels and create other savepoints around town.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.gta5-mods.com/scripts/the-savehouse-mod-houses-hotels-and-apartments-lua">You'll find it here</a>.</p> Overwatch interview: beta results, balance changes, and payment model planshttp://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch-interview-beta-results-balance-changes-and-payment-model-plans/We spoke to Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan and Creative Director Chris Metzen at BlizzCon 2015.Sun, 08 Nov 2015 14:11:11 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch-interview-beta-results-balance-changes-and-payment-model-plans/Blizzard EntertainmentBlizzconFPSinterviewOverwatchPro <iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/sAHaQxUsf_A" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/blizzcon" target="_blank">BlizzCon</a> brought a whole lot of news for the latest addition to Blizzard's line-up,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch/" target="_blank">Overwatch</a>. We learned a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch-will-release-in-june-2016-leaked-poster-reveals/" target="_blank">release date</a>, a price (meaning we also learned it&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch-will-not-be-free-to-play-blizzard-confirms/" target="_blank">won't be free to play</a>), saw a new map and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatchs-new-characters-are-the-missing-pieces-of-the-puzzle/" target="_blank">three new heroes</a>, and much more about the story and universe. I sat down with Game Director Jeff Kaplan and Creative Director Chris Metzen to discuss how the beta's been going so far, why they went with this payment model, what&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch-director-not-sure-how-and-when-new-heroes-will-be-added/" target="_blank">future content</a> might look like, and much more. Watch the video above to see our full conversation.&nbsp;</p> Hearthstone’s new World Champion: "the sickest series I've ever played"http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstones-new-world-champion-the-sickest-series-ive-ever-played/Ostkaka speaks straight after sweeping Hotform 3-0 in the finals.Sun, 08 Nov 2015 01:19:57 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstones-new-world-champion-the-sickest-series-ive-ever-played/BlizzconCard GameHearthstonePro <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/PWDFBUILVOs" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" width="500"></iframe><p>The shiny confetti had barely settled on the BlizzCon stage when we managed to grab the newly-crowned World Champion for a chat. Sweden’s Sebastian <a href="https://twitter.com/naviostkaka">“Ostkaka”</a> Engwall has long been one of the most respected players on the competitive scene, but only joined a pro team in September when he was one of the players chosen to be part of <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/navi-makes-its-move-into-hearthstone/">Na’Vi’s entrance</a> into Hearthstone. How pleased they must be with that pick now.</p><p>At the time I wrote: “Ostkaka is very much seen as one to watch, and is a proficient ladder warrior”, but was “&hellip; yet to have his breakout tournament performance.” That performance certainly arrived today. Ostkaka played immaculately throughout the finals, keeping his nerve to close out an <a href="https://twitter.com/NaViOstkaka/status/663105140388294656">incredible series</a> in the semi-finals after Thijs had made a comeback from 2-0 to 2-2. The final match against Canada’s hero Hotform was more of a stomp, with Ostkaka’s deck choices proving dominant and the final Rogue vs Druid match looking particularly brutal. </p><p>The 3-0 scoreline by which Ostakaka won actually mirrors last year’s result, which saw Firebat sweep Tiddler Celestial. Firebat was also a respected player who until that point hadn’t won a major, and Ostkaka can now expect a similarly explosive rise in attention and popularity among the fans who watched the World Championships in droves. (Concurrent viewers on Twitch was hovering over 150k throughout the day.) As for what he’s going to do with the $100,000 prize money, Ostkaka says he doesn’t know yet. One thing’s for sure: He won’t have to worry about saving gold for next week’s <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstones-league-of-explorers-is-indiana-jones-remade-with-a-posh-murloc/">League of Explorers expansion</a>.</p><p>We’ll have full match highlights for you tomorrow here on <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a>, but for now enjoy the interview with&nbsp;Ostkaka. And hey,&nbsp;who says the best player doesn’t win in Hearthstone?</p> Hearthstone World Championships: Day one's big talking pointshttp://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-world-championships-day-ones-big-talking-points/...Thijs is the clear favorite, but has our expert spotted a crack?Sat, 07 Nov 2015 17:53:01 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-world-championships-day-ones-big-talking-points/BlizzconCard GameesportsHearthstonePro <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uOmKQ2Q5Sras.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Q1Jt4Ee88ipK.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Hearthstone BlizzCon 2015" style="background-color: initial;"></p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">will 'modern leper' bindloss</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/RJmtcKn_TO-K.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EzqIwU8x9ur8.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="William 'Modern Leper' Blindloss"> </p> <p> Will is a professional Hearthstone player on the&nbsp;ManaLight team and&nbsp;recently finished&nbsp;3rd/4th at Dreamhack Cluj. He also loves to write about the game, having contributed several articles to <a href="http://teamarchon.com/">Team Archon’s site</a>. You can find him on Twitch <a href="http://www.twitch.tv/modernleper">here</a> and on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ML_modernleper">here</a>. </p> </div><p> It can be difficult to fully grasp the significance of the Hearthstone World Championships at BlizzCon. The cheery hosts, relaxed atmosphere and tavern-style decor do little to suggest that this is anything other than a fun tournament for a casual game.</p><p> But the eight players who started the Finals only arrived here after grinding the ladder for countless hours to rack up WCS points, and then navigated online and offline regional qualifiers just to make it to the round of 16. From there, they had to emerge from four-man group stages featuring some of the biggest names in competitive Hearthstone. Lifecoach, Purple and Neirea&mdash;massive names in the competitive Hearthstone scene&mdash;all fell at this hurdle.</p><p> The stakes are high before you even factor in the $100,000 the winner stands to receive. Each player knows how lucky he is to be there, and how arbitrarily it could be snatched away. Everyone has prepared meticulously, and their nerves will all be on edge. With the scene set, here are the biggest talking points from the first day’s games&hellip;</p><h4>Clash of approaches between Thijs and Kranich</h4><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/QfiDjyeyzjk?start=4378" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> Looking at the two deck lineups, Thijs became even more favoured. He elected to take Dragon Priest, Patron Warrior and Freeze Mage to the tournament&mdash;three decks that excel at shutting out aggressive strategies. Kranich, by contrast, took Warlock Zoo, Midrange Hunter and Double Combo Druid. On paper, this could hardly have been better for Thijs. Zoo and Midrange Hunter&mdash;both aggressive decks&mdash;have unfavoured matchups vs all of Thijs’ decks, while Druid is considered the underdog versus both Dragon Priest and Patron Warrior. Druid is the favourite vs Freeze Mage, but this is the sole situation where one of Kranich’s decks could be considered to have the edge.The first series of the day was between G2’s Thijs and Team Dignitas’ Kranich. Thijs came into this match as the huge favourite. The Dutchman has been an all-conquering juggernaut recently, and sits on top of the GosuGamers world ranking by a clear 200 points of elo.