Activision: pre-orders declining across industry, Call of Duty "not immune"

Tom Sykes at

Pre-orders are a great way for publishers and developers to get your money before you know whether a game is any good or not. In some cases, it's proved a successful method of funding (particularly indie) development, but when we look at the world of big-budget games in particular, it's a practice that has made increasingly little sense as a consumer, despite the adoption of pre-order exclusives to try and make us reconsider. Well, it appears these efforts have been in vain: according to Activision's CEO and president Eric Hirshberg, there's been an industry-wide decline in pre-orders, and Call of Duty is "not immune".


Firefall review

Phil Savage at

Firefall is a free-to-play MMO shooter with an emphasis on dynamic events, skill-based combat and desperate defences against sometimes overwhelming enemy forces. All of which sounds promising, but Firefall also features a lack of variety, constant busywork and a set of interconnected systems that sit awkwardly against the moment-to-moment drudgery of the game. It has potential. The problem is that, in almost every instance, it fails to meet the ideal it's trying to sell.


Mind: Path to Thalamus is a stormy first-person puzzler featuring lovely landscapes

Tom Sykes at

Following the decree that says that all first-person puzzlers must feature a tricksy metaphorical narrative and be scored by sad piano music, Mind: Path to Thalamus is first-person puzzle game promising both of those things. Heavy Rain-style dad-shouting aside, Mind also contains a bunch of stunning environments, impressive stormy weather effects, and lots of other visual/physics elements that should make your computer sing. It's out on Steam now, and I have two sad-piano trailers waiting after the break.


Mortal Kombat X trailer is a primer on the dangers of electricity

Tom Sykes at

Mortal Kombat X—not ten, X—features a guy literally (not literally) made of electricity, so it makes sense that he can channel it in a variety of interesting, albeit killy ways. In contrast to the relatively mechanically stripped-back Mortal Kombat Knine, X will offer several different variations of each of its famously gore-hungry characters. God of thunder and all-round Debbie Downer Raiden is being showcased today. Prepare for shocking violence.


Colin McRae Rally Steam release might not be what you were expecting; Codies offering refunds

Tom Sykes at

When something called Colin McRae Rally popped up on Steam last week, it was natural to assume that it might be an HD remaster or remake of the PC version of Colin McRae Rally 1 or 2. It's not. It's an updated port of a Colin McRae mobile game, lacking car customisation, a lot of stages and cars, and sporting an interface that hasn't been adjusted for PC. Before yesterday, the game's Steam page contained a misleading description that didn't mention the word 'mobile' once, but that's now been updated, at least a little bit. It still has a few misleading sentences like "The classic rally experience races onto PC and Mac". More generously, Codcemasters are offering refunds to anyone who feels like they were duped into buying something they didn't want.


The Stomping Land breaks radio silence; is switching to Unreal Engine 4

Shaun Prescott at

Crowdfunding is a good way to get risky games made, but it's also an increasingly risky proposition for backers. The most recent example is prehistoric survival sim The Stomping Land, which made headlines last week after backers complained of radio silence from studio SuperCrit. The silence follows more than $115,000 pledged for development of the title, as well as the promise of regular community correspondence and weekly updates. The last anyone had heard from SuperCrit was May 30.


World of Warcraft subscriptions have nearly halved since 2010

Shaun Prescott at

World of Warcraft has experienced a pretty hefty population drop since 2010, with Activision Blizzard announcing during an investors call today that the MMO currently hosts 6.8 million subscribers. That's nearly half what the MMO boasted in 2010, with 12 million active subscribers recorded during that year. Nearly a million of those have departed since July last year, if you compare the figures.


Here's when Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas' Military Quarter opens tonight

Andy Chalk at

Right on schedule, the Curse of Naxxramas Military Quarter is on the cusp of opening up to all. Blizzard has announced the launch times for the next chunk of Hearthstone content, so we know when each region will get the update.


SimCity free trial offer launches on Origin

Andy Chalk at

Remember SimCity? Specifically, the disastrous launch of SimCity, followed by a year-long slog to implement a proper offline mode that we'd previously been told wasn't possible? It's the sort of business that might have put you off of buying the game, even at the current, vastly-reduced price of 20 bucks. But if you're curious, you may now indulge yourself without cost, and without risk.


Evolve delayed until early 2015

Andy Chalk at

Take-Two Interactive has announced that Evolve, the team-based shooter being developed by Left 4 Dead studio Turtle Rock, has been delayed from its planned October release until next year.


