75 more games have been given the big green thumbs up that means they're allowed to be on Steam, as announced on, well, Steam a couple of days ago. It's a list that includes the recently announced (Frontiers) and the long-overdue (I Get This Call Every Day), while reminding me that Catacomb Kids is a thing that I need in my life. You can find the full list here.
Welcome to the early access report, a regular round-up looking at the most interesting early access games of the moment. Here we try new alphas and revisit old ones to separate the promising gems from the bug-ravaged time wasters.
This week's report represents a spread of the type of games you find on Early Access: NomNom Galaxy is mechanically promising, but needing polish; Running With Rifles is already a good game and will just expand on the service; and Carmageddon: Reincarnation is on there despite needing more bodywork. It would't pass its MOT.
Hey, who watches the watch dogs anyway? Ubisoft is hoping the answer is you, and is offering a new trailer as temptation. Having re-emerged from extended development, Watch Dogs' biggest hook remains its fully explorable modern city – Chicago – which comes complete with the horseless carriages not found in its stablemate Assassin's Creed series, and a vast electronic surveillance system just begging for a morally ambiguous vigilante to muck about with.
Last month, DigitalMindSoft made Men of War: Assault Squad 2 available to those who pre-purchased the game. Now you can get into the beta with Steam Early Access. The game usually costs $35, but it’s currently being offered for $28, a 20 percent discount.
Games for Windows Live is dying, and few tears will be shed for its demise. But concern remains for what will happen to the GFWL titles that haven't shed it like a pustulent pimple by the July 1st death-day. Epic and People Can Fly's score-'em-up Bulletstorm is seemingly the latest victim in the service's final thrashings, as it's been removed from Steam (although is still available on Origin) without word on a possible return.
Yesterday, Valve released a Steam client beta update that makes accessing the services's “Virtual Reality Mode” even easier. VR mode allows you to browse the store, access your library, and generally use Steam with an Oculus Rift dev kit. Valve first added VR support in January, when it introduced the SteamVR application to the beta client’s Tools library. This recent update simplifies access.
It seems like Steam will soon allow you to report a product on its store page. According to a picture of a new feature posted by Steam Database, you’ll be able to report products for legal violation (using your content without permission), pornography, malware, and other reasons.
I haven't played Godus, but its early alpha reviews gave the impression of a title that was more carpal tunnel roulette than game. Today, the 22 Cans team are hoping to address those criticisms with a new "Beta V2.0" update that, they say, "substantially" changes the feel of the game. Peter Molyneux runs people through the update in a new video, explaining big added features like mouse-drag.
Ever since its open beta began in December 2012, Hawken's basics have been easy to pick up. Big, stompy robots shoot and scoot with agile dodges. The modes are a slice from the same shooter pie everyone's familiar with, and it's a snap to load up and jump into a team deathmatch in less than a minute. Maps paint worlds of well-worn neon-lit cityscapes and desolate badlands. Hawken is like the mohawked, studded-jacket-wearing punk brother of MechWarrior Online: a youngster with a brash streak, but definitely its own brand of cool.
Hawken's also growing up. It transitioned to Steam last month, moving away from a dedicated launcher and enticing new recruits with an Early Access initiative and a couple purchasable bonus packages. Now it's once again fully Free to Play. Two years of patches and adjustments have streamlined Hawken and stripped away unused features, making it easier to get into than ever. After two weeks of playing Hawken on Steam, I'm still skeptical of its F2P monetization, but faster-paced combat reminiscent of Quake and new mech classes kept me coming back for more.
GOG has reversed its decision to include regional pricing on some upcoming games, calling it a “mistake” after nearly 10,000 (mostly negative) comments poured into their forums. In a thorough apology, GOG co-founders Marcin Iwinski and Guillaume Rambourg write that they should never have made that call.
Sharing is caring, and there’s no better way to show your friends and family you care than to let them have a taste of your abundant Steam library. Today, after six month in beta, Valve announced Steam Family Sharing is available to all Steam users.