</p><p> And yet it was close. Take a look at this crushing Zoo victory from Kranich in the video, in which Thijs just fails to draw any answers for the Korean’s aggression. The whole series represented a battle between proactivity and reactivity. Thijs had the better answers, but needed to draw them on cue, while Kranich had an abundance of threats with which to apply pressure. The series ended 3-2 in Thijs’ favour, but at the death Kranich was only one draw off winning. He didn’t hit the card he needed, but it’s extraordinary how close a contest this was despite the lineup disparity. Maybe Thijs isn’t such a sure-thing after all.</p><h4>The return of Shaman and Rogue</h4><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/gFXdyPVV5I0?start=3906" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> Ask any relatively engaged Hearthstone player what the two worst classes in the game are, and odds are they will tell you Rogue and Shaman. Peculiar, then, that these two classes are not just present at Blizzcon, but actually pretty well-represented.</p><p> Ostkaka and Hotform both elected to bring versions of the bursty Oil Rogue archetype. As for Shaman, the Taiwanese player Pinpingho picked his trademark Midrange deck, and even threatened Ostkaka with Thrall’s catchphrase, “The elements will destroy you!”, in the pre-game interview. There was another Shaman on show, too, with China’s DieMeng favouring the aggressive Mech variant, presumably in the hope of dismantling his opponents with explosive starts.</p><p> The results were mixed. Rogue performed the better of the two classes, but Ostkaka lost once, and Hotform twice, before winning with the deck, resulting in an overall score of 2-3 for Rogue. Shaman did worse, with neither of the players piloting the class able to win a single game with it.</p><p> The only time the two classes matched up directly was in the fourth game between Ostkaka and Pinpingho. While you always have to give Rogue the edge in this matchup, this game nevertheless illustrates Midrange Shaman’s weaknesses as an archetype. Particularly the vulnerability to a well-timed board wipe. With abundant card draw and an empty board, Ostkaka had all the answers.</p><h4>‘Esportal’ continues to decide big&nbsp;games</h4><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/NHPgOzpFJos?start=36" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> For those unfamiliar with Hearthstone, Unstable Portal is a Mage spell that gives its player a completely random minion at a discounted cost. As you can imagine, the outcomes range from completely useless to game-endingly powerful. It’s a card that the pros hate but spectators love, Unstable Portal is too potentially powerful not to include in certain Mage decks, but its inherent randomness is equal-parts exhilarating and frustrating.</p><p> In his first game versus Zoro, Hotform cast Unstable Portal on turn two. The minion he received was Dreadsteed, a unique card that leaves a copy of itself in play when it dies. It’s hard to imagine a better card to deal with an aggressive paladin deck than a mana-discounted Dreadsteed, since the earlier it can start chipping away at enemy minions, the more value it will get over the course of the game.</p><p> Hotform may well have won without the Dreadsteed, but he also might not have. We’ll never know, because the game was decided as soon as Unstable Portal gave him that card. Love it or hate it, the impact of RNG on competitive Hearthstone is huge, and you’ll struggle to find a better illustration of it than this Unstable Portal, which took place in a game for a place in the World Championship semi-finals.</p><h4>Kno keeps his cool as the casters stumble</h4><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/yoRHTdPpx6U?start=1020" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> Kno is 1-0 down, ahead on board as Midrange Paladin versus DieMeng’s Mech Shaman, but he has only 3 life. DieMeng has Doomhammer equipped, which will guarantee 4 damage to Kno’s hero next turn. Kno can equip Truesilver Champion and attack face to heal up to 5 life, and potentially survive the next turn if DieMeng has no damage in hand. But Diemeng does have damage in hand. He has a Crackle, meaning Kno’s only chance to win is to end the game now by killing his opponent this turn.</p><p> The casters know this, so they count for lethal with Truesilver Champion plus one damage from the Knife Juggler’s effect which will be activated by the Paladin hero power. It’s one off. It’s over, they conclude. Twitch chat starts to spam ‘GG’. But all the while Kno is counting on his fingers, checking and rechecking, before eventually nodding to himself and committing to a play. He plays the second Knife Juggler, then uses his hero power, then plays Big Game Hunter, granting him 5 extra damage. It’s exact lethal.</p><p> Not only is this great comedy&mdash;with the casters frantically drawing the wrong conclusions, then being shocked by Kno seeing the lethal they all missed&mdash;but it’s also a fantastic demonstration of Kno’s credentials. Instead of panicking, he very calmly counted up his damage and closed out the game. He went on to win this series 3-1, then gave a great interview, full of confidence about how he is going to win the whole thing. I don’t know about you, but I might just have a new favourite.</p><hr id="horizontal rule"><p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> Heroes of the Storm's Cho'gall is the strangest MOBA experience I've hadhttp://www.pcgamer.com/heroes-of-the-storms-chogall-is-the-strangest-moba-experience-ive-had/Heroes of the Storm's newest hero has one body controlled by two separate players, and it feels a bit like getting married.Sat, 07 Nov 2015 09:13:18 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/heroes-of-the-storms-chogall-is-the-strangest-moba-experience-ive-had/Blizzard EntertainmentBlizzconHands OnHeroes of the StormMOBAPro <iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5fO3gEhNJHo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p> Sharing control of Cho'gall, the new two-headed ogre announced for&nbsp;Heroes of the Storm's at Blizzcon today, is an oddly intimate experience. As my ogre&nbsp;co-owner PC Gamer Pro editor Chris Thursten put it: it's a bit like&nbsp;committing to a strange sort of&nbsp;HotS marriage. For most players,&nbsp;I imagine who you get hitched to&nbsp;will have a major impact on how enjoyable the experience is. Playing as Abathur comes close, but&nbsp;I've never really encountered anything quite like Cho'gall in a MOBA before, and it's a testament to Blizzard's innovative hero design that it feels so fun. Watch the video to see Chris and I discuss our fairly blissful matrimony.</p><p> In our first match I played Cho, who's&nbsp;a melee warrior and the legs of the operation. I had control over where we moved, which usually also meant I took the blame when we died. Meanwhile, Chris was handling the Gall side of things&mdash;a ranged assassin with low&nbsp;cooldown nukes but no auto-attack. The two characters are literally inseparable, with a combined (very large) health pool and no mana costs for any abilities. We quickly learned that communication was vital to any sort of success.</p><p> That first match was chaos. We had to learn two sets of abilities instead of just one, while I also got to grips with the fact that if I died, I took Chris with me. This rapid education was complicated by Cho'gall's E ability, which is linked between the players. I would roll a bomb out in a line as Cho, but it was up to Chris to detonate it at the right time. I constantly forgot to let Chris know when or where I was going to throw the bomb, and as a result he wasn't able to react in time. This was in stark contrast to our second game when Chris took over Cho and began reliably calling out his rolls, which helped my Gall immensely.