The Forest alpha review

Andy Kelly at

I’ve been playing The Forest today, and whenever anyone’s come over to my desk to watch I’ve been savaging an animal. Spearing fish with a stick, murderising turtles with an axe, and at one point I’d battered so many seagulls with a rock that the resulting pile of feathery bodies slowed the game down to a crawl. As I type this, it’s the second best-selling game on Steam. It would be the first, but a 75% sale on Injustice is getting in the way. Am I enjoying it? Yeah, but I think it’s important I tell you from the off that it’s incredibly janky and limited, even for an Early Access title. At this point in time it feels more like a proof of concept than a game, but what I’ve seen so far shows a lot of promise indeed.

The Stomping Land steps delicately onto Steam Early Access, offers multiplayer dino-based survival

Tom Sykes at

Rust toys with the idea of pre/post-historic man fighting for survival against the elements and against his fellow man, but what that really boiled down to was a bunch of naked men flapping their dongs around while battering your house down in an effort to nick your stuff. The Stomping Ground, by the looks of things, is the real prehistoric deal, pitting man against his greatest-enemy-that-wasn't-actually-around-at-the-same-time-as-him, the dinosaur. SuperCrit's game feasted on all of your Kickstarter money at around this time last year, and now it's appeared on Steam Early Access, dinoskin-cap in hand. Let's see how it's coming along, eh?

Minecraft Realms now available worldwide

Omri Petitte at

Mojang's Minecraft Realms subscription service for simple server hosting and parental controls has launched worldwide after beta testing this month, giving everyone the chance to sign up and use the feature.

BioShock Infinite's Columbia appears in the skies of Minecraft

Omri Petitte at

What if Elizabeth tore open a rift, but instead of yanking out a crate of guns or a Gatling-wielding automaton, she withdraws a square-shaped chunk of grass before chucking it at your face with a "Booker, catch!"? I'd sputter in confusion, but that probably also means BioShock Infinite's heroine found her way to the Minecraft-ed version of the floating city of Columbia. Constructed by architect group TheVoxelBox of the Planet Minecraft fansite, the city boasts superb detail and personality worthy of the game's best custom creations.

H1Z1 footage shows that, yep, it looks a lot like DayZ [Update: DayZ similarities addressed in Reddit post]

Tom Sykes at

The Long Dark's creative director reckons the apocalypse doesn't have to feature zombies - but, erm, here's one more open world post-apocalyptic game that does. As announced last week, Sony's entry into the DayZ genre is the wittily (if clinically) named H1Z1, a game that differentiates itself from Dean Hall and Bohemia's game by...well, that part's not totally clear yet, but it's been a fairly democratic process so far. H1Z1 game designer Jimmy Whisenhunt and technical director Tom Schenk took to Twitch a few hours ago to show off the game as it stands now; you'll find 50-odd minutes of walking, zombie-battering, scavenging and driving, in a game that admittedly looks very pretty but so far doesn't seem to boast any distinguishing characteristics.

Echo of the Wilds is a survival game, but not in the Minecraft sense

Tom Sykes at

Survival doesn't have to involve procedural generation, crafty mines or zig-zagging zombies - too few games concern themselves with the spiritual/philosophical/Call of the Wild side of living out in the wilderness, subsisting on berries and avoiding bears. Echo of the Wilds is one game that does. It's an adventure/survival game featuring a beautifully crisp art style, exploration and gathering and crafting out the wazoo, and a metaphysical story involving an incongruous TV screen and a semi-translucent girl. It's not another Minecraft clone is what I'm saying. Echo of the Wilds is out now, has a demo up for grabs, and can be witnessed in video form below.

Rust diary, part 2: "It's hard to kill a naked jumping man"

Christopher Livingston at

It's the dead of night and I'm in my cabin, which, at the moment, is essentially just a box. But I have plans for expansion. Big plans! Like adding a second box. Next to the main box. So it'll be two boxes. Anyway, I'm crafting with the spoils of my daytime scavenging and hunting. I've got ore simmering in the furnace, food cooking in the campfire, and I'm banging together some new building materials at my workbench. That's when I hear footsteps outside. They approach slowly, crunching through the grass, until they're right outside my cabin wall. Then they stop. Then... nothing.

Survive the horrors of war as a civilian in This War of Mine

Emanuel Maiberg at

War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing—except video games. War is the perfect backdrop for video games because it offers a straightforward conflict and goal that you can build a game around: kill the enemy. But as history teaches us, the real victims of war are the civilians caught between the armed forces on either side, an issue that almost none of the countless war games we play ever address. This War of Mine, a new game from Anomaly developer 11 Bit Studios, is dedicated to this issue.

Rust diary, part 1: "Frosh Man has a gun!"

Christopher Livingston at

By now, we're completely familiar with the basics of crafting games. You hit a tree until it becomes tree parts, then use the tree parts to build wooden things. You smash a rock until it becomes ore, then smelt the ore to build metal things. You meet a half-naked guy named Batman, and he follows you around for ten minutes eerily moaning, "Take me to your house. Show me your house. Show me your houuuuuse." Actually, that last part might not be common to crafting games. But Batman's weirdness is not that unusual in Rust, the early-access crafting survival game from Facepunch Studios.

