Updated: Dec 17, 2018 7:17 pm Eastern Standard Time (GMT -05:00)
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Monday, Dec 17, 2018

Anno 1800 Beta Signups & Free Anno 1602

Ubisoft celebrates 20 annums of the Anno series by giving away free copies of Anno 1602 for the next week, and offering signups for Anno 1800 beta testing, which should get underway at the end of next month. Anno 1602 is the game that kicked off the historical construction and management series in 1998, and you can get a free copy of that through Uplay on this page between now and December 22nd. As for the next game in the series, Anno 1800 is expected on February 26th, and they plan a closed beta test between January 31st and February 4th. Those interested in participating should sign up on this page. Here's the plan:

Today, Ubisoft announced that Anno 1602: Creation of a New World will be available for free starting today, December 17 to December 22 on Windows PC. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the famous City-Building video game series, players will be able to discover or rediscover this flagship episode where they will be able to create a realistic and vivid world entirely based on their imagination. In addition, Ubisoft announced that the registration for the Closed Beta of Anno 1800 is nowopen, registered players will be able to play the game from January 31 to February 4 on Windows PC.

For the 20th Anniversary of the Anno franchise players can play Anno 1602: Creation of a New World, originally released in 1998, for free. The game is set in the Early Modern period of history and invites players to discover an island world, to colonize and expand it and to trade with other islands – along with protecting it against potential enemies. First of a long series of a successful city-building video games, Anno 1602 was a Genre pioneer 20 years ago. Starting today, players can download the game on their Uplay account for free until December 22.

Moreover, players can now register to play the Closed Beta of Anno 1800 from January 31 to February 4*. Anno 1800 combines beloved features from 20 years of Anno history, delivering a rich city-building experience, including a story-based campaign, a highly customizable sandbox mode, and the classic Anno multiplayer experience. Anno 1800 will see the return of highly requested features such as individual AI opponents, shippable trade goods, randomly generated maps, multi-session gameplay, items and more.

Continue here to read the full story.

Get Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion for Free; New DLC Released

Get ready to check for fake IDs, as Stardock announces the release of Minor Factions, new DLC for Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion with 15, well, minor factions. This requires the base version of Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, and this RT4X game is available for free for the next two days on Steam for those who missed the last time this was given away. This forum post has details on the new DLC along with screenshots, and word on a limited time 10% launch discount. Here's word:

The DLC includes factions such as the Nilari Cultists, which indoctrinates nearby populations to accelerate their cause, or the Grost Scrappers Union, which can convert obsolete frigates into very profitable scrap. Players will also be able to recruit the Viturak Transport Cabal, who will grant access to some valuable black market Vasari travel technology. All of the factions provide abilities and advantages that are unique to their themes and roles, which include mercenaries, xenophobes, pacifists, resistance fighters, and much more.

Sins of a Solar Empire blends the epic strategy and empire management of the 4X genre with the fast-paced and tactical elements of real-time strategy. You are the leader of a civilization embroiled in a galactic war, fighting for the survival of your entire race against relentless foes, and every decision you make (and every second that you take in making it) counts.

Battlefield V: TTK TTK Changes

In a new letter to the Battlefield V community on Reddit, the Battlefield team explains they are reverting the recent TTK (time to kill) changes in Battlefield V. They had announced plans to add more core playlists with original TTK values, but have decided to just straight-up unpatch the previous changes across the whole game:

Hello Battlefield Community,

We’ve committed to giving you an update this week around Battlefield V’s TTK (Time To Kill) adjustments, as seen in last Friday’s letter to the community. After rolling out those changes last week, we’ve listened to your feedback, reviewed our statistical data, and have made the decision to return to the original TTK values seen at launch.