</p><iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/2men9QUBgGk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> </iframe><p> As we levelled up, Cho and Gall's talents provided more and more opportunities for us to affect each other's abilities. A talent for Cho gives Gall an ability that makes both unstoppable for two seconds, while a talent for Gall enables him to nudge Cho a short distance in any direction. It's these effects that I enjoyed most, because I was often picking talents that didn't directly benefit me, instead relying on Chris to use them effectively. Whether or not these are the best options remains to be seen, but for now&nbsp;they're interesting&nbsp;to experiment with.&nbsp;</p><p> Arguably as intriguing&nbsp;as Cho'gall himself is the method which Blizzard is using to distribute the character. He won't be available in the shop, probably in part due to the fact that you aren't able to solo-queue with him, but both parts of the Ogre are being&nbsp;given free to everyone who attended BlizzCon or purchased a&nbsp;virtual ticket to watch online. Those players can party up with friends who don't have Cho'gall and use him together. If you win two games he's permanently unlocked for the player who didn't own him, and so the ogre good times spread. It's viral hero distribution, and weirdly brilliant.</p><p><strong>[UPDATE: </strong>As pointed out in the comments, Cho'gall will only be available like this until the end of the year, at which point he'll go on sale in the shop like normal. Thanks to Vulcan for the tip.<strong>]</strong></p><p> I don't think Chris and I played Cho'gall particularly well, but he's not exactly the kind of&nbsp;hero that suits being hastily learned on a show floor. Given time and practice, I could see myself getting in sync and finding a rhythm with the person manning the other half of my ogre. If nothing else, it's a&nbsp;cool, risky, and downright odd experience in a genre that traditionally loves to glorify individual player skill.&nbsp;</p><hr id="horizontal rule"> <p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> The best and the worst of the BlizzCon 2015 opening ceremonyhttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-and-the-worst-of-the-blizzcon-2015-opening-ceremony/BlizzCon's biggest announcements were revealed this morning, and we were there to see them all.Sat, 07 Nov 2015 07:17:46 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-and-the-worst-of-the-blizzcon-2015-opening-ceremony/BlizzconHearthstoneHeroes of the StormOverwatchwarcraftWorld of Warcraft <iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/bErYRrX89Aw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>Day one of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/blizzcon/" target="_blank">BlizzCon</a> is wrapping up, and most of Blizzard's big secrets have been revealed. We took a moment after this morning's opening ceremony to reflect on everything unveiled on stage. That included <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/all-the-details-on-the-world-of-warcraft-legion-expansion/" target="_blank">more details</a> about World of Warcraft's Legion expansion,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatch-will-not-be-free-to-play-blizzard-confirms/" target="_blank">Overwatch's pricing model and release plan</a>, Heroes of the Storm's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/heroes-of-the-storms-chogall-will-be-controlled-by-two-players-at-once/" target="_blank">ridiculous new characters</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstones-new-adventure-the-league-of-explorers-launches-next-week/" target="_blank">Hearthstone's next expansion</a>, and more. Check out our thoughts in the video above and let us know yours below.</p> Hearthstone's League of Explorers is Indiana Jones remade with a posh murlochttp://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstones-league-of-explorers-is-indiana-jones-remade-with-a-posh-murloc/...but the game needs more than another adventure to keep it fresh.Sat, 07 Nov 2015 05:16:26 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstones-league-of-explorers-is-indiana-jones-remade-with-a-posh-murloc/BlizzardBlizzconCard GameHearthstonePro <iframe width="500" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/6r14hycImRk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p> As someone who still occasionally unwinds by giving the Innkeeper a brutal kicking in practice mode, (on 'expert', I'm not a monster), I'm always excited for more single-player Hearthstone content. Launching next Thursday, The League of Explorers is the next adventure mode, and sees four adventurers ransacking trap-laden tombs in pursuit of the Staff of Origination. Over the course of four wings players will defeat bosses and other challenges to unlock&nbsp; <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-league-of-explorers-cards-list/">45 new collectible cards</a>. One of those is a Murloc that wears a monocle. To which I say: "Stay out of my wishbook, Blizzard."</p><p> Here at Blizzcon in Anaheim, the challenge being used to demo the expansion is called 'Temple Escape'. The fast readers among you will have deduced that this involves escaping from a temple. What that actually entails is keeping your hero–who is accompanied by&nbsp;a feckless Indiana Jones-alike called Reno Jackson–alive for 10 turns. Making that less likely is the fact that each turn the temple will summon a 0-Mana obstacle, which are generally powerful creatures, and as Reno moves from room to room 'Choose Your Own Adventure'-style events will be triggered.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/CYSS64p5TR2a.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/nC3rsmXEyz0G.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The final wing will see games fought on a second new board themed on the Hall of Explorers." class=""> <figcaption>The final wing will see games fought on a second new board themed on the Hall of Explorers.</figcaption></figure><p> Some of these are beneficial, like finding a pool of glowing water which you can either drink from or wade through (gaining a mana crystal or drawing a card, depending on which you pick) while others are riskier. Another one involves deciding whether to take 5 guaranteed damage or a chance on receiving 0 or 10. In a rare display of mercy from RNGesus I managed to roll 0 all three times I played.</p><p> Other hazards included a collapsing ceiling which wiped both sides of the board, but you got one turn of warning beforehand to plan accordingly (hint: play Deathrattle creatures), and a Rolling Boulder card that gets placed on your side of the board and destroys the minion to its left at the end of each turn. That was pretty easy to play around, and to be honest Temple Escape wasn't much of a challenge. Which isn't a huge surprise, given that 'normal' mode in these adventures is designed so that pretty much everyone can scoop up all the cards. The 'heroic' difficulty will likely be another kettle of murlocs.</p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">the little murloc that could</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/yNoFhvCtRm-q.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BEvJuvQCrxB-.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Sir Finley Mrrgglton"> </p> <p> Don't sleep on Sir Finley, this posh amphibian may prove surprisingly powerful. </p> </div><p> Speaking of murlocs, a word on my favourite card in the set so far: Sir Finley Mrrgglton. As one of the titular explorers this gentleman murloc is&nbsp;a&nbsp; <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-the-20-best-legendary-cards/">legendary card</a>, with stats of 1/3 for 1 mana. But it's his Battlecry we're interested in. It reads: "Discover a new basic hero power". This is a super powerful effect potentially. The Discover keyword lets you pick from three options, like the Hunter's Tracking card, so it's RNG but with an element of player control.