Sir, You Are Being Hunted update brings tweaked variables, creepy landowner

Phil Savage at

A new update has been released for Sir, You Are Being Hunted. For many, that'll be good news, although I suspect the game's own robot hunters wouldn't see it that way. Not because they've been weekend - in fact their ranks have been bolstered by the new Landowner NPC. Instead, it's because the rest of this update is designed to improve the 'feel' of the game, which is something robots just aren't equipped to appreciate.

4,621 Rust players banned by new anti-cheat software

Tyler Wilde at

Naked cavemen can't fly, or at least, they shouldn't fly. In multiplayer survival sim Rust, nudity is encouraged, but using software to disrespect gravity, walls, or augment a human's natural aiming ability is punishable by permanent ban. CheatPunch, a new anti-cheat system described in yesterday's update notes, has already detected and banned 4,621 players.

Rust update throws out zombies, improves nature

Omri Petitte at

In some ways, Rust is like a big, pastoral representation of life. Your ramshackle hut, built through sweat and tears, stands for the your accomplishments. The weighty rock you use to crush an interloper's head like a grape? That's just being a friendly neighbor. And the zombies...well, I still don't know what the zombies mean, but they're pretty annoying. So much so, in fact, that Facepunch's latest update yanks them out of its sandbox survival-thon entirely—replacing them with less-stupid animals.

DayZ patch paves the way for more player and zombie numbers, adds new gestures

Phil Savage at

DayZ has received a new stable patch, although, in the world of early access survival games, the term stable is somewhat relative. The update brings some minor features and bug fixes, but the most important change is the continued improvement of server performance. Thanks to "a significant change to the server variable processing," the game's servers should have received a major performance boost. According to the patch notes, this should result in a smoother game experience and, more significantly, is another step towards the goal of increased player and zombie numbers, as well as the enabling of loot and zombie respawning.

The Forest screenshots set the tone ahead of upcoming early access release

Phil Savage at

Here's a new set of screenshots for the promising looking exploration horror game, The Forest. Yes, you may need to squint a bit, because they're pretty dark. That's a consequence of the eerie survival atmosphere that the game hopes to evoke. Luckily, as you can see from the previous trailer, that static darkness becomes a claustrophobic and eerie space when seen in motion.

Don't Starve will be Reigning Giants (hallelujah) this autumn

Tom Sykes at

Hungry hungry survival game Don't Starve is teasing a new piece of DLC, and it seemingly involves giants. They're probably going to do some reigning! Plus stomping, growling and being tall. You know, standard giant stuff. Those are some insights I've gleaned from the following Reign of Giants trailer, which suggests an Autumn (Americans: it's like your 'Fall') release, while revealing literally nothing about the expansion. If you want to study the 23 second video for yourself, you can do so beneath the giant's causeway I like to call 'the break'.

Midwinter remake in the works, Kickstarter coming early this year

Tom Sykes at

Mike Singleton's chilly post-apocalyptic survival strategy RPG Midwinter is getting an HD remake. Not familiar with the legendary (and now sadly departed) developer/author and his oeuvre of classic 8- and 16-bit PC games? Have a browse of his Wikipedia page. Not familiar with Midwinter, his ahead-of-its-time first-person survival game from 1989? Have a read of this lovely retrospective on Eurogamer. Midwinter's HD remake will head to Kickstarter early this year, and if all goes well developers Chilli Hugger Software are planning for an "early 2015" release.

The Long Dark survives its Kickstarter campaign, with three days left on the clock

Tom Sykes at

The Long Dark just got a little bit brighter with the news that its Kickstarter page has hit its $200,000 target. The wintry wilderness survival game has three days left to go, which should be just enough time for the team add a new Aurora Boreanaz stretch goal to their Kickstarter page. I would pay all kinds of money to make that happen.

The Long Dark: interview with Raphael van Lierop

Leif Johnson at

Raphael van Lierop may have never had to worry about surviving alone in the wilderness, but he's been close enough to sense the threat. Reminiscing about hunters who would accompany him for protection in college while conducting seismic surveys, he told me of tense months he spent in the wilds of British Columbia and Alberta, where news of grizzly attacks would sometimes drift in from other camps. Even now, working from his home on Vancouver Island, reports occasionally surface of unwary hikers getting lost deep in the woods.

Contagion Kickstarter funded, a "spiritual successor" to Half-Life 2 mod

Perry Vandell at

Those who sunk hours upon hours into the Zombie Panic Half-Life 1 and 2 mods will be happy to know that a funded spiritual successor, Contagion, is being made by some of the same people and will be available on Steam Early Access before this Halloween.

The Division: Ubisoft encourages players to sign PC petition - over 50,000 do

Phil Savage at

Two games at E3 occupied the frustrating position of looking Quite Good, yet only being confirmed for consoles. But where Bungie's Destiny remains tantalisingly out of reach, Ubisoft's latest Clancyesque shooter - The Division - has been more vocal in its teasing of a possible PC future. According to DSOGaming, the game's developers - while taking part in a Machinima livestream - encouraged PC players to "sign petitions, get on the forums and post their requests."