Galactic Civilizations III review (Early Access)

Richard Cobbett at

Alpha and Early Access reviews offer our preliminary verdicts on in-development games. We may follow up this unscored review with a final, scored review in the future. Read our full review policy for details.

The galaxy’s not very civilised at the moment. Admittedly, when it’s shared with the likes of the Drengin, that’s probably not going to change any time soon, but in the new Galactic Civilizations III beta, you enter a universe where diplomacy literally doesn’t exist. It’s a somewhat odd experience when you play like I do—aiming to establish empires based on mutual trust, brotherhood, and backstabbing with a comfortable advantage. Here though, right now, if you see an alien ship, it’s guaranteed to go for the throat, so you have to hit it faster. Not literally of course; the game’s entirely turn based.

Diablo 3 patch 2.1.0 opens a portal to the realm of the Treasure Goblins

Andy Chalk at

Where do the Treasure Goblins come from—and where do they go? Their mysterious ways have been a well-kept secret for years, but not for much longer: The Diablo 3 2.1.0 patch will allow players to enter their home, the strange region known as the Vault, where boundless wealth awaits.


Pixel Boost: Deus Ex at 5K

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month, Pixel Boost guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each guide comes with a free side of hi-res screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: Looking sharp, JC Denton. Real sharp.

It's one of the best RPGs ever made. It's one of the best games ever made, period. Deus Ex needs little introduction—since 2000, Ion Storm's first-person shooter/RPG has been the benchmark for open-ended game design. There's always a secret vent to crawl through, or a door to hack, or an NPC to persuade. Deus Ex's popularity endures to this day, and modders are still working to make the game look better every year. We decided to pay ol' JC Denton a visit on modern Windows and snap 33 5K screenshots. Here are the tools you can use to do the same.

Cloud Chamber review

Christopher Livingston at

A mysterious signal, possibly from outer space. The death of the person who discovered it, possibly from foul play. A database consisting of distorted video clips and scientific calculations, hastily scanned documents and blurry photocopies, scribbled notes and old photographs, all needing to be examined, sorted out, and puzzled over.


World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor coming in November

Andy Chalk at

With some spectacular cinematic sequences, Blizzard has revealed the launch date for World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor.


Intel show off DirectX 12 performance advantage

Dave James at

Gamescom isn’t the only big conference going on at the moment, though, if you’re into Witcher 3 footage, Tomb Raider exclusivity rage and Snake slithering onto the PC, it’s probably the most important. Still, this week has seen SIGGRAPH 2014 taking place in Vancouver, the 41st international conference on computer graphics. Intel has been there showing off how good DirectX 12 is going to be for its processors.

Using one of Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 3 tablets, rocking an Intel Core i5 CPU, they have been showing a neat little graphics demo that could have been ripped directly out of Elite: Dangerous.


Assassin's Creed Unity will let players "fast track" unlocks with microtransactions

Andy Chalk at

Microtransactions are an effective monetization tool in large part because they seem so innocuous. A dollar here, a dollar there—tiny amounts that nobody's going to miss, but they add up, sometimes alarmingly quickly. The free-to-play model is built almost entirely upon microtransactions and it's starting to turn up in major triple-A releases too, including Assassin's Creed Unity, which will allow players to "fast track" unlocks instead of earning them through gameplay.


Overkill are making a The Walking Dead game

Phil Savage at

Overkill Software—you know, the guys who made Payday and Payday 2—have announced that they're making a new game based on The Walking Dead. Described as a co-op FPS "with elements of action, role-playing, survival horror and stealth", we can only hope it'll better than Activision's attempt to turn the series into a shooter.


Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault announced, relives Battle of the Bulge

Ben Griffin at

Company of Heroes 2’s latest standalone expansion was described by Winston Churchill as “undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war.” Well, he wasn't referring to the expansion per se because Churchill is long dead (sorry to break it to you), but rather the battle it’s based on—the Battle of the Bulge.


