Men of War: Assault Squad 2 open beta available with pre-purchase

Emanuel Maiberg at

DigitalMindSoft's Men of War: Assault Squad 2—a follow-up to its infantry-heavy standalone expansion—is now in open beta, but you'll have to spend a little money to get in. The game's regular price is set at $35/£25, though it's currently offered at a 20 percent discount for $28/£20.

Company of Heroes 2 adds new server system and map in Aftermath update

Patrick Carlson at

Multiplayer lag is the primary enemy of Company of Heroes 2's new Aftermath update. Launched yesterday, the RTS's new features boast an improved server system that should bring a better, more stable experience to the online battlefield, according to developer Relic Entertainment. Aftermath also includes new combat balancing, a community-made map, and a more efficient surrender mechanic.

Dungeon Keeper free on GOG.com

Patrick Carlson at

If Valentine's Day hasn't already had its merry way with you, leave it to free games to get you in a good mood this weekend. In this case it's 1997's Dungeon Keeper and the fine folks at GOG.com who have stepped up to put a—hopefully—devilish grin on your face. The classic dungeon management game is free to download there through 10:59 GMT Sunday.

Starcraft II's 2.1 update rolling out this week, Arcade and custom games now completely free

Phil Savage at

This week's 2.1 update for Starcraft 2 doesn't rebalance any of the game's units, suggesting that - at least for now - Blizzard are pretty confident that everything in the game is OP. Instead, then, they get to focus on improving other key experiences: like music and tiny hovering clan pictures. They're also making a big push into another of the game's core components: mucking about. As such, the Starcraft Arcade is now available to anyone who downloads the free Starter Edition of the game.

Focus Home Interactive announces new RTS Etherium

Emanuel Maiberg at

Etherium is the name of a new real-time strategy game from Tindalos Interactive, the French developer responsible for Stellar Impact. It's also the name of the precious resource that fuels its science fiction premise. Stupid names for important resources is an important facet of all great franchises. Command & Conquer has Tiberium, which is thankfully less obvious than Avatar’s Unobtainium, which, unfortunately, is a term engineers actually use. So based on that alone, Etherium at least seems to be checking all the RTS boxes.

Oxide's engine tech demo throws thousands of starships into strategy battles

PC Gamer at

New independent studio Oxide Games wants to reshape the way strategy games are built. The five-man team—mostly ex-Civilization V developers—is building a new 64-bit 3D engine called Nitrous, with a focus on adding some technical muscle to new turn-based and real-time strategy games. The aim, according to the studio, is to help developers add massive scope to upcoming games.

Natural Selection 2 adds new...er, old Eclipse map in latest update

Tom Sykes at

If you played Natural Selection back in the day, you'll probably remember the Eclipse map, which according to its creators was "one of the greatest maps ever made for the original Half-Life mod". Well they would say that. Their enthusiasm appears to be genuine, however, as they've painstakingly updated Eclipse and incorporated it into the significantly prettier Natural Selection 2. In the spirit of jolly old St Nick, they've also released the damned thing for free. Launch NS2 on Steam and you should your game has been automagically updated with the new/old map, as part of the Build 262 patch. See Eclipse in all its corrugated sci-fi splendour below.

Starcraft 2's 2.1 patch enters PTR, brings Extension Mods and classic soundtracks

Phil Savage at

Public Test Realm is a great name for a patch preview server. It sounds grand and democratic, like the ornate forum of a philosophically minded republic. It's much better than what I'd have called it: probably Alpha Hovel or Beta Bin. Starcraft 2's own Trial Toilet has been filled with the first drops of the upcoming patch 2.1, giving players an early preview of a reworked custom map system, an event calendar for clans and groups, and a set of classic soundtracks, optionally enabling the tunes of StarCraft and Brood War into non-campaign matches.

Natural Selection 2 World Championship Tournament sees crowdfunding success

Patrick Carlson at

Indie shooter Natural Selection 2 will get a world championship. The FPS/RTS hybrid's community-led project has raised the full $30,000 it said it needs to bring 24 players to Cologne, Germany and stage an eSports event to determine a winning team. An ambitious goal, to be sure, but the money is now there to make it happen, according to the fan effort's official crowdfunding site.

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion encounters some Stellar Phenomena

Michael Jones at

Ironclad Games' Sins of a Solar Empire came out in 2008, and the space-faring real-time strategy game has since had three expansions—the last of which was Rebellion in 2012. Its newest DLC is a much smaller affair, but still adds new content for only a little bit of money.

