Magicka: Wizard Wars giveaway - grab early open beta access

PC Gamer at

The splattery, explodey free-to-play multiplayer brawler, Magicka: Wizard Wars, lets you combine elemental orbs into devastating spells on the fly. Throw fireballs, create mines, summon a grim reaper and otherwise do terrible things to your friends. It's heading into open beta in just over two weeks. But why not take up your robe and staff right away? We've got 3000 keys to give away, each granting early access to the open beta. To enter, follow these instructions.

War of the Vikings leaves early access, launch trailer makes heavy use of the word "Viking"

Phil Savage at

"What do you think a Viking is? Bravery? Fury?" asks the launch trailer for War of the Vikings. In my experience of muliplayer combat, it's more likely to be teabagging and complaints about lag. Unsurprisingly, the narrator has rather more lofty ideals to accompany the footage of Fatshark's War of the Vikings, which—after six months sailing through Steam Early Access—has now been officially released.

Crusader Kings 2: Rajas of India out next week, alongside giant update for all players

Phil Savage at

Crusader Kings 2's patch notes are usually an amusing catalogue of historical rebalancing. As of the next free update, for instance, "hordes will be more prone to head in the 'right' direction", and "becoming infirm will abort self improval ambitions". But, aside from the mild titillation of minor AI tweaks, the patch will also make more dramatic changes to the game. As of its release on March 25th, the map will be revised, the performance optimised, and the modding scene given a home on the Steam Workshop.

Also on March 25th is the release of CK2's sixth expansion, Rajas of India, which - as the title suggests - adds the sub-continent of India. You can find more details of this paid-for addition through Tom's preview, or by watching these highlights of a recent Paradox stream.

Paradox Interactive is publishing Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity, will "absolutely ship this year"

T.J. Hafer at

Update: According to Paradox, Pillars of the Eternity is "absolutely going to ship this year."

Paradox Interactive has just announced that they will be partnering with Obsidian Entertainment to publish the Kickstarted RPG Pillars of Eternity, as well as, potentially, other Obsidian projects going forward.

Paradox, best known for their in-house titles like Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, and Magicka, has also published games from outside studios, such as the Warlock and Cities in Motion franchises. Paradox CEO Fred Wester said he's not sure what working with Obsidian might entail beyond Eternity, but he sees it as "hopefully a long-term relationship."

Crusader Kings 2's Game of Thrones mod to welcome the Mother of Dragons next week

Phil Savage at

"Khaleesi"... "Car-leesy"... "Kaleeeessi". Oh, sorry. You've just caught me practising my Jorah Mormont impression. I want to get it perfected before next week, when Crusader Kings 2's brilliant Game of Thrones mod will launch its Essos update. That's because the arrival of the Eastern continent will also mean the introduction of its most famous inhabitant: Dany Stormborn and her three dragons.

Europa Universalis patch 1.2 released, adds new features and cardinal mortality

Phil Savage at

A fun game is to scour through the patch notes for Paradox's strategies, hunting for things that sound funny out of context. A good time can be had by all. Unfortunately, I've not yet sat down to crack open Europa Universalis IV, so lack the necessary context to even parse this massive list of fixes. "Event 'Conservative Backlash' now requires idea divine_supremacy" might sound funny, but what does it mean?

To be safe we'd better stick to the headline features: new vassal options, new map modes, and an expanded peace interface. Also some key cardinal update: "Cardinals now have a far higher likelihood to die as they grow old," and "Cardinals not yet in the curia can now die." Take that, immortal clergymen!

Game of Thrones diary part six: staying alive in Crusader Kings 2′s Westeros

Rich McCormick at

Welcome to the Game of Thrones diary, in which Rich plays as Ned Stark and tries to stay alive in the excellent Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2. The diary may contain spoilers for Game of Thrones book one and season one of the TV show. Missed the story so far? Here's part one, part two, part threepart four and part five.

The king is dead. Long live the king. Wait, let me check that second bit: Robert Baratheon’s death has pushed his son Steffon onto the throne and thrown half the kingdom into revolt, offering me the chance to rise up against my Baratheon bosses. I cast my eye over Steffon’s stats to see if I should let the king live.

He’s an average commander, and already likes me. He’ll do. I enter the war on his side to keep him sweet – it’s the crown versus a few bitty provinces who’ve chosen their moment to wrest free of kingly control – knowing full well that I won’t commit any of my forces to the conflict.