Guild Wars 2 to get second Feature Pack update, is currently 50% off

Phil Savage at

Back in April, Guild Wars 2 had a break from its regular content releases, and instead received a bumper bundle of features. Now, ArenaNet have announced that they're doing it again, only this time it will launch in September. Naturally, they're calling it the September Feature Pack.

In a completely unrelated announcement, the game is also 50% off until 28 August.


Gamescom 2014: all the stories from day two

Phil Savage at

Take a walk with us through the Gamescom village. We'll take a left at the bickering businessmen, and a right at the friendly punter-filled pub. Finally we'll stop directly in front of a portly town crier, and stop while he bellows thick gobs of gaming news into our surprised faces. This is the news that he shouts.


The Crew gameplay trailer showcases modes and spectacular collisions

Shaun Prescott at

The Crew releases November 11, and while you may have partaken in the recent closed beta, that's no reason to pass over this new gameplay trailer showing off some of the racer's modes. It's a guarantee of sorts that during your travels across Ubisoft Reflections' interpretation of the United States, you'll be doing more than sightseeing. You'll be crashing into other cars on purpose, for instance.


Galactic Civilizations III Early Access beta now available, see it in action here

Shaun Prescott at

Building, controlling and wreaking havoc on civilizations is an enduring video game occupation, especially on PC. According to Galactic Civilizations studio Stardock Games, the third installment will offer more nuanced ways to do this than we've ever experienced before. That much is evident if you watch the beta gameplay trailer below, or else you could give the beta a spin yourself. It launched today on Steam Early Access.


CS:GO championship ESL One Cologne begins today

Evan Lahti at

Competitive Counter-Strike continues to draw a healthy amount of spectators as Valve’s FPS has grown significantly since the end of 2013. Following Katowice earlier this year, the ESL Championship begins 3 AM Eastern on Thursday, the first matches of ESL One Cologne 2014 will kick off in Germany, culminating in a final match on Sunday.


PC gamers have to fight for PC gaming, and Metal Gear Solid V is a big win

Tyler Wilde at

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is releasing on PC, and that’s great news. Rise of the Tomb Raider isn’t releasing on PC, not right away, at least, and that’s not so great. But what it does mean is that console manufacturers see us as competition, and we’re doing pretty well. We attracted a massive game with MGSV, and we’re scary enough that Microsoft has gobbled up Tomb Raider for the Xbox.


DayZ update adds two new villages, a World War II monument and new sacks

Shaun Prescott at

Development on DayZ may be undergoing an overhaul thanks to the confirmed PlayStation 4 edition, but Bohemia Interactive continues to roll out weekly updates to the Early Access edition. This week you may encounter two villages that weren't there before, as well as a new World War II monument in Severograd, which is pleasant.


Hearthstone Help: Top 10 new Naxxramas card combos

PC Gamer at

In this week's Hearthstone column our resident Legendary player is back to list his favorite combos enabled by the new Naxx cards. Because hey, who doesn't want to live the double Thaddius dream, right?


Legend of Grimrock 2 introduces Ratlings, a new playable race

Andy Chalk at

There are few creatures more ubiquitous in RPGs than rats, but it's not often we get the opportunity to play as one. And maybe calling it an "opportunity" is a bit of a stretch, but however you want to look at it, you'll be able to do it, more or less, in Legend of Grimrock 2, which today unveiled an all-new playable race known as "Ratlings."


Battlefield Hardline unveils 12-minute single-player trailer and new "Rescue" multiplayer mode

Andy Chalk at

EA's Battlefield games, generally speaking, aren't known for the strength of their single-player campaigns, and Battlefield Hardline looked set to stick to that tradition when it was first revealed as a multiplayer cops-and-robbers blast-fest. But EA seems determined to make single-player a relevant part of the experience, and the 12 minutes gameplay trailer released today suggests that it might actually be able to pull it off.


Unofficial Minecraft convention disappears with the money

Andy Chalk at

Mineorama, the Minecraft convention scheduled to take place in mid-July that was canceled at the last minute—and with more than $500,000 spent on advance tickets—insisted that it was "not a scam," and that another event would be scheduled to take its place. But many ticket buyers worried that they had indeed been conned, and it's starting to look very much like that's exactly what has happened.