Missed yesterday's report? Read it here.
The bloodiest day of The International 2014 began with a run of the tournament's best matches. Then, after a run of upsets in a tournament that has been defined by upsets, one team emerged that will face Newbee in the grand final today. It's certainly not the grand final I'd have expected a week ago, and if you'd told me these results a month ago at ESL One I'd have called you crazy. I'd also have asked what it was like in the future and if you could help me skip the queue in the Secret Shop, but that's another matter.
Missed yesterday's report? Read it here.
Every week, keen screen-grabber Ben Griffin brings you a sumptuous 4K resolution gallery to celebrate PC gaming's prettiest places.
I know what you're thinking. Why, with all the visually incredible games around today, showcase an indie puzzle/platformer from half a decade ago? The answer is simple: this is a public service. Until now there's never been a single 4K shot of Braid - now there are 15. Think of me as a less skillful restorer of paintings. Here are 15 shots worthy of any museum—or failing that, your desktop wallpaper.
Hey, you! Space fan! Are you excited for Elite: Dangerous. Well stop it, there's no time for that—its creators are already looking toward Elite: Dangerous's expansions. Be excited for that instead.
Yes, despite the main game being in beta, the Frontier team are already planning ahead to Elite's post-launch future. In the latest news letter update, they've shared their vision for the game.
Damn, The Sims got dark. It's always been a playground for the sadistic, of course—for those who like to torment their digital charges with inescapable rooms of terror. But now, it seems, the game takes place in a Twilight Zone episode where excess emotions are punishable by death. In this 20 minute walkthrough of The Sims 4's E3 build, characters once again chuckle themselves to an early expiration. And to think, they say laughter is the best medicine.
If you missed yesterday's list, you can find it here.
Almost nothing today went as expected. Well, some things. As far as day two's competitive matches went, however, extraordinary upsets and out-of-left-field performances were the rule. Today saw the fall of former champions and the continued rise of teams that almost everybody had counted out. While the matches I've chosen below reflect the best of the day, this was one of those essential runs that bears watching in full and analysing after the fact.
It might have been rumoured for a while, but it's still unprecedented. Tonight at the International Valve took the lid off Techies, a DotA hero with a cult following due to his continued absence from Dota 2. Like Valve's other great unfinished projects - Ricochet 2, Portal 5 - Techies have become an event so long-awaited that it seemed like it'd never happen at all.
Every week, Richard Cobbett rolls the dice to bring you an obscure slice of gaming history, from lost gems to weapons grade atrocities. This week, as a few lucky people get a glimpse of the new Doom, a look back to one of the forgotten games that preceded it.
Very few genres start with their most famous game. In the case of shooters, Doom set the template that everyone would first wisely try to build on as far as style, design, deathmatching and feel, but it wasn't even close to being the first FPS. Nor was its predecessor, Wolfenstein 3D. Even without looking at other companies, id Software had two before either of them - fantasy-themed Wolf 3D predecessor Catacomb 3D (not the "Catacomb Abyss" series that used the same engine but was made elsewhere, as well as featuring the most eye-gouging wall textures ever inflicted on an unsuspecting world), and the super-miminalistic Hovertank 3D back in 1991, which had simple coloured boxes for levels and turned heads less for its complexity as its speed - something that Wolfenstein 3D would later weaponise.
But before that? Let's check in with Core Design, years before striking gold with Lara Croft...
Day one is over. Even though none of the teams in the upper bracket faced elimination today, success at this stage meant securing vast proportions of the prize pool in advance of the rest of the tournament. For the team that managed to earn their place in the grand final, it meant a guaranteed place in history as contenders for the single biggest reward ever offered in competitive gaming.
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.
Hexagons have never looked this good. Endless Legend paints a watercolor fantasy across its 4X strategy grid, and the pieces that fill those hexagons—distinct warring factions, indigenous races, fire trees and magical orbs and mysterious ruins—build a rich and deeply complex game world. Complexity is typically expected from 4X strategy games, but playing them before they're complete is not. And Endless Legend is definitely not complete.
What have they done? For years the Duels of the Planeswalker series has produced limited but satisfactory versions of the classic card duelling game, Magic: The Gathering. The ballooning success of Hearthstone makes this a great time to introduce new players to the complex, highly competitive king of the genre. Instead we get Magic 2015, a clunky, under-featured sequel compromised by microtransactions.