The best PC joysticks

Dave James at

Space trucking and exploring in Elite: Dangerous. Dogfighting in Star Citizen. For the first time since the glory days of 1990s space sims, the flightstick is a must-have peripheral. An Xbox controller just can't compare to the feel of a flight stick and throttle, and you'll want every one of those buttons and switches for controlling a space ship or dogfighting above a Battlefield ground skirmish. We've tested out seven sticks to help you decide which to buy. If you're on a budget, never fear—one of our favorite sticks is a mere $50/£40.


Wing Commander 3: Heart of the Tiger goes free on Origin

Andy Chalk at

It's hard to be too critical of anything that's free, assuming that the free thing in question isn't actually doing you harm. So even though I'm not a big fan of Wing Commander 3: Heart of the Tiger, I can recommend it right now because it's free—"On the house," you might say—and it's probably not going to set your PC on fire.


XCOM: The Board Game combines tabletop play with digital enhancements

Andy Chalk at

Back in June, a man on the internet asked, "Why isn't there an XCOM tabletop game?" There is, as it turns out. But now there's a new kid on the XCOM board game block, and while I haven't played its predecessor and thus can't make any hard-and-fast judgments about which one is better, Fantasy Flight's upcoming XCOM: The Board Game sounds awfully promising.


Star Citizen hits $49 million in funding, Chris Roberts explains why that's not enough

Andy Chalk at

The Star Citizen crowdfunding campaign broke the $49 million mark yesterday, a sum that's especially astonishing because it's being thrown at the niche—some would say dead—space combat sim genre. Yet even with all that scratch at his disposal, Cloud Imperium mastermind Chris Roberts wants even more! Why? Well, because he's building a really big game.


Broforce and The Expendables 3 combine to form free crossover The Expendabros

Phil Savage at

There was an official game of The Expendables 2. Naturally, it was awful. Fortunately, for The Expendables 3, we're being treated to something good. The Expendabros is an official crossover between the increasingly tiresome film franchise and Broforce, the excellent run-'n-gun platformer. The ten-level tie-in will not only promote whatever nonsense plot the film has cooked up, but also act as a handy demo for the Early Access main game.


Nosgoth open beta announced, free weekend starts this Thursday

Phil Savage at

Let's play a quick game. Pretend your job is to promote a new free-to-play, team-based PvP game about warring humans and vampires. It's set in your typical medieval-Europe styled world. There is violence and dark magicks. A new trailer arrives to inform viewers of both an upcoming open beta, and a free weekend that takes place this Thursday, 7 August. Got all that? Okay, what music do you pick to accompany the trailer? If, for some bizarre reason, you answered "dubstep", it's possible you're the person responsible for this Nosgoth teaser.


The pleasure of space trucking in Elite: Dangerous

Andy Kelly at

You can be anything in Elite: Dangerous. A fearsome pirate. A daring adventurer. A galactic explorer. But I’ve decided to be a trucker. See, combat is not my strong point, and most enemy encounters end with me warping away like a massive space-coward. So I’ll be making my living in Frontier’s huge galaxy as a trader. It’s a perfectly legitimate way to play the game, and although not as exciting as dogfights and bounty hunting, is weirdly compelling in its own uneventful, slow-paced way.


Thief 2 HD mod is due out later this week

Phil Savage at

Thief Gold's HD mod is, along with the unofficial TFix patch, now a standard part of my elder Thief install. It's something of a no-brainer for the game's fans—offering a noticeably more detailed set of textures without warping the game's deliberate aesthetic. Hence my pleasure when, on a recent trawl through ModDB, I discovered that the team behind the mod are giving Thief 2 the same treatment. Even better, it's due out later this week, on August 8th.

Guild Wars 2 trailer announces The Dragon's Reach: Part 2

Phil Savage at

Those damn dragons, always up to their dragon tricks. If they're not hoarding gold or flying in circles near an ice-topped mountain, they're threatening to awaken and envelop the world in their evil shadow. You don't get unicorns pulling this shit. Continuing on from last week's chapter, Guild Wars 2's next update escalates the threat posed by Elder Dragon Mordremoth.


Resident Evil 1 returning to PC in remastered form, will release early 2015

Phil Savage at

My research suggests that Resident Evil's PC port wasn't an unholy crime against taste, decency and badly translated dialogue. Certainly nothing that would forewarn players of the horrors contained within Resident Evil 4's first PC release. Despite not being actively terrible, Capcom are fast becoming the remasters of unlocking, and so have decided give Resi 1 a brand new makeover for PC (and consoles).