</p><p> Perhaps you'll be in the late game when you draw Sir Finley, and switch to the Priest hero power for some desperately-needed healing. My guess, though, is that Warlock's Life Tap hero power will be the most coveted pick. There's a reason Warlock minions tend to be bad, and that's because the hero power gives the class easy access to card draw. But imagine Life Tap in a class with great creatures like, say, Druid, or one that struggles with card draw, like Shaman. Interestingly, when I interviewed senior game designer Mike Donais afterwards, he said that the most picked hero power internally has been Paladin's Silver Hand Recruits.</p><blockquote> Hearthstone now feels in need of a more significant shakeup. </blockquote><p> Another card which seemed notable was Unearthed Raptor, which is a 3/4 for 3 that has a Battlecry that copies a friendly minion's Deathrattle. That's a decent statline and a fairly easy to proc effect. It will see play. Also potentially strong is Wobbling Runts. It's a 2/6 for 6 which summons three 2/2s when it dies. (The runts are standing on each others shoulders, and spill out when it gets knocked down according to senior game designer Ben Brode.) The Runts initial attack might seem underwhelming, but collectively they represent 20 points of attack and health. That's one more than Savannah Highmane! It could definitely be viable in a deck like Token Druid.</p><figure><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/uGrM15V9Ty-h.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/OL17aTEWQHR8.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="The League from left: Brann Bronzebeard, Elise Starseeker, Reno Jackson and Sir Finley Mrrggleton" class=""><figcaption>From left to right:&nbsp;Brann Bronzebeard, Elise Starseeker, Reno Jackson &amp; Sir Finley Mrrggleton</figcaption></figure><p> Tomb Spider also looks dangerous. It's a 3/3 for 4 mana with the text: "Discover a random beast". Discover seems like a much more viable&mdash;and sensibly costed&mdash;mechanic than The Grand Tournament's Inspire. Think about how surprisingly good drawing random beasts from Webspinner is. Now add an element of choice, and it's easy to imagine this card entering Hunter lists, and potentially even Beast Druid if that ever becomes a thing.</p><p> Note that the way Discover works limits the possible outcomes to neutral cards and those from your class. The element of choice is what's really interesting though. I think it will potentially alleviate some of that frustrating sense of helplessness players can feel when they draw badly, and choice in general is a powerful tool in terms of making the game more interactive.</p> <div class="fancy-box"> <h5 class="title">more&nbsp;murloc madness</h5> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/JOe2PsCNQKOw.png" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EMlGRFO3yQ0q.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Everyfin is Awesome"> </p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/JCMjpTrfSfyM.png" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/QKnSX5KdSVg0.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Anyfin Can Happen"> </p> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ykMGk0VETpGV.png" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WTE0iPOBv7Ic.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Murloc Tinyfin"> </p> </div><p> But back to the murlocs. I suspect they really might be a menace again. Between the equally ludicrous Everyfin is Awesome and Anyfin Can Happen cards, plus Sir Finley and that adorable murloc Wisp, the time is surely right for the second age of murloc. I expect The League Of Explorers to usher in some serious experimentation with the slippery mrrgghlers, and I for one do not necessarily welcome our new fish overlords.</p><p> There's a lot to like about the League of Explorers though. Judging by the Temple Escape demo, Blizzard's Team 5 is now supremely confident with this single-player stuff, and the 45 new cards are interesting enough, and should freshen up the post Warsong Commander nerf metagame somewhat. So why don't I feel more excited? I think it's because wider doubts about where Hearthstone goes next persist, and they're too big for another adventure mode, however fun and tightly designed, to truly allay.</p><p> Hearthstone now feels in need of a more significant shakeup. The card pool has expanded to the point where certain creatures are so obviously best-in-class for their mana cost (think Dr Boom, Shielded Minibot, Piloted Shredder, Knife Juggler and Sludge Belcher), that they've led to completely entrenched deck archetypes and a fairly samey play style based on curving out with highest value creatures possible.&nbsp;</p><p> Much as I like Discover, it will take some&nbsp;even more radical new mechanics, a wide ranging rebalance of the existing card set, or perhaps fundamental changes to the structure of the game, in order to keep players coming back to play constructed Hearthstone. But for now, the League represents a welcome pre-Christmas pick-me-up. I just worry that these jolly explorers may end up getting trampled by a bunch of secretive men on horseback.</p><hr id="horizontal rule"> <p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> Overwatch's new characters are the missing pieces of the puzzlehttp://www.pcgamer.com/overwatchs-new-characters-are-the-missing-pieces-of-the-puzzle/Blocking Bastion, reflecting Pharah, and playing mindgames with Soldier: 76.Sat, 07 Nov 2015 04:50:14 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/overwatchs-new-characters-are-the-missing-pieces-of-the-puzzle/BlizzardBlizzconFPSOverwatchPro <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/yYN-aJOdRey9.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ii-M6Pu36pDw.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="DVa Header"></p><p> I've had my ups and downs with Overwatch. In the space of a few short weeks, I've discovered much to admire and run into what I consider to be weak links&mdash;the <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/what-overwatch-could-learn-from-dota-2s-support-characters/">relative passivity of support play</a>, matches that are frequently one-sided, the frustrations that emerge whenever a game makes strangers dependent on one another for success.</p><p> I won't say that the build I played today fixed all of that, but something definitely clicked into place with all 21 heroes in play. Blizzard have confirmed that Overwatch will be a regular boxed game and they've been pretty cagey about whether or not we should expect new heroes after release. In this light, the new characters&mdash;Mei, Genji and D.Va&mdash;aren't just the latest additions to an ever-expanding roster: they're the missing pieces of a very particular puzzle.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/BDdRHAvVSka0.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/XJf-VPSXfyAD.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Mei"></p><p> <strong>Mei </strong>fits into the same fuzzy middle-ground between defense and support that Symmetra occupies. She can slow enemies at close range with her primary fire and freeze herself to regenerate health, which gives her a sustainable controlling presence in the frontline of a fight. Her ultimate allows her to lock down a wide area with a massive AoE slow&mdash;like Zarya, she's most effective when paired with somebody that can capitalise on the setup she provides. What makes her special, though, is her ice wall. Other characters can add to the gameworld, but nobody else modifies it like Mei does.</p><p> The wall is a game-changer. It can be used to raise heroes without a movement power, like Zarya, onto high ground. It can be used to create bridges that slower heroes can't cross. It can be used to temporarily block ingress points and to provide cover for an attacking team. If you've played the beta, you'll certainly have encountered situations where a well-positioned Bastion can feel completely impassable: where one player gets to sit and hold LMB while the attackers attempt to overcome him with sheer weight of numbers. Mei can ruin Bastion's day with a gesture, throwing the wall down in front of him and forcing him to relocate. I'm really excited by the tactical space she opens up, and it's great to see a new backline character with a skill ceiling this high.