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Make horror games scarier with these three great headsets

Dave James at

I’ve been playing around with the Early Access disturb-o-fest that is Darkwood. Last night I had to stop as every hair on my body stood to attention.

That’s the power of a great audio soundscape, and of linking that up with a quality gaming headset. A decent set of speakers is fine for music and the bluster of a gunfire-racked war zone, but if you want to hear every little touch of a game’s audio track then the aural isolation of good headphones is impossible to beat.


Dominions 4 diary, part one: one monolith's struggle to become top deity

Tom Senior at

Dominions 4 is a turn-based strategy game about warring gods. Each deity commands a nation of beings ready to fight and die to secure their lord’s ascension, and each is borrowed from recognisable mythology. Greek centaurs battle the dark creatures of Nordish Helheim. Atlantean troops wrestle with the Lovecraftian beasts of R’lyeh. It’s as though a literature professor and a history professor got drunk together and started asking “who would win in a fight between this ancient cultural belief and that dark fantasy monster?” And then made a game to find the answer.

I’m going to win Dominions 4 as a giant stationary hunk of rock. Or try to, anyway. I could have been a monster riding a giant grey ape. I could have been one of three dragons. I could have been lots of things, but none have the charm and comedy sprite of the noble, silent obelisk.


Mod of the Week: CivRome, for Civilization V

Christopher Livingston at

Rome wasn't built in a day, but now it can be built in a turn. A new mod for Civilization V, called CivRome, lets you play from 323 B.C., the death of Alexander the Great, to 500 A.D., the fall of the Roman Empire. You can play as one of 22 possible civilizations including the Romans (Caesar), the Egyptians (Cleopatra), the Macedonians, the Goths, the Gauls, and even the Huns (led by one Mr. Attila T. Hun). There are new technologies to research, specific attributes for some of the civs, and a beautiful, historically accurate new map to conquer. In other words, it's a toga party, Civilization-style.


The PC Gamer Hearthstone tournament

PC Gamer at

Hearthstone gets its claws into you. Blizzard’s masterstroke is the way the game rewards you for a win—the shower of fireworks that springs from the screen every time you land a killing blow on the enemy hero.

The moment you start craving more of that experience, Hearthstone’s got you—as it got us. Tim is almost entirely lost to it, spending his early hours researching deck compositions. Chris played played 50 hours when he reviewed the game, before bowing out mumbling something about mages. Andy booted it up for the first time when asked to prepare for this tournament, hated it, and then saw the fireworks—and now he’s been sucked in, too.

The inaugural PC Gamer Hearthstone tournament gathers up all of that emotional and psychological investment, and pours it into a crucible of hot, middling competition. We can’t claim to be the best players in the world, but everybody here wants to win: and everybody who gets knocked out is doomed to spend at least 20 minutes sulking in a corner.


Saturday Crapshoot: Gold Rush!

Richard Cobbett at

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, can an enterprising soul make a fortune... specifically, by charging $10 for a 1988 adventure game with a remake already on the way?

Gold Rush! doesn't sound like it's going to be one of the odder games from the Sierra On-Line catalogue; the company that after all gave us games like Manhunter and Leisure Suit Larry 2. It actually just sounds like, well, a pretty good idea. What better historical adventure could there be than leaving one's life behind in an all-or-nothing gamble in the California Gold Rush at a time of great change and great fortune? The Oregon Trail was a staple at schools for a reason - the call of the frontier still loud and booming, even in an era of planes, trains and automobiles, and many other memorable comedy movies as well.

But then you play it. And in a word... whooooooooooooooooooooo!

The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Tim Clark at

Every Friday the PC Gamer team thumbs through its Filofax, coldly picks out the key moments from the past week, then makes an excuse about having to return some videotapes…


Into the deep: it's time to learn how to play Dwarf Fortress

PC Gamer at

The above image may look like a cat walked all over an MS-DOS word processor. What it actually depicts, however, is unspeakable violence and brutality. A field strewn with spent arrows, severed limbs, and pools of blood leads to the trap-riddled narrow entrance of an underground fortress. Corpses of elves, goblins, trolls, humans, and even dogs rot in the open air, slain in attacks on peaceful trade caravans. The inhabitants of the fortress do not care. They got what they wanted from the wagons. Any outsiders who happened to be captured alive in the cage traps will soon be thrown screaming into the open magma pits several floors below.

This is Dwarf Fortress: an endlessly sprawling simulator of procedurally generated worlds awaiting dwarves brave enough to plunder their precious metals. Simple graphics interact with the imagination to reveal more detail than the most vivid high-polycount game—for anyone willing to learn Dwarf Fortress's notorious complexity. It's actually not as hard as you think, and 2014's Dwarf Fortress update dramatically expands Adventure mode to tell sprawling RPG adventures with the same depth as Fortress mode. It's the perfect time to learn, and we're here to help. You'll be pouring magma on goblins in no time.


We're giving away thousands of Wildstar free trial keys on Monday

PC Gamer at

We found a lot to love in Carbine's bright, characterful MMO, Wildstar, when we reviewed it a short while ago, and there's a chance you might too if you take part in our upcoming key giveaway, which will go live on Monday July 28.


The PC Gamer Show episode 2: Pillars of Eternity, Fallout: New Vegas, Divinity: Original Sin

PC Gamer at

It's The PC Gamer Show! Episode two is an RPGstravaganza with special guest Josh Sawyer, who stopped by to demo Obsidian's Infinity Engine throwback Pillars of Eternity. The PC Gamer US team also discussed the greatest RPGs of all time, played some co-op Divinity: Original Sin, and talked to Sawyer about his time as the director on Fallout: New Vegas.