Our intent with the TTK changes was to see if we could evolve the Battlefield V experience and make it more enjoyable for new players, whilst also making sure the Battlefield vets have a choice with a more “core” experience suiting their preferred play-style. Clearly we didn’t get it right. Veteran players didn’t ask for the change, but as game developers, we took it upon ourselves to make those changes based on extensive data and deliberation. It truthfully wasn’t an easy decision for us.

Continue here to read the full story.

Get Geneshift for Free

Geneshift is available for free on Steam for the next two days, offering the chance to own this early access game described as battle royale turbo. This is inspired by Grand Theft Auto 2, and is played from a similar top-down perspective. This post has details on the game and the giveaway:

For the next 48 hours you can get a copy of Geneshift for free! No questions asked, just add it to your library and its yours free to keep forever. This is the base game, featuring the awesome new Battle Royale mode, where each round lasts only 2 minutes.

I'm doing this to build a playerbase for our multiplayer community. I also just want to see people play my game - I've spent 9 years on this thing and I'm really excited to get new players. So spread the word, tell your friends and hop on!

4 New Languages!
The more the merrier! Welcome to all Chinese, Russian, Portuguese and German speaking gamers. I hope you enjoy Geneshift! The game has been translated from members of the community and I am eternally grateful to them for the hours of work they put in. There were a LOT of descriptions to update! As these translations are brand new there might be a few errors, so if you find any please contact me on Discord and we'll fix them as soon as possible.

Complete Edition DLC
If you want to support the game you can also buy the Complete Edition DLC, which is 30% off for the next 48 hours. Honestly Battle Royale is my favourite mode and you get that for free, but the DLC has a few cosmetics and extra game modes you might enjoy.

Mortal Royale Early Access

Mortal Royale is now available for Windows on Steam, offering a battle royale game in a fantasy setting, as opposed to the normal realism of a genre where you build structures with your mind and can overcome heavily armed foes with a frying pan. This is in Early Access, but is free-to-play, so this can probably be considered the game's soft launch. This trailer talks about 1000-player melee focused combat, though it doesn't really show it in action. Here's more on what to expect from this:

Everything from the size of the playing area to timers and loot dynamically changes to best fit the amount of players in the battle.

Find and tame mounts to give you not only speed but a powerful advantage on the battlefield.

Scavenge the lands for armor, weapons,bows and powerful magic to execute the unworthy and stand as the final surviving champion when the storms finally ends.

Key Features

  • Battle Royale on a massive scale with up to 1000 players in a match.
  • Melee,archery,magic and mounted combat.
  • No registration required simply login with your Steam-account.
  • Deep combat system with individual hit boxes all with their own armor mitigation.
  • Hundreds of weapons.
  • 21 Different armor sets with 10 individual pieces.
  • 60+ powerful spells.
  • Free to play
  • Ancestry character customization with lots of options.
  • 64 sqkm map

Continue here to read the full story.

Bus Simulator 18 Free-Roaming and Sandbox Update

Steam now offers a new free update for Bus Simulator 18 that adds new free-roaming and sandbox elements to the Windows mass transit sim as well as the ability to put skins on Windows, which sounds pretty creepy without the context of this being about game modding. This post has all the details on the free update, and here's an overview:

With their sixth update for the popular Bus Simulator 18 the team of stillalive studios enhances the game with two new exciting game modes. The Free Roaming drive mode offers players the opportunity to freely cruise around Seaside Valley and explore the different city districts without sticking to routes and timetables.

The second great improvement is the Sandbox Mode – one of the most fervent wishes of the Bus Simulator 18 community. In this new game mode, virtual bus drivers will be able to access all city districts and buses right at the start of a new game without having to unlock them by completing a number of missions first. This game mode not only offers more freedom for experienced bus drivers to create their very own public transport company, but also the option to freely test the modding of buses and other community created content.

Evening Patches

On Sale

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Olena UUTAi Shaman lady. Thanks JDreyer. Don't eat the brown acid!

