While multi-format publications froth expectantly at the coming release of a plastic box, we might as well laze back and enjoy a bit of strategy news. XCOM: Enemy Within is either out or incoming, depending on your geographical status, but if you're waiting - or just haven't bought the turn-based expansion - an interactive trailer takes you through some of the new features and mission types.
Rift - or 'RIFT', if we really must - is one of the few MMOs that still has a place on my hard-drive, even if I'm not actively playing it right now. It's a strange lesson in competently assembling a bunch of well-trodden systems, to create something that's both derivative, but likeable. Part of that good-will is the generosity of its updates and expansions, making it one of the few MMOs that could justify a subscription, back when it had one. In a recent post to the community, RIFT game director Bill “Daglar” Fisher talks about what's coming up next for players as they move towards the game's second expansion.
Wadjet Eye Games' rabbinical adventure The Shivah is getting an enhanced edition re-release next week. Called the Kosher Edition, the game features entirely new art and music, and will have presumably been slaughtered in accordance with the proper rituals. It's also being displayed in the shop windows of GOG, Steam, and the Wadjet Eye site, which should mean easy access and enhanced visibility to a great point 'n click.
Battlefield 4's first DLC map-pack, China Rising, is due out next month, and early details of what the package includes may now have emerged. A reportedly leaked image, published by the official Battlefield 4 Facebook page for Latin America, names the new maps, and provides details of new weapons and assignments. Unfortunately, it doesn't confirm what I'd secretly hoped: a Levolution event in which the entirety of China rises from the ground, and sets off on a mission to space.
A new Steam update will allow users to download software while playing a game, meaning you may never have to resort to other, non-game pastimes again. This means in-progress downloads will no longer pause when a game is launched in the Steam client, though this functionality can be toggled on a case-by-case basis if your internet connection isn't up to scratch.
Warren Spector, the legendary developer best known for Deus Ex and Thief, has a new job: director of the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy, a post-grad design school based out of the University of Texas in Austin.
Bloom: Memories is an ambitious action RPG that’s going to try to marry the exploration of Zelda, the stealth of Thief, and the living world of Harvest Moon. With a big emphasis on clever solutions beyond violence and a really beautiful batch of concept art, I’m not surprised that Bloom is already halfway to its $40,000 funding goal after only a couple of days on Kickstarter.
DayZ developer Dean "Rocket" Hall took to Reddit on Monday to discuss the current state of the standalone version for the popular Arma 2 mod. The final version, unfortunately, is still a ways off, due to Hall's insistence that the game needs more optimization and bug fixes before he's happy with it.
Names are important. Giving a name to a tiny, mindless unit in games such as FTL or XCOM: Enemy Unknown—and XCOM: Enemy Within, out today—gives them the importance necessary for permadeath to matter. I don't care if some anonymous squaddie bites it in an alien base mission, but I care a lot more about the well-being of Lt. Tyler "Maverick" Wilde.
Indie shooter Natural Selection 2 will get a world championship. The FPS/RTS hybrid's community-led project has raised the full $30,000 it said it needs to bring 24 players to Cologne, Germany and stage an eSports event to determine a winning team. An ambitious goal, to be sure, but the money is now there to make it happen, according to the fan effort's official crowdfunding site.
After seeing red it only makes sense to fade to black. Unity of Command is getting a new DLC campaign, Black Turn—Operation Barbarossa 1941, which focuses on German operations on the Eastern front after last year's Soviet-centered Red Turn. Although historical details behind the massive—and notorious—military action are well-known, it looks like the Black Turn's end game allows for a "what if" result.
My ministers are looking at me like I’ve lost my mind. The country is an economic basket case, we’re trailing in the polls, and my next policy decision is... tougher abortion laws. I pause for the gasps to subside, then, like a political Poirot, explain.
Restricting abortions will mollify the religious component of the party membership in preparation for next turn’s ban on teaching creationism. Returning Darwinism to its rightful place in the curriculum, together with a boost to science funding, will help address the ‘technology backwater’ situation that is doing so much damage to GDP. A healthy GDP together with some canny VAT and corporation tax changes, should, in the long run, equal prosperity and – pause to sip water and anticipate imminent applause – the voter support necessary for victory in the next election.