DayZ diary: the fishing trap

Christopher Livingston at

As DayZ slowly winds its way through alpha, we're finally beginning to see more updates to the early access zombie survival game, with new items and features being regularly added. Mechanics for hunting, fishing, crafting, and cooking means there are now new ways to thrive and survive in the post-apocalyptic landscape of Chernarus besides simply scrounging around in buildings for canned food or shooting and looting other players.

I thought I'd try surviving using some of these new tools. Instead of guns, I'd try to use a crossbow to take down some deer. Instead of peeling open canned tuna I'd try to pluck fish from ponds. No more cold beans: I'll cook my food over a roaring fire or gas-powered stove. Essentially, I'm going camping. Strap on a backpack and come along.


How to create SweetFX-style shaders that don't affect the HUD with Durante's GeDoSaTo

PC Gamer at

In 2012, Peter "Durante" Thoman wrote the popular mod DSfix for Dark Souls: Prepare to Die on PC. In April 2014, he wrote a series of articles for PC Gamer about modding Dark Souls 2.

About 3 months ago, at the same time as the PC release of Dark Souls 2, I released a new tool called GeDoSaTo. At first, it primarily focused on offering a set of graphical enhancement for DS2, but also supported downsampling in a limited set of DirectX 9 games. Since then, its scope and applicability have expanded greatly. Dark Souls 2 is now just one plugin rather than the main focus.

And this is where this article comes in—it is not necessary to know any programming to make significant enhancements to specific games, thanks to the power of the generic plugin. The generic plugin offers all the widely popular functionality of injectors such as SweetFX—SMAA injection, high quality tone mapping, HDR effects, color, contrast, sharpness and gamma adjustments and more—but better, as it allows you to target the application of those effects exactly to where they are needed, while not affecting UI elements or the HUD of games. This article will teach you how to use these capabilities in your own games, and walk through the entire process for Mass Effect 3.

Gods Will Be Watching review

Richard Cobbett at

Gods Will Be Watching is a game about the fact that you’re probably not a psychopath, but that hey, sometimes shit happens. First scenario. You’re not terrorists, or at least that’s what you say. Your hostages may disagree, but as you tell them, you’re not looking to hurt anyone here. They’re just there for protection while your team hacks a government server.


Pathologic remake confirmed, will launch on Kickstarter this September

Phil Savage at

An announcement arrives. Where did it come from? A swirling void of unknowable madness? Skittering figures just out of sight? The bloodied heart of a diseased, living city? No, it was just an email. Fortunately, the contents of the announcement are more unusual than its delivery method: Ice-Pick Lodge—creators of The Void and, most recently, Knock-Knock—have confirmed plans to remake their debut game, Pathologic. To fund the creepy RPG/adventure, the developers will launch a Kickstarter campaign this September. As a teaser, they've also released the above image.


Epic share a work-in-progress Unreal Tournament level

Phil Savage at

Here's some "working concept art" from the upcoming Unreal Tournament. And it does look like concept art, thanks to the clean environments and stylised lighting. In fact, this is an early look at a work-in-progress level, and Epic are taking you on a flythrough tour in their new development video.


Steam Music moves into open beta, desktop interface now available

Phil Savage at

I've spent the last few minutes prodding the Steam Music beta. You can, too: it's now open to all who want to try it. It's, er, well basically, it's an mp3 player. But one that you can access in-game, through the Steam overlay. Yes, I know, not revolutionary, but there are a some reasons why it might be useful.


Interview: Cliff Bleszinski on Project BlueStreak, PC gaming, FPS design, moddability

Evan Lahti at

Earlier this month Cliff Bleszinski revealed his next project: a free-to-play, PC-focused arena shooter called Project BlueStreak created by Boss Key Productions, his new studio. Following a Reddit AMA that answered some surface-level questions about the game, I spoke with Bleszinski about what sort of shooter he’s hoping to create.


We're giving away a million Steam keys for GTR Evolution, with Bundle Stars

PC Gamer at

We're finishing our five-week, million-key giveaway bonanza with the fastest game of the bunch. Grab yourself a free Steam key and blast off into the sunset with a copy of GTR Evolution, the expansion to the lauded Race 07, which is also included in this week's free bundle. GTR Evo gives you a selection of 49 GT cars to drive across 19 tracks, and the original Race 07 package includes 32 additional tracks, including classics like Monza and the Nürburgring, and 300 cars to crash. If you've never tried racing games before, GTR Evo is a great place to start. Claim your free Steam key below.


Dead Rising 3 launching as Apocalypse Edition on PC, will include Untold Stories DLCs

Phil Savage at

Games have really diluted the sense of excitement and fear that should be conveyed by the word "apocalypse". Also from the words "dead", "rising", and "3". Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse edition should be an emotive name. Really, they may as well have called it Dead Meandering 3: Irritation Edition. Still, whatever the name, maybe its contents will be to your liking. Capcom have announced that all PC versions of the game are being upgraded to this special edition, and will come bundled with the four Untold Stories DLC packs.


Hearthstone's Curse Of Naxxramas - Arachnid Quarter verdict

Tim Clark at

The first wing of Hearthstone's single-player expansion has swung its doors open, and despite some connectivity issues we've cleared it pretty fast.


The International 2014: looking back on the Grand Finals

Chris Thursten at

You can find write-ups of all three previous days of play at the International here.

The fourth International is over. As a fan, there's always a hollow feeling that comes with this period - the sense that the last of the hype has finally burned away, that this event that has come to occupy so much of your time and energy has been suddenly brought to a close. Post-International blues are a real thing. This year, though, those inevitable doldrums have been compounded by a Grand Final that won't have been what many fans were expecting when the main event began. Below I'm going to explain why I came away from the finals largely satisfied even though I agree with some of the criticism, and what I think the course of those four games say about the state of Dota 2 as we enter the next year in its life. Spoilers, obviously.