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/V1Jqh9FUSD6-.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ARHXDq1XGDZL.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Genji"></p><p> Mei's great, but expect <strong>Genji</strong> to draw the crowds. He's a playmaking cyborg ninja, and every match I've played today has featured about six of him. As an offense character, he sits somewhere between Reaper and Tracer with a higher skill ceiling than either. His throwing stars, his regular attack, are powerful but require careful aim and have a regular cooldown period&mdash;a little like Tracer's SMGs. Unlike Tracer, however, he doesn't have a reliable 'get out of trouble' button. Genji's primary escape option is his dashing sword strike, which is wasted when you use it to relocate: if it kills somebody, its cooldown is instantly refreshed. Defensive play is a missed opportunity to go on a multi-kill sword streak.</p><p> The same is true for Genji's deflect&mdash;it doesn't just block incoming ranged damage, it points it back where he's aiming. You can use it to get out of trouble, but you can also use it to snipe Widowmaker with her own bullet&mdash;or reflect an entire Pharah ultimate. This skill-based defensive option turns Genji into an aggressive character who has options when he's outranged and outgunned. It won't always work, and he falls quickly if he gets flanked (or if his brother, Hanzo, knows how to aim) but you don't feel as helpless against Pharah as you sometimes do as Tracer. He feels like a more consistent flanker, somebody who presents a threat that defenders can't ignore in a way that scales dramatically with player ability. Tracer's still better at cracking an entrenched position, but Genji dances behind enemy lines in a way that she can't.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Q4iW3PlvTuOn.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/yPcTkpZYfcRs.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="DVa"></p><p> <strong>D.Va</strong> is my favourite of the new set. She's a StarCraft pro in a bubblegum-pink mech that she deploys from orbit like a Titanfall drop. In effect, she's two characters: D.Va with the mech, which is the default&mdash;she spawns in it&mdash;and D.Va without. In the mech, she's a consistent damage dealer with strong defensive and repositioning options. The mech's miniguns don't need to reload, but slow her down while she's firing&mdash;you stomp about and suppress large areas, draw fire, then move on. She can activate a defense field that destroys all incoming projectiles&mdash;again, a great counter to Bastion, Pharah, and Hanzo&mdash;but she can't use it while firing. By pressing Shift you activate thrusters, which allow you to quickly jet from one side of the combat zone to another.</p><p> You will, however, inevitably lose the mech. Take too much damage and it explodes, ejecting D.Va in the process. Her mech-ultimate accounts for this: she bails, the mech blasts forward, implodes on itself, and detonates in the biggest explosion in Overwatch. Losing the mech early, then, is a waste. The idea is to skirmish around the frontline while using your shield to stay alive, built up your ult, then kick out of the mech while using the explosion to open a door for your team. You can even combo her ult with her thrusters, blasting the mech forward so that it detonates further away.</p><p> On foot, D.Va is weak but not helpless. She only has a pistol, but it's not quite as bad as Mercy's&mdash;you can still be killed by it, and she's incredibly fast and slippery. In this mode her ult summons the mech suit again, and it charges at an accelerated rate. You have to be a bit more cautious, but there’s a big difference between ‘momentarily becoming less powerful’ and ‘momentarily becoming dead’. My favourite moment in any of my games today came when I, as D.Va and mechless, led an enemy Solider: 76 on a chase in and around the buildings on the new map, Hollywood. He totally outgunned me, I could outrun him. I’d turn and fire, make a little progress towards my ult, and run again. He’d chip away at me, I’d grab a healthpack. Eventually, I earned my ult right as he got me to 10 hitpoints. I turned; he fired; I dropped the mech, instantly returning to 500 health and opening up with two massive chainguns.</p><p> You can also kill people with the mech drop, like in Titanfall. I know because this happened to me, and was humiliating.</p><p> Overwatch really benefits from the new techniques these characters introduce. Even in a con environment, players were rolling out the strats I’ve become a little bit tired of in the beta. It feels so good to find new ways around an entrenched Bastion, new ways to push attackers off points, new ways to play the skirmisher role. This experience has left me much more confident in the game as a whole: 18 heroes was good, but 21 feels right.</p><hr id="horizontal rule"><p> <img class="pulled-image pull-left" style="margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;" data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/udJMoWhiR6uK.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/EOXQtbQL9-vi.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Pcgp Logo Red Small"> <strong><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/pro/">PC Gamer Pro</a></strong> is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!</p> Hearthstone The League of Explorers: Complete card galleryhttp://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-league-of-explorers-cards-list/A look at every card in the new Adventure coming next week.Sat, 07 Nov 2015 01:27:17 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/hearthstone-league-of-explorers-cards-list/BlizzconCard GameExpansionHearthstonePro All the details on the World of Warcraft: Legion expansionhttp://www.pcgamer.com/all-the-details-on-the-world-of-warcraft-legion-expansion/Our WoW experttakes a closer look at the return of The Burning Legion.Sat, 07 Nov 2015 01:16:18 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/all-the-details-on-the-world-of-warcraft-legion-expansion/BlizzardBlizzconMMOWorld of Warcraft <p><img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/WZtQj-foTLyF.jpg" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/IR2Y7VW4bVMj.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Legion"></p><p> It was only a couple of months ago that I reflected on what World of Warcraft's Warlords of Draenor expansion <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/world-of-warcraft-desperately-needs-its-next-expansion/">had become</a> over the months since launch, and at the time I suggested that it was "a placeholder while the team scrambles to come up with something better." Based on what Blizzard revealed on the main stage at BlizzCon today, the upcoming Legion expansion might be that "something better," after all.</p><p> Today, after months of flagging attention in World of Warcraft and declining subscriber numbers, Blizzard shows it still knows how to get our attention with some jaw-dropping cinematics. The main trailer for Legion depicts King Varian Wrynn aboard a ship besieged by the titular Legion, whereupon he's helped by none other than Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, a longtime Horde adversary (and fan favorite). The ship goes down, goes boom. Is Varian dead? No, he's changing specs (or something) and kicking ass! It's great stuff that ties directly into the storyline&mdash;so great, in fact, that many are claiming that it's better than the full-length <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/the-warcraft-film-trailer-is-finally-here/">Warcraft movie trailer</a> that aired earlier in the day.