Natural Selection 2 World Championship on the cards...if fans can raise $30,000

Tom Sykes at

Crowdfunding. Everybody's at it these days, and I'll tell you precisely who when the remainder of this post has successfully reached its whopping 68p target. UPDATE: thanks! Everybody's crowdfunding, but not everybody is crowdfunding an international tournament to a particularly excellent RTS/shooter. Natural Selection 2 fans want $30,000 to make a World Championship happen. Developers Unknown Worlds have already blessed the enterprise, paying for a studio in Cologne and Twitch TV promotion - that just leaves the cost of getting everyone over there. $925 has been raised so far, so there's still a fair way to go.

Russian government producing games to teach "patriotic" lessons

Ian Birnbaum at

Video games produced in Russia and Eastern Europe are nothing new, what with the Stalker series and Metro: Last Light. For the first time, though, we could start seeing video games produced in part by the Russian government to teach players specifically about the glorious history of the Russian military.

Universum: War Front mixes RTS and FPS gameplay, made by a solo developer

Ian Birnbaum at

Universum: War Front, a new indie game seeking funding on Kickstarter, is an RTS that lets you zoom down and take control of a hero unit at any time during battles. That’s a pretty cool trick by itself, but this game looks and feels like the product of a large, professional studio—no small accomplishment when the entire thing was written, programmed and designed by one guy.

Planetary Annihilation gets intergalactic lore download ahead of tomorrow's beta release

Ian Birnbaum at

Planetary Annihilation is still winding its way through the final stages of development, but lost in all of the galactic domination and throwing-planets-at-other-planets is the real question: what’s my motivation? A new update for Kickstarter backers details the lore and various factions, also known as the planet-throwers and the planet-throwees.

Budding artists can now tool around in StarCraft 2

Katie Williams at

Is crafting silly hats for Team Fortress 2 just not artistically challenging enough? It's time to move on, my friend, and reach for the stars—of StarCraft 2, that is, thanks to Blizzard's newly released Art Tools.

Hardware: Shipbreakers partners with Gearbox to use Homeworld licence, gets new name

Phil Savage at

Well this makes things easier. Between free-to-play revivals and Kickstarter, we spend a lot of time saying things like "from the makers of..." and "a spiritual successor to..." Basically, everything short of "look, they're remaking that game you liked, only they're not allowed to call it that because of law." For upcoming free-to-play RTS Hardware: Shipbreakers, it was the spectre of Homeworld that we were awkwardly dancing around. Not any more: Gearbox, the new owners of the Homeworld IP, have partnered with developer Blackbird Interactive to allow them official use of the licence.

Command & Conquer to feature faster paced matches, may have starter packs

Tom Sykes at

The free-to-play Command & Conquer will feature shorter matches than previous games in the series - though players will be able to expand them if they prefer the length of the older battles. Speaking to Polygon, Victory Games' Jon Caneghem said that "we've been noticing since the original Generals, the preferred play session has gone done from an hour plus to 30 to 45 minutes. So we've changed the pacing [of Command & Conquer] to deal with that". They're also considering introducing starter packs, which will give paying players something of a head-start in the game.

StarCraft 2 WCS premium subscriptions available as Season 2 Finals approach

Patrick Carlson at

As the StarCraft 2 World Championship Series works its way towards the Season 2 finals, a new subscription option has become available for the most enthusiastic supporters among us. What's being called the "premium subscription" gets you the top viewing resolutions through Twitch as well as a group of unique emoticons to supplement your fierce commentary in chat, according to a press release.

Company of Heroes 2 trailer provides recon on Langres - a free remake of the classic map

Phil Savage at

There's no escape. You'd have thought that Company of Heroes 2's release would have meant the end of its non-stop trailer bombardment. But no, Relic are refusing to surrender. Today's incoming media air-drop marks a free update, which brings a reworked version of the classic Company of Heroes map Langres - one of the most popular small-scale maps of the original. Remade for the Eastern Front setting, this new Langreskaya has been introduced with summer and winter variations.

Men of War: Assault Squad 2 announced, promises more war, men, squads and assaults

Phil Savage at

"More war, war men!" shout the RTS fans, who have become increasingly hungry for fresh humans to tactically expend through glorious battle. Men of War developers DigitalMindSoft are in the ideal position to answer these cries, and have done so by announcing Men of War: Assault Squad 2 - a follow-up to their infantry-heavy standalone expansion.