Free-to-Play PES 2019 Lite

Konami announces the release of PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER 2019 LITE, a free-to-play edition of the latest installment in their association football/soccer series. Here's a trailer showing off a bit of what to expect from this. The Windows edition is offered on Steam, and carries the following description:

A free-to-play version of "PES 2019" is here!*

Now you can play the Online myClub and PES LEAGUE Mode, as well as the Offline Exhibition Match and Training Mode all for free!

Create your very own dream team with myClub, where current and historic superstars can be signed. World renowned legendary players like Beckham and Maradona feature, as well as FC Barcelona's Ronaldinho, and Inter's Recoba, Cambiasso, Djorkaeff and Adriano. More Legend players will appear in-game throughout the year in myClub!

Aim to be the best PES player in the world by competing in this season's PES LEAGUE. Users will be able to qualify for global events by participating in the CO-OP (3v3) ONLINE Championship, time limited tournaments, or the newly introduced PES LEAGUE myClub 1v1 competition.

PES LEAGUE is an online mode which features exciting tournaments to compete against each other to become the best PES player in the world.

(*Offers in-app purchases)

Continue here to read the full story.

Tank Universal 2 Rolls Out

Tank Universal 2 is out of Early Access and is now in its official release on Steam, offering a Windows game which invokes memories of Tron and Battlezone. A recent "final" Steam trailer offers a look at the wireframe graphics that evoke that comparison. This post discusses the release, which is the output of a lone, dedicated developer, who says a patch or two will likely follow the release. Here's word on the game:

Inspired by the shapes and spaces of Tron and the gameplay of Battlezone, the sequel to 'Tank Universal' has arrived!

Take control of your cyber-tank and confront the forces of Gorgon in explosive first person combat. But remember, you are just one unit among many on the battlefield!

Key features

  • EASY TO USE FPS CONTROLS. WASD for movement, mouse look to swing your turret about. Easy to pick up and play.
  • UPGRADE YOUR TANK. Bonuses both permanent and not so permanent if you lose your tank in battle. Can you keep the same tank for the entire game?
  • EXIT YOUR TANK for a quick spot of repair or jet-pack to a new tank and take control.
  • ATTACK-DEFEND-CAPTURE. Take the fight to the enemy or defend your base from epic waves of enemy tanks and other vehicles.
  • CUSTOM BATTLE BUILDER. Select your battleground and the strength of the forces that are to clash. Then hit start to place yourself in the heat of the battle.

Continue here to read the full story.

Battlefield V Adding More Core Playlists

This post on Reddit is an open letter to the Battlefield community, apologizing for the long TTR (time to respond) to the controversy over their TTK (time to kill) changes in Battlefield V. It's not clear if these changes had the desired effect of making the game more newbie friendly, but they sure did alienate veterans, and DICE now says they will be launching "Core" versions of all playlists this week for core players:

Hi Battlefield Community,

On behalf of the Battlefield team, I’d like to apologize for the silence over the past couple of days on the TTK topic. We’ve seen it’s been a big talking point and causing a divide in the community, which was never our intention. We have been listening closely to what you’ve all been saying.

Changes to the game carrying this kind of weight needs clearer, earlier communication before getting rolled out. We will improve how we roll out updates in the future and respond more quickly when you have questions or concerns.

So, why change TTK now? The intent came from us observing that new players are having a very hard time with the game compared to our core players, and we wanted to see if we could improve this over the holidays so more players can have a great time.

As many of our veteran players know, Battlefield games constantly evolve and change over time in our collaboration with the community. Battlefield V is no exception. We heard your feedback that many of you prefer the old TTK values, with one playlist featuring only Conquest using the “Core” settings clearly not being enough. To fix that, we will be adding a “Core” version of all playlists in the game next week, giving you a clearer choice between new and old settings. We’ll update you early next week on when the new playlist will be added.

We want to hear from you about the changes we’re making. We’d also like to thank all of you for the constructive discussions and feedback we’re seeing. Thank you.