</p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/eYNCCu0y-Is?rel=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" width="610"></iframe><p> It sets the tone for the expansion, which seems to show the Horde and Alliance finally getting over their petty squabbles (to an extent) to work together and destroy an adversary that threatens them all. To that end, the expansion will kick off with a new 40-person scenario split evenly between the Horde and the Alliance as they rush to the tomb of Sargeras on the Broken Isles that serve as the expansion's setting.</p><p> The focus onstage then shifted to the new Demon Hunter hero class, which models itself on the emo Night Elf Illidan Stormrage from Warcraft III and starts players off at level 98. Long-awaited, the class nevertheless looks like it plays about as much as you'd expect based on previous Warcraft lore, right down to the hero slicing things up with oversized glaives. Illidan himself guides the class through its starting level, which takes place back in time when Illidan was still doing Hamlet impressions at Outland's Black Temple.</p><p> "Unprepared" for an assault on the fortress, Illidan sends his flock of homegrown Demon Hunters to the demon prison world of Mardum, which is crammed with both new and familiar varieties of demons. The Demon Hunter players slice through them, picking up their couple of hotbars' worth of skills from the very bodies of demons, and Illidan's even nice enough to give them a (rather ugly) semi-skeletal mount. The party ends, though, when Maiev Shadowsong jails all the new Demon Hunters for years, until at last they're set free in the unseen second half of the Demon Hunter starter zones to save the world.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/1rrJoX5TSzK8.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/2WHUp4C72JaA.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Legion"></p><p> Blizzard then devoted a huge chunk of its panel to showing off the art design of the six new zones for the Broken Isles, which are admittedly lovely. This is all that's left of Suramar, a vast region that was destroyed in the Sundering thousands of years ago.</p><p> One problem is that the zones seem to push the theme park concept a little too literally in contrast to previous expansions, as if going for a scattershot "greatest hits" appeal rather than a coherent theme. In one corner, for instance, we have Val'sharah, a leafy, druidy zone that contains Shaladrassil, the big tree that was once the entrance to the mysterious Emerald Dream. In another, we have Stormheim, full of the brawny Viking-like Vrykul warriors who were so popular during the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Elsewhere still we have the Highmountain zone that's filled with Tauren with moose antlers, a pretty Greek island-themed zone called Azuna, and the sprawling city of Suramar itself, which is full of former Night Elves who've long been corrupted by the magic that's protected the place for all these years.</p><p> More interesting is how we'll level through this content. Instead of guiding the 100-110 progression through specific zones in order, the content will scale according to your new "legacy" weapon, thus allowing you to venture through the beautiful theme park in an order of your own. The upshot is that it's also a great way to allow players of different levels to play together, and that it also allows Blizzard to use every zone for endgame questing content.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/OAjPHXxSRci0.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/YJn4tivAGhs1.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Legion"></p><p> The questing content itself sounds attractive, as Blizzard claims it wants to combine the story focus on endgame quests from Mists of Pandaria with the choices available in Warlords of Draenor. Now, they say, you'll be able to choose which missions you want to undertake, and some of these may take multiple days. Some are profession-specific, some are PvP-related (apparently there's still some bad blood there, cutscene to the contrary), and some will bring back minigames. The whole game will share the same quests in this regard, so it won't be necessary to hop to other servers to find the one you want or need.</p><p> And, naturally, there are new dungeons and raids. Legion will kick off with the seven-boss Emerald Nightmare raid set in the Emerald Dream (so much for that being a whole expansion) and the 10-boss Suramar Palace where Gul'dan apparently hangs out these days. Ten dungeons will make an initial appearance, with five being aimed at leveling up and five being aimed at the endgame. Legion even sees World of Warcraft rip a page from Diablo III with its Challenger's Keystone for Challenge Mode dungeons that recall Nephalem Rifts, although with modifiers that shake up the dungeon behavior aof enemies.</p><p> That's what we now know about Legion in a nutshell. This all sounds like great stuff, but here's to hoping Blizzard continues to dish out meaningful content for it after it launches next summer, rather than letting it chug along on autopilot as it did with Warlords of Draenor.</p><p>Blizzard said it plans to release Legion sometime in summer 2016.</p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/IDW5bTZTS6Gw.png" src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/Twa5Cj-lNsGg.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Legion"></p><p><img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/j2wXs4yYSuST.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/a3m8kbuxOVLE.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Legion"></p> Thank you, Bob Ross, for all the happy treeshttp://www.pcgamer.com/thank-you-bob-ross-for-all-the-happy-trees/The Joy of Painting Marathon on Twitch has come to an end.Sat, 07 Nov 2015 01:09:43 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/thank-you-bob-ross-for-all-the-happy-trees/Twitch <p><img class="gfyitem" alt="ThunderousDamagedHaddock (gfyCat video) " data-id="ThunderousDamagedHaddock" data-controls="false" data-title="false" data-autoplay="true" data-expand="true"></p><p> The Joy of Painting Marathon&nbsp;<a href="http://twitch.tv/bobross">on Twitch</a>&mdash;which has been streaming all 403&nbsp;episodes of gentle-voiced artist&nbsp;Robert Norman "Bob" Ross' TV show for days&mdash;has just come to an end.&nbsp;</p><p>For some it's been a&nbsp;nostalgic ride&mdash;I remember watching The Joy of Painting as a kid in the 80's, and finding Bob's tone soothing as well as enjoying the idea that trees and shrubs could be happy. Who knew?&nbsp;Others have discovered Bob for the first time through Twitch, and treated the show like a livestreamed&nbsp;pro-gaming match, complete with calls of GG at the end of each episode. Bob Ross died in 1995 of lymphoma, but it's wonderful he's found a whole new collection of fans.</p><p>The Joy of Painting Marathon came about to celebrate&nbsp;<a href="http://blog.twitch.tv/2015/10/introducing-twitch-creative/">the launch of Twitch Creative</a>, a channel devoted to artists of all kinds:&nbsp;painters, woodworkers, costume creators, prop builders, musicians, and so on.</p><p>The Bob Ross Twitch channel is currently showing an image with the words "Stay Tuned." As of this writing, almost an hour after the stream wrapped up, there are still nearly 40,000 people watching. Most of them posting in chat&nbsp;still want more Bob.</p> This week's highs and lows in PC gaminghttp://www.pcgamer.com/this-weeks-highs-and-lows-in-pc-gaming_Nov06_2015/“If you’ve not got hot takes you’re little people!” bellowed Bryant as PCG prepared for one last job.Sat, 07 Nov 2015 00:30:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/this-weeks-highs-and-lows-in-pc-gaming_Nov06_2015/highs and lows <h4> <p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/6B8kjfuESHyC.jpg" src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/L0CwpZzRj3Sl.