Game of Thrones diary part four: staying alive in Crusader Kings 2′s Westeros

Rich McCormick at

Welcome to the Game of Thrones diary, in which Rich plays as Ned Stark and tries to stay alive in the excellent Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2. The diary may contain spoilers for Game of Thrones book one and season one of the TV show. Missed the start? Here's part one, part two and part three.

My wife is dead and I am sad. Catelyn Stark died last month, and Ned Stark – still ruler of the North of Westeros, and still alive at my hands – is in some serious mourning. Crusader Kings II codifies that mourning in the form of negative character traits: my Ned is now ‘depressed’, ‘chaste’, and a ‘widower’ – traits that conspire to make him about as fertile as a socially awkward panda. That’s a problem when Crusader Kings II’s explicit aim is to create as strong a dynasty as possible, and my eldest son Robb is useless in a fight, diplomatic or otherwise.

Ned’s sad right now but I’m confident, thanks to some Wiki reading, that his malaise will lift. I’ll get over Catelyn, shake off my temporary chasteness and get back to the business of making strong little babies to continue the Stark name. But to do that, I need a new wife.

Game of Thrones diary part three: staying alive in Crusader Kings 2's Westeros

Rich McCormick at

For the Old Gods’ sake Robert, can you please let someone else have some fun? No sooner have I re-rallied my northern forces (for the second time in as many months) with the express intention of crushing Mace Tyrell’s bid for kingship (also the second in as many months), than Robert beats him up in battle and puts him in his castle. The last time Robert did this, he let Mace go after a stern telling off, patting him on the Tyrell posterior and asking him nicely not to rebel again. Mace, being head of one of Westeros’s most powerful families and ‘Ambitious’ by nature – by character sheet anyway – immediately made another bid for the kingship.

Robert isn’t going to make the same mistake again. Out comes old headlopper, and Mace is no more, executed on Baratheon turf for his repeated treasons. My armies, raised from local peasantry and armed with northern steel – and some sticks and pitchforks – have to once again lay down arms and go back to their respective villages, their swords and pointy objects boringly blood-free. I feel bad. I promised these guys a war – several, really – but my remoteness in comparison to the rest of Westeros means I’m always the warmaid, never the warbastard.

Game of Thrones diary part two: staying alive in Crusader Kings 2's Westeros

Rich McCormick at

Welcome to the Game of Thrones diary, in which Rich plays as Ned Stark and tries to stay alive in the excellent Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2. Missed the start? Here's part one.

Ned Stark has killed hundreds of people – including, last week, one of his best mates for a minor transgression. But Ned always stared in their faces as he lopped their heads off, never breaking eye contact as their heads bounced around on the floor like bony footballs. I’m about to make him take a life by nefarious, sneaky means, and I feel bad.

Ned is boss of Westeros’s North, and looks after a vast swathe of land. But I wasn’t happy with the size of his territory. I wanted more for Ned. Last week, I decided he would do whatever it took to increase his holdings – even if that meant taking a life to get at that land.

Teleglitch to get "Die More Edition" upgrade and re-release

Phil Savage at

Die More Edition? Not likely, guys. There's almost no conceivable way to create a version of top-down indie roguelike horror Teleglitch in which I could die more than I already do. Unless this upgraded re-release packs in death so densely that it warps time around it into a constant nightmare of unending, overlapping demise... Wait, hold on. It's got new levels, items and a more ruthless AI? Okay, that makes more sense.

The Showdown Effect review

PC Gamer at

When the title screen introduces The Showdown Effect as ‘An Arrowhead game with references’, they’re not kidding. Like its studio stablemate Magicka, it’s packed with affectionate send-ups of pop culture tropes and personalities, focusing this time on the cheesy action movies of the ’80s and ’90s with only occasional forays into internet memes and bad CSI:NY dialogue.

Appropriately, it’s a mix of shooter, 2D fighter and um, platformer (remember that film where Sylvester Stallone did all those walljumps?). It provides support for up to eight-player brawls between an ensemble cast of Hollywood archetype heroes and thinly-veiled actor pastiches. It’s not uncommon to see a good cop on his last day before retirement going katana-to-katana with Liam Neeson, for example. For a gimmick, it’s executed with enough conviction to become genuinely entertaining – at least before the constant barrage of barely-applicable one-liners starts to wear thin.