Giveaway: Win a SteelSeries Rival Dota 2 Edition Mouse and SteelSeries Siberia V2 Dota 2 Edition Headset
This weekend, the world's best Dota 2 teams will gather to compete for the biggest award in e-sports' history. While that life-changing prize is out of reach to all but the most talented of players, we can soften the blow with a chance to win some quality gaming peripherals and exclusive Dota 2 items. We're giving away three sets of SteelSeries goodies, containing the SteelSeries Rival Dota 2 Edition Mouse and Hell's Glare weapon, and the SteelSeries Siberia V2 Dota 2 Edition Headset and Scythe of Vyse weapon.
I can't imagine a combination of words more targeted to my interests than "rhythm roguelike". Maybe "chicken ice cream", but that would be disgusting. Crypt of the Necrodancer, however, is a sublime game—tying turn-based dungeon crawling to the beat of a Danny Baranowsky soundtrack. Even better, it will be available at the end of the month, with the Early Access version launching on 30 July.
The second GaymerX—the LGBTQ-oriented gaming convention—took place last weekend. In addition to workshops, parties and more Pokemon-themed competitions than you would think possible, the event also featured a number of guest speakers. Among them, Bioware's David Gaider, Jessica Merizan, Robyn Théberge, Karin Weekes and Patrick Weekes—who participated in two panels: "Building a Better Romance" and "Freaking out the Neighbours". Bioware have now uploaded the audio from both talks to YouTube.
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 4K screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: Cate Archer lives forever (in our hearts).
It's been 12 years since the PC hosted the adventures of 1960s superspy Cate Archer. Twelve years too long. If you've played NOLF or its sequel, No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way, you know why they're some of the best shooters of all time: smart AI, inventive weaponry, and an endlessly witty script. They were also some of the best-looking games of the early 2000s, which means they hold up remarkably well today--with a little tinkering to add widescreen support and higher resolutions. While the rights to the NOLF games have been lost to legal limbo for years, a trademark filing back in May could hint that they'll finally show up on Steam or GOG in the future. For now, the only way to play them is to load up a trusty old CD copy. If you've got one, it's time to Pixel Boost.
Unturned is a DayZ-style survival sim with a Minecraft-inspired art style. I don’t blame you if you’ve already tuned out. PC is awash with DayZ and Minecraft clones. But Unturned is notable in that it’s currently the fourth most-played game on Steam, beating Football Manager, Skyrim, and Garry’s Mod by many thousands of players—and it was developed by a sixteen year-old. It’s an amazing story—the kind only possible on PC—but is the game itself actually any good?
After an eventful group stage, the International begins in earnest tomorrow. Of the nineteen teams in contention for the Aegis of Champions on the 8th of July, eight remain. Over four days at Seattle's KeyArena, those eight teams will fight to secure the lion's share of the largest prize pool in competitive gaming history. The winner will take away just shy of $5m. But this extraordinary reward, most players will tell you, isn't the point. The International is Dota 2's alpha and omega: it is where reputations are made, where teams are proven. Many of the matchups you watch this weekend will never come about in the same way again; the stress of falling short at The International is enough to tear lineups apart and force teams to start over. This is the end of the biggest year in the game's life and the beginning of the next.
Often, before I begin a Hearthstone Ladder session, my stomach starts churning and my heartbeat races. I actually feel the same sort of nerves you might get before an exam. Or a date. Back when I used to do either of those things. And because what, I might lose a couple of ranks in one night? Who cares? Well, dumb though it is, I do care. I’ve got the Ladder yips, and I want to overcome them...
The sun rises over an empty arena. Two monkeys enter. One leaves. The other explodes. This week's free Steam key giveaway is your chance to grab Gun Monkeys, a multiplayer one-on-one brawler starring lovable but entirely disposable monkey warriors, trained to jump and kill with splendid guns. As always, we have a million Steam keys to give away. Get yours below.
That thing in the above picture is an SSD, and a hoofing big one too. The Plextor M6e is the first M.2 SSD I’ve had arrive in the office, and it’s a 512GB drive that aims to circumvent the limitations of current SATA connections by using the same PCI Express bus that's been providing oodles of bandwidth to graphics cards for years.