Oculus VR hires Valve VR expert Michael Abrash as chief scientist

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Wes Fenlon at

Three days after Oculus announced that it was being purchased by Facebook for $2 billion, the VR company has hired programmer Michael Abrash, who has worked at Valve since 2011. Abrash has been working on Valve's virtual reality technology for the last couple years, and regularly posts deep technical discussions of VR on his blog. Abrash is joining Oculus as Chief Scientist, and in his introductory post on Oculus' website, he cites the Facebook acquisition--and Facebook's deep pockets--as "the final piece of the puzzle" necessary for VR to achieve greatness.


Company of Heroes 2: The Western Front Armies standalone expansion due in June

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Tom Senior at

Company of Heroes 2 is returning to the setting of Company of Heroes 1 with The Western Front Armies, a standalone expansion that's coming out in June for $20. It includes two armies: the US forces and the German Oberkommando and eight new multiplayer maps set in the green, unfrozen lands of the Western Front. There are no single player missions or Theater of war Scenarios mentioned, so it looks like an expansion designed to feed the multiplayer scene, which has been quietly warring away since launch last year.


Flockers is a new Lemmings-style game from Worms studio, Team 17

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Tom Senior at

Team 17's press release describes this as "a twisted blend of Lemmings’ inspired gameplay and Tim Burton style macabre", which suggests a) we'll be guiding queues of suicidal sheep around giant mincing death-traps and b) Helena Bonham Carter will be in it somewhere. It's the first non-Worms game from Team 17 since their top-down shootery Alien Breed games, which had the misfortune of being released alongside Valve's free and superior Alien Swarm. Can nostalgia and a touch of dark humour bring them more luck?


Who is the Arkham Knight? 6 mad theories about the villain's identity

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PC Gamer at

In the newly-revealed Batman: Arkham Knight, Rocksteady unveiled a mysterious brand-new villain who’s actually called the Arkham Knight. But who is this enigmatic robo-Batman with a hint of blue in his armour? Dark Knight aficionados Chris Thursten and Samuel Roberts highlight the most likely candidates from their disgustingly rich knowledge of DC lore.


Galactic Civilizations 3 alpha costs $100, how much is too much for early access?

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Tom Senior at

I like galactic conquest, devastating AI and overbearing tech trees, so I'm very excited about Galactic Civilizations 3. Not excited enough to pay the £76 / $100 asking price for the Founder's Elite version, however, which has been placed on Steam and the GalCiv site with some pretty major caveats from the developers. They warn that "major systems are unfinished and content is severely limited" and, remarkably, say "please be aware that the game isn't actually, well, fun yet."


Beyond Maxwell: Nvidia announce their next next-gen Pascal GPU

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Dave James at

Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference keynote was full of announcements this week. In addition to revealing the $3000 Titan Z, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang updated Nvidia's graphics architecture roadmap with a first look at the Pascal GPU.


Dead Space is free on Origin until May

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Omri Petitte at

EA doesn't want your money anymore. Well, it does, but mostly for its newer and shinier selections. Starting today, the publisher will choose one older game from its library and offer it On the House, a new Origin category for games available free of charge. First up: Visceral's disturb-tastic Dead Space.


Elder Scrolls Online end-game content options explained in new developer post

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Ian Birnbaum at

After teasing most of us (and horrifying some of us) for what seems like ages, Elder Scrolls Online will finally launch in just eight short days on April 4. If I’m any judge, barely 48 hours after that, someone, somewhere, will hit the level 50 experience cap and lord it over the rest of us. For the dedicated, a new blog post at the ESO website details the many ways we’ll be able to explore Tamriel after our journey through the levels is complete.


Enemy Front gameplay trailer focuses on sneaking, sniping

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Emanuel Maiberg at

There was a time when we were overwhelmed with World War II first-person shooters. Now it feels like we’re overwhelmed with modern military shooters, and I’m about ready to head back to WWII’s familiar battlefields with new graphics and new ideas. Namco Bandai’s and CI Games’ Enemy Front seems like will offer just that kind of ride.


Watch Dogs gameplay trailer calls Chicago a "hyper-connected playground"

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Omri Petitte at

Hey, who watches the watch dogs anyway? Ubisoft is hoping the answer is you, and is offering a new trailer as temptation. Having re-emerged from extended development, Watch Dogs' biggest hook remains its fully explorable modern city – Chicago – which comes complete with the horseless carriages not found in its stablemate Assassin's Creed series, and a vast electronic surveillance system just begging for a morally ambiguous vigilante to muck about with.