Paradox cancelled four games last year, promises no more "unplayable" releases

Phil Savage at

In an interview with GameSpy, Paradox's CEO Frederik Wester has revealed that the publisher cancelled four games in the past year, in an attempt to ensure that consumers weren't paying for buggy or unfinished titles.

Wester's comments were in response to questioning about the much maligned alternate history Civil War RTS Gettysburg: Armoured Warfare. Wester said, "That was terrible. We did not do our homework. It was a one-man team with some backup... we learned a lot from that release. We've had many bad releases before that, as well, and we learned something every time."

Paradox Con round-up: CK2's Pagan DLC, Showdown Effect beta and... Brian Blessed?

Phil Savage at

Paradox's CEO, Fredrik Wester, has just finished delivering the opening press conference of the Paradox Convention 2013. Announcements included new expansions, a new game, and something involving the thunderous thespian Brian Blessed. Read on for a complete run down of the convention's revelations.

War of the Roses review

Craig Pearson at

I have an armed badger on my head. He’s a mocking crest that I added to my helmet to stand out in battle, so that the last thing opponents would see when they died was a wobbling, poleaxe-wielding melinae of doom. I call him my badger of dishonour.

War of the Roses, Fatshark’s third-person multiplayer knight lark, is a funny, well-crafted, limited little game where you fight for the right to make your knight look as imposing, or as ridiculous, as you can.

How to crush your enemies in War of the Roses

T.J. Hafer at

I don't want to brag, but... okay, I do want to brag. I'm good at War of the Roses. This came as a shock seeing how mediocre I usually am at shooters and deathmatch-type games in general. For those of you who might not be very proficient at simulated medieval maiming, I've compiled some tips to help you lead your chosen house to glory.

Dragons, werewolves and giant turtles battle in new Warlock: Master of the Arcane trailer

Josh Augustine at

I don't know about you, but I'd like to believe wizards can do battle without giant shelled animals bred for war and just choose to do so because they are well aware of how awesome they are. This exclusive new trailer for Warlock: Master of the Arcane—an upcoming turn-based strategy game with hexes, city management and wonderful warlock spells—shows some of the large-scale battles that'll be happening in the world of Ardania when the game releases next Tuesday.

The question remains, however: what other giant animals should warlocks throw at each other?

King Arthur 2: The Role Playing Wargame review

Duncan Geere at

I’m in a dank bog, talking to the ghostly wife of a Roman lunatic who thinks that he’s the Emperor Hadrian. I’m desperately trying to persuade her to make him go away. Where did my life go so wrong? I’m supposed to be the son of King Arthur, for the Old Gods’ sake.

Arthur is nearly dead, thanks to an exploding Grail, and so it has fallen to you to scour the land and unravel exactly why great big spikes have erupted out of the earth all over the place. Of course, by ‘scour the land’ I actually mean slowly turn a great big map of Britain your colour, because that’s what you do in RPGs. Wait, no, I mean RTSes. Hang on – which is this again?

Naval War: Arctic Circle surfaces on April 10th

Chris Thursten at

Turbo Tape's Naval War: Arctic Circle is set for release next week, Paradox have revealed. The real-time naval strategy game has been on our long-range radar for a while, but we weren't expecting it to sneak up on us so quickly - which, I suppose, is the point.

It's set in a hypothetical near-future cold war, where dwindling resources force the NATO countries and Russia into conflict in the far north. You control fleets of ships, subs and aircraft across vast swathes of ocean, and clever use of radar and reconnaissance craft will be key to getting the drop on your opponent. "Naval War: Arctic Circle is a modern wargame that reflects the reality of naval combat in the near future" says the press release accompanying the announcement, "where you could be easily eliminated by a 10,000 tonne ship you never even see." I live in perpetual fear of being crushed by a 10,000 tonne ship I never even see, so this sounds like the game for me.

Mount & Blade Warband: Napoleonic Wars features guns, bayonets, men with massive flags

Chris Thursten at

The Mount & Blade series has had a spotty history with guns, which is understandable when you consider that gunpowder was ultimately responsible for making both mounts and blades totally irrelevant. After the troubled Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword, Taleworlds and Flying Squirrel Entertainment are taking another pop at blackpowder in the form of this multiplayer-only expansion for Warband.

It'll feature five factions and 220 units, historically accurate weapons and artillery, and an engineer class that can erect barricades. You'll also be able to become a musician and play drums, fifes, trumpets and bagpipes - which seems like a recipe for getting shot, to me.