As our review of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance pointed out, we welcome games and franchises previously known as console exclusives to the PC with open arms. Bring us more Metal Gear Solid, please, and have Platinum port Bayonetta while you’re at it. Just please, don’t ruin it over a stupid technical issue.
For example, many players reported that Revengeance’s framerate drops to an unplayable level when the resolution was set to 1920x1080. Luckily, one enterprising fan has created a fix for the issue.
Steam has announced new Steamworks tools for developers that will allow them to discount their own games when and how they like. Developers can choose to participate in weeklong deals, add custom discounts, and schedule sales up to two months in advance.
New indie shooter Tower of Guns looks like it's custom made for the time-crunched, over-scheduled gamer. The FPS releases March 4 and offers randomized mayhem and challenges the developer Terrible Posture Games says can be accomplished in a single, lunch break-sized sitting. It also has a wonderful and vicious-sounding shotgun rocket launcher which sounds like a perfectly natural way to relax.
My favourite thing about the big Games for Windows Live shutdown is that it was never officially confirmed. While originally announced via a message on the Age of Empires Online support page, that update was quickly removed. Since then, the Age of Empires Online support page has also been removed, as part of Microsoft's apparent attempt to hide all evidence that PC gaming even exists. As far as I can see, this is all that remains of Microsoft's non-Windows 8 support.
At least that feeling is mutual, with PC games trying to hide all existence of Games for Windows Live. A further official confirmation of the July 1st switch off date seems almost unnecessary, especially given that many GfWL games are switching over to Steamworks. The latest to do so is Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. Its developers recently announced that owners can manually activate a patch to remove the unwanted client.
As good as the current crop of first-person horror games are, I sorely miss the days of tankwalking, fixed-perspective survival horror. Hydravision's Obscure was one of the better games not to feature the words 'resident' or 'hill' in its title, thanks to its near-copyright-infringing riffing on the fun teen horror film The Faculty, its well-meaning but not implemented particularly brilliantly same-screen co-op, oh and its giant evil plants. Giant evil plants! Both Obscure and its mechanically smoother sequel did see a PC release back in the day, but if you don't fancy paying over the odds for a disc copy you'll soon be able to pick the games up on Steam. No word on a price yet, but the re-releases will feature added widescreen and 360 controller support - which is nice. I've checked the trailer below and, phew, character Stanley's cheeky resemblance to The Faculty's Josh Hartnett remains intact.
Valve have released a new CS:GO 'Operation' pack, bringing unlimited official server access to a selection of community made maps. For Operation Phoenix, the maps were chosen by popular vote - and as such, round up some of the best battlegrounds featured in previous operations. Although, if you're anything like me, the quality is less important than the variety. When you're inevitably killed in the first few seconds of the round, it's important to have some nice level design to enjoy through the death camera.
Two days ago, Reddit user theonlybond posted lines of code from Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC), the software Steam uses to curb online cheating, accusing it of scanning users' internet browsing history and sending it back to Valve. Other users were quick to point out that the accusations were unfounded, but the discussion got serious enough for Gabe Newell to make an official statement.
It's been a long road, but four months after making it through Steam Greenlight, Ikaruga will finally land on Steam February 18. The shoot 'em up was first released in Japanese arcades in 2001. It came to the Dreamcast in 2002, then for a limited run on Gamecube in 2003, and then Xbox Live Arcade in 2008. A new set of features may help the Steam version find a bigger audience than ever.
Steam has a new feature. Users can now add tags to games. In theory it gives customers a new way to sort Steam's massive library, and lets the community collectively decide on its own genre definitions. It also forms the foundation of a new recommendation system that offers up tags Steam thinks you'll like. It offered me a "mechs" tag, providing a positive glimpse of how the system is supposed to work.
Unfortunately, almost anything can be entered as a tag, which has granted some corners of the gaming community the opportunity to graffiti store pages with abuse and massive spoilers. Anyone dropping in on Final Fantasy's store page will have a major plot point ruined, as will anyone who clicks to add a tag to Bioshock Infinite. Strategy game Supreme Ruler 1936 currently has been tagged with "the holocoast never happened" and "Jews did 9/11".