~ The Battlefield Team

BioShock and BioShock 2 on GOG.com

GOG.com announces they are now selling DRM-free editions of BioShock and BioShock 2 Remastered, and these come with a 75% launch discount. Word is the original "classic" versions of each will be released down the road as a free bonus:

The legendary shooters emerge from somewhere beyond the sea, dripping with that deliciously claustrophobic atmosphere of decay, corruption, and human ambition gone wrong.

Widely considered as the gold standard for story-driven shooters with light RPG elements, they have been remastered to feature higher resolution textures and models, director's commentary, and several other additions that ensure time will never wash them away.

Pump yourself full of plasmids, pump your enemies full of bullets, and dive right back into Rapture's beautifully rotten halls.

Note: The classic versions of both games will be added as a free bonus at a later date.

U.K. Sales Charts

GFK Chart-Track announces Red Dead Redemption 2 returns to the top spot on their all platforms chart tracking last week's game sales in the U.K. On the PC top 30 chart for the same period Overwatch makes a surprise return. Here's the top 10 from the PC chart:

POS. TITLE LABEL LAST WEEK
1 - FOOTBALL MANAGER 2019 SEGA 1
2 - THE SIMS 4: GET FAMOUS EA GAMES 2
3 - FARMING SIMULATOR 19 EA GAMES 3
4 ˄ FALLOUT 76 BETHESDA SOFTWORKS 8
5 - THE SIMS 4: SEASONS EA GAMES 5
6 - THE SIMS 4 EA GAMES 6
7 ˅ BATTLEFIELD V EA GAMES 4
8 * OVERWATCH BLIZZARD -
9 ˅ THE SIMS 4: CATS & DOGS EA GAMES 9
10 ˄ FORTNITE: DEEP FREEZE BUNDLE WARNER BROS. INTERACTIVE 11

Morning Patches

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

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Out of the Blue


Established 1995. Over a billion visitors since 1997.

Sunday, Dec 16, 2018

Artifact Updated

The Artifact Website details a new "Call to Arms" update that's live in Artifact (thanks Engadget). This brings Valve's recently released collectible card game to version 1.1, updating the Call of Arms event with new decks, a new random mode, and leaderboards. There's also new open tournament support, a new chat wheel (complete with options to not chat), bot gauntlets, color blind support, and more. Here are the patch notes:

NEW FEATURES (CALL TO ARMS):

  • Added two new decks: Death From Above and Dark Aggro.
  • Added random mode: each game you'll be given a new random deck from the Call To Arms gauntlet.
  • Added maximum win-streak leaderboards for each deck with Global and Friends filters.

NEW FEATURES (CHAT):

  • Added unit chat wheels accessible in-game. Every creep and hero has custom voice lines accessible by pressing 'Y' when hovering that unit, or by doing a long hold of the left mouse button. Towers and improvements also support the chat wheel.
  • Unit chat wheels have an option for custom lines to allow general in-match chat.
  • Added the ability to request a Steam Chat with your current opponent either during the game, accessible through their nameplate in the HUD, or from the end-of-match screen.
  • Opponent’s chat wheel messages can be muted, either through the in-game or through the message itself.

NEW FEATURES (TOURNAMENTS):

Continue here to read the full story.

Steam Top 10

Here's the new list of last week's bestselling games on Steam. In case it helps with curiosity or scientific analysis, previous chart positions are included in parentheses for the (merely four) games that also appeared in the top 10 last week:

  1. PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS (3)
  2. Grand Theft Auto V
  3. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege - Year 4 Pass
  4. Insurgency: Sandstorm
  5. Stellaris: MegaCorp (1)
  6. Farming Simulator 19 (8)
  7. No Man's Sky
  8. Kingdom Two Crowns
  9. MONSTER HUNTER: WORLD (7)
  10. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands

Sunday Patches

Gatherings & Competitions

Sunday Metaverse

Sunday Safety Dance

Sunday Legal