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Highs Lows Fallout 4"></p></h4><h4>THE HIGHS</h4><p> <strong>Samuel Roberts: OMG Fallout is nearly here</strong> <br> This is an easy high. Four years I’ve been waiting for a new Bethesda RPG&mdash;five for a new Fallout. On Tuesday, I finally get to play&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-4/">Fallout 4</a>. To be honest, I was more engaged with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/fallout-3/" target="_blank">Fallout 3</a> than I think I’ve been with any other game. I know that it gets a bit of a divided response from fans of the original PC games, but what Bethesda accomplished in building that world, and fleshing it out with these interesting self-contained sci-fi stories was just so exciting to me. This promises to be more of that but in an all-new setting that represents eight years of progression in environmental design from Bethesda’s first post-apocalyptic effort.</p><p> Still, I can tell you that I’m sick to death of seeing Vault Boy’s cheerful little face, and it’s not really anything to do with the game itself, but the run-up to launch. Head onto the next page and you’ll find out why.</p><p> <strong>Tom Senior:&nbsp;Bullet hell yes</strong> <br> Cave has arrived on PC with the release of <a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/377860/">Mushihimesama</a> on Steam. For too long the PC has lacked for bullet hell shooters, so the arrival of this classic is cause for celebration.</p><p> When games make the leap from console to PC, something is added. Sometimes it's mods, sometimes it's improved resolutions and faster frame rates. For bullet hell shooters, it's something much simpler. Go to the options menu, rotate the game, then rotate your monitor to enjoy glorious arcade-style 9:16 carnage. Bliss.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/ksqlxJAFRBeq.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/cDlxR8NuMkO4.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Batmobile Highs Lows"></p><p> <strong>James Davenport: The Batmobile is Arkham Right</strong> <br> To my beloved PCG coworkers,</p><p> I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to work at PC Gamer. It’s been an invaluable five months, and I’ll never forget what I’ve learned or all the fun times we had together. But I need to get something off my chest. I really like the Batmobile in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/batman-arkham-knight-review/" target="_blank">Arkham Knight</a>. I’m aware of what this means for my immediate future&mdash;I’m packing my things, Tim&mdash;but, like Batman, I can’t tolerate injustice idly (and unlike Batman I’m not very tough and can’t punch my opinion into people).</p><p> When I’m surrounded by tank drones in the slick city streets of Gotham, and I’m dancing between their clearly communicated lines of fire, popping their chassis one after the other like a series of urban crime pimples&mdash;phew, my keyboard’s getting hot. It’s just fun is all. Anyway, I hate burning bridges, so let’s get this over with. I appreciate everything you’ve all done for me, but this might be it for us. I’ll still look for your signal in the sky, just don’t expect me to fly to your aid, PC Gamer. Look to the ground and listen for the treads, the treads of a better, more correct hot take.&nbsp;</p><p> <strong>Phil Savage: Conversion Kings</strong> <br> It's always nice to see a <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/crusader-kings-game-of-thrones-mod-v10-released/">mod leave beta</a>, because so often they don't. And Crusader Kings 2's Game of Thrones mod is one of the best around&mdash;assuming your idea of 'best' involves adding dragons and other fantasy elements to a complex simulation of medieval land distribution. The team have done some amazing work and, thanks to the many updates and new features added over the last three years, it's not really a surprise that they've finally 'finished'. That there's also a spoiler-free sub-mod for those still working their way through the books or TV show is a lovely touch.</p><p> If you haven't yet, it's absolutely worth a download&mdash;especially if you've grown dissatisfied with the game's many expansions. Much of Crusader Kings 2's DLC has been worthwhile, but this Total Conversion completely alters the experience in a significant way. It's much more than a reskin. If CK2 isn't your thing, you can still enjoy the mod, via either Rich McCormick's diaries from <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/playing-the-game-of-thrones/">back in 2013</a>, or Chris Livingston's from <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/game-of-checkers/">earlier this year</a>.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://4d663a369f9f03c3c61e-870e77779efd63f7bd6c2ee08d8cfae6.r2.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/61EEbXvhRyae.jpg" src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/SGEp2Lrwz31s.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Highs Lows Halo"></p><p> <strong>Wes Fenlon: I’m playing Halo on PC again! (kind of)</strong> <br> I spent almost an entire summer playing Halo 1 on PC, or watching my best friend play it as we swapped seats in front of his brand new gaming PC. That was more than a decade ago, now, and I’ve never really had that Halo experience on PC again; when Halo 2 had its belated launched on Windows Vista, I was mostly playing Halo 3 on the Xbox 360. To this day I miss Halo 1’s beastly pistol matches with the accuracy of mouse aim, and the giant, sprawling community made maps that led to three-hour-long CTF matches. So it’s nice to be playing Halo on PC again, although I’m still waiting for all of that stuff: I<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/tested-xbox-one-to-pc-streaming-with-halo-multiplayer/">’m playing Halo 5 via Microsoft’s new Xbox to PC streaming technology</a>, and it’s been working surprisingly well.</p><p> Maybe not well enough for me to do it long-term, though. The video feed is more compressed than I’d like, and there’s some liveable, but noticeable, latency to each of my actions. And of course, there’s no keyboard/mouse controls or mod scene or FOV slider to be found. The game plays so damn well, though, I’m really hoping this is the one Microsoft brings to PC. I think it could have an actual esports scene with a little work and a PC fanbase.&nbsp;</p><p> <strong>Chris Livingston: Free to not play</strong> <br> This past weekend I got out of my desk chair, left the house, got on an airplane, and took a trip far, far away from my PC. The trip was to attend a wedding in a stunningly lovely part of Colorado. The wedding was great, the weather was beautiful, and for four straight days I didn't play a game. I didn't even think about games. I talked about games, once, briefly, when I told someone I met that I wrote about games for a living, but she responded "Oh" and didn't have any follow-up questions. That was it.</p><p> It's weird, I guess, but taking a break from things you enjoy can be refreshing. Especially now, at the start of November, with the crush of end-of-the-year games bearing down on us at near-light speed like a deranged Santa in his sleigh. For the next couple months we'll all be rooted in our seats, playing whatever we can get our hands on between stuffing ourselves with holiday meals and wondering how the hell could it be almost 2016 already. I'm happy to be back at my desk, but I enjoyed the calm before the storm.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://e5c351ecddc2f880ef72-57d6ff1fc59ab172ec418789d348b0c1.r69.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/O24e9otjSYiN.jpg" src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/h0RnXaG3PAAy.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="highs and lows 11/6"></p><h4>THE LOWS</h4><p> <strong>Samuel Roberts: Merchandise apocalypse</strong> <br> Keza MacDonald from Kotaku criticised the <a href="http://www.kotaku.co.uk/2015/11/03/can-we-tone-it-the-fuck-down-with-the-fallout-merchandising">tidal wave of Fallout 4 merchandise</a> and other tie-ins that we’ve seen with the game’s coming release, and I agree. When did Vault Boy become the Minions of computer games? Who’s dressing their blonde baby up as Vault Boy and can they please stop? Can you not sell Vault Boy throw pillows please?</p><p> It’s really abstract to me because Fallout has such a specific PC legacy&mdash;and now it’s suddenly everywhere. I don’t think it cheapens the main product, but it’s not doing anything to make me more excited about the game.</p><p> <strong>Phil Savage: Spoiler alert</strong> <br> I've been thinking about spoilers lately, because I'm in the middle of reviewing a big, anticipated game that a lot of people are hyped for. Incidentally, I'm also now allowed to say that our Fallout 4 review will be live on Monday, at 1pm GMT. That's right, there was an embargo on the embargo. Video games!</p><p> Anyway, spoilers. It's always a delicate thing, because obviously people want to experience fiction on their own terms. For a work to have the desired impact, that process is important. At the same time, people can go too far in the opposite direction. Last year, when I reviewed Dragon Age: Inquisition, people criticised the fact that I 'spoiled' the opening story beats of a 50+ hour game. Elsewhere, I've seen people get offended at spoilers after the fact; and even themselves spoil a plot point by revealing how an otherwise innocuous, out-of-context piece of information could, with the addition of the extra information they themselves offered up, be a spoiler. It's a minefield, and a really stupid one at that.</p><p> More recently, I watched with interest as people reacted to the leak of Fallout 4 videos and screenshots. There was an outcry about the spread of spoilers, which was odd. Neither the people who leaked the videos, or the news sites that posted about them, have the power to force these people to watch them. The sort of person who posts uninvited spoilers into a comments thread or forum should be invited to redirect all their mail to their new home: the bin. But those worried about entirely avoidable spoilers that they'd need to go out of their way to view should maybe just exercise a little self control. All of which is to say our Fallout 4 review will be mostly spoiler free, but will probably at least contain the barebones setup of the plot. That's okay, right?</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://36646d87786feafc0611-0338bbbce19fc98919c6293def4c5554.r0.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/95kJbKWVQCmX.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/a_ukDUFiqJcH.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Highs Lows Crush"></p><p> <strong>Wes Fenlon: Activision paid how much for what?</strong> <br> I may be wrong about this, but I don’t think Candy Crush Saga is worth 5.9 billion dollars, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/activision-just-spent-billions-of-dollars-on-candy-crush-studio-king-digital/">which Activision paid to buy for its developer this past week</a>. I’m definitely not wrong about this part: Candy Crush Saga should not be worth $5.9 billion. I’ve lived in San Francisco long enough, and written about technology long enough, to be keenly aware of the cycle: mobile companies and startup companies get huge valuations based on their numbers of users, millions of dollars in VC backing...and usually end up being a flash in the pan. It’s the Zynga effect. Profits or revenue may look amazing for a few years, but eventually your audience moves on to more substantial stuff.</p><p> Activision is pretty good at making money, so maybe this is a wise investment on their part. But $5.9 billion for a company that makes Match 3 games? C’mon. They’re not even as good as Puzzle Fighter.</p><p> <strong>Tom Senior: Paragon</strong> <br> If you’re going to announce a game in 2015, you’re going to have to do better than <a href="https://www.epicgames.com/paragon/hero/twinblast/">a video</a> slowly panning around an anonymous man with guns. And yet that’s the opening gambit of Epic’s new game, Paragon. You also have the opportunity to click through the website unlocking in-game items for a game that hasn’t been detailed in the slightest. How about “Reverberate”? Is it a gun? An item? And ability? All I know is that it does “Damage + Bonus vs. Shielded Targets”&mdash;yay?</p><p> Will we be buying these items in the game? Who knows, but with nothing to go on, players start to assume. As we saw with Evolve earlier this year, if most of the materials released about the game seem to be about monetisation rather than the game itself, mistrust starts to form. I’m interested in a new shooter from Epic, hopefully we’ll actually see it soon.</p><p> <img data-fullimage-src="http://0cb8dd5d2dc142d08f0f-eb3b436d25971e5860b39e72b0600342.r94.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/fw71N5mXTRO7.jpg" src="http://ec0c5a7f741a6f3bff65-dd07187202f57fa404a8f047da2bcff5.r85.cf1.rackcdn.com/images/VkWIKc1N_TFS.878x0.Z-Z96KYq.jpg" alt="Banshee"></p><p> <strong>Chris Livingston: Blandshee</strong> <br> I'd heard some good things about Banshee, a Cinemax TV series about to enter its fourth season about an ex-con posing as a small-town sheriff. Since the first season was free to watch on Amazon Prime, I decided to check it out. And boy, do I not like it at all, mainly due to the lead character, the antihero passing himself off as lawman Lucas Hood. The problem? In almost every respect, he's a video game character.</p><p> You know, <em>that </em>video game character, the protagonist of so many games. He's gruff. He's bitter. He's laconic. He's got a close-cropped haircut and is always sporting three days worth of stubble. He's super tough and danger just makes him angrily grin in the way that says "Oh, three guys pointing guns at me? How funny. In a moment there will be no guys pointing guns at me because I will have punched them unconscious." Most of all, he doesn't have a single ounce of charisma or personality. Granted, I'm only a few episodes in, so maybe it gets better. At the moment, though, if you truly want to see a video game protagonist made flesh and blood, check out Banshee. All that's missing is the HUD.</p><p> <strong>James Davenport: Grumpy Blizzard Boy</strong> <br> I’m not big on Blizzard games. This isn’t to say I don’t like them&mdash;put down those pitchforks, please. I’ve played a decent amount of Diablo, WoW, and have dabbled in the rest, I just don’t typically stick with them because I’m not into that distinct Blizzard aesthetic. Everything flashes when you do something ‘good’, things explode (in confetti and/or guts) often, and there are high quality sound effects aplenty to really squeeze every last drop of serotonin out of our media-blind head mush. More so than most games, I feel as if I’m being exploited for my love of bubble wrap and all things shiny.</p><p> The production is so overwrought and obvious in Blizzard games that it’s started to feel like self-parody. Again, I think the games themselves are fun, they just make me uncomfortable. And with Overwatch on the way, I’m especially worried. The game looks right up my alley. I love team-based shooters with a hefty amount of variation in play styles and Overwatch has a ton of different characters. What worries me is that my distrust of the presentation will color my overall feelings on the game. Anytime I’m inundated with flashes, bars filling, XP rewards, sound effects, and so on, I start to question why I’m chasing the carrot on the stick. In some games, it’s easier to ignore or accept. But when I get the impulse to buy a few Hearthstone card packs once a week now, I can’t help but question what the hell is going on in those games. I don’t even play Hearthstone. Could be that I’m just more easily influenced by some media than I thought, or I have a bit of anxiety about not being part of these huge swaths of gaming culture, but just for the Highs and Lows, I’ll let my cynical side breathe a bit. Blizzard-<em>schmizzard</em>, am I right? (Have fun at BlizzCon, Tim and Tom!&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/blizzcon/" target="_blank">Read our coverage of the event</a>, if you dare.)</p> The best puzzle games on PChttp://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-puzzle-games-2/Stump yourself with our favorite puzzlers.Fri, 06 Nov 2015 23:00:00 +0000http://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-puzzle-games-2/Puzzle