FTL: Advanced Edition out April 3

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Emanuel Maiberg at

Subset Games has announced on Twitter that FTL: Advanced Edition will release on April 3. The new edition of the game will release on iPad for $10 on the same day, but will be offered as a free upgrade to those who already own the original game on PC. As you should.


Arma 3 brings out the guerrillas in new community guide

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Patrick Carlson at

Our companion to most things Arma 3 over the last year, Andrew "Dslyecxi" Gluck, is back with another patented community guide. This time, we're treated to tactics in the military sim that favor the off-beat, underdog approach of guerrilla warfare.


Cliff Bleszinski defends Oculus-Facebook deal, calls Notch "pouty kid"

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Emanuel Maiberg at

In addition to making the Unreal series, Cliff Bleszinski is also an investor in Oculus VR. He admits in a recent blog post that, as an early investor in the company, he stands  to make a lot of money from Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition. But he also thinks the deal is great for Oculus VR overall.


EverQuest Next Landmark now just Landmark, enters untamed lands of closed beta

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Omri Petitte at

EverQuest Next Landmark has finally gathered enough materials to craft a claim flag for the verdant closed beta countryside—right on schedule—taking a continent-sized destruction tool to the alpha period's constructions to prepare for the next phase of Sony Online's sandbox MMO. It's also taking on a new name for its travels: just call it Landmark now.

Three Lane Highway: four and a half shocking Dota facts they don't want you to know

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Chris Thursten at

Three Lane Highway is Chris' sometimes earnest, sometimes silly column about Dota 2.

Dota 2 is a complicated game. Everybody knows that. It's so complicated that nobody understands it completely, and that's why we surround ourselves with experts who are able to pierce through Dota's thick fog of mechanical noise to deliver sound commentary and guidance. Today, I am your guide. Tens of minutes have been invested in bringing you the following Dota secrets: cold scientific facts that they don't want you to know.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter interactive 3D scans are astonishingly realistic

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Phil Savage at

Tim's already told you why The Vanishing of Ethan Carter looks as good as it does. But as impressive as their photogrammetry looks in still pictures, it's the raw scans that really show how absurdly realistic the method can be. As proof, you need to see, admire and play with the collection of scanned 3D models released by dev team The Astronauts and embedded below. I guarantee it contains the sexiest moss you'll see all day.


Civilization 5 mod brings Blizzard's all-stars to turn-based strategy

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Phil Savage at

I understand the desire for a lore-bending battle royale between Blizzard's various franchises. I also understand the desire for that all-star showdown to not take the form of a lane-pushing game. While Blizzard aren't about to create a 4X strategy, modders can certainly shoehorn their characters into an existing one. That's what has happened in Blizzard Allstars, which brings multiple of their factions into turn-based empire-'em-up Civilization 5: Gods & Kings.


Duke Nukem lawsuit continues: 3D Realms deny Gearbox's allegations

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Phil Savage at

If Duke Nukem were real, he'd be loving this legal stand-off. As a stuck-in-the-past relic, one only recently dragged out of retirement for an ill-advised comeback, I'm sure the attention would be most welcome. The latest development comes in direct response to Gearbox's lawsuit, which claimed that 3D Realms and Interceptor were violating their Duke restraining order intellectual property. 3D Realms have issued a statement that both denies the allegations and makes counter-accusations against Gearbox.


Torchlight studio's co-founders depart for "smaller-scale development"

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Phil Savage at

Two of the co-founders of Runic Games, the studio behind the wizard-bothering Torchlight series, have announced their departure from the company in pursuit of "smaller-scale development". In a post to the Runic forum, Travis Baldree revealed that both he and Eric Schaefer would be stepping down as early as next week. Of course, Runic were originally set up as just such a small-scale studio, but grew after the success of Torchlight and were subsequently acquired by Perfect World. And so, the circle of life continues.


Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls review

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Leif Johnson at

I can’t recall a gaming villain who looks as imposing as Reaper of Souls’ Malthael but leaves so weak an impression. He pops in and out as the narrative unfolds, spouting a few threatening lines before evaporating in a mist of gloom, and thus he recalls Blizzard's similar treatment of Arthas Menethil during World of Warcraft's Wrath of the Lich King expansion. But at least Arthas had the benefit of years of accumulated lore to support his cameos. The star of but one act, Malthael is never around long enough to make us care about his grumbles.