2013 has been a big year for Linux gaming. For the first time, there's a glimmer of hope for a gaming future for the OS. Games are being built in Unity, being sold in Humble Bundles (which tend to require Linux versions), and though it's more of a trickle than a flood, things are picking up a little. And then there's Steam. Valve's push towards Linux, with an existing Steam client as well as a Linux-based OS in the works, mirrors my own frustrations with Windows: I'd quite like an OS that's not going to completely change shape, size, colour, and usability when it comes time to upgrade it, but I'd like to have a supported OS as well. So once a year I'll try out Linux's friendliest face, Ubuntu. Is this the year it stays on my PC*?
My initial plan was to dual-boot my Windows 7 desktop with the latest version of Ubuntu. I have a laptop with Nvidia Optimus (it has two GFX cards: one Intel card for undemanding chores, then it swaps to the Nvidia card when it needs more power), and the driver support for that in Windows is a mess, so I didn't imagine Ubuntu mobile drivers would fare any better. But Ubuntu just didn't want to install where I wanted it to install on my desktop. No matter what I tried, it would attempt to squeeze onto a hard-drive that ultimately wouldn't allow it to boot. This left me with little option but to make room on the Optimus laptop and install it there. After a relatively painless few minutes, I was dual-booting PC with Windows 7 and Ubuntu 13.10. So far so good.
SOE have today released the first step of their OMFG (or, Operation: Make Faster Game) initiative. Performance Update 01 has just gone live, and it's changelist is a catalogue of tweaks, full of words like "optimized," and "faster," and "reduced". It turns out that framerates are OP.
Quickly, pile on into this post, where the armies of darkness can't see you. We're sheltering thirty minutes of leaked Dragon Age: Inquisition footage, smuggled out from the Finnish Digiexpo 2013. Watch it quickly, before EA's ever-watchful legal dragons swoop down and burn it to a crisp. In it, you'll see combat, dialogue, and a brief glimpse of the less litigious lizards.
I'm not sure how I feel about getting emails from Neptune's Pride. Dirty, I guess? It was a game responsible for some pretty reprehensible behaviour, as part of a month-long campaign of stress, plotting and backstabbing. After it was over, I swore never to play it again. Then Neptune's Pride 2: Triton appeared, so naturally I played it again. Now it's emailing me, seemingly for no reason other reason than to taunt me with a reminder of its existence, and to reveal that its developers are testing out 64-player games of mammoth machination and mental manoeuvring.
I'm being attacked by splicers again. I've got little health, no EVE, and only a few bullets for each of my four guns. I'm about to die, which is annoying, because I'd prefer to spend that money refilling all the things I'm low on.
Elizabeth calls out: she's found some EVE. I can use this. I catch a splicer with the Possession plasmid and, in the confusion, use my last shotgun shell to blast another. I then call for Elizabeth to materialise a freight hook, so that by the time I've Sky-Hooked (sorry, Air Grabbed) to reposition, my shield has recharged. I dismount, slamming into another splicer, and finish by using my buffed melee range to execute the last enemy, just as his possession wears off.
Bundles are so 2012. Okay, they're still pretty 2013 too, and the Humble Bundle organisers are planning to run both them and the Weekly Sale offers in future. Now, though, they've expanded their Humble enterprise to include a permanent store front, from which you can buy a selection of indie and indie-ish games. To celebrate the store's launch, they're running a sale that knocks 50-75% off the entirety of the (currently small) catalogue. More deals - and therefore more games - are scheduled to appear over the next few days.
Action RPG Path of Exile sees its first post-launch patch go live this Wednesday, the first update of seven planned before Grinding Gears releases an expansion in March 2014. While the 1.0.1 update includes its share of mysterious new items to try out, it's also set to kick off the free-to-play game's fifth season of competitive events, according to lead designer Chris Wilson.
Arma III’s release had its fair share of hitches, but it appears as though the bugs and optimizations issues plaguing DayZ Standalone's development are of a different breed—enough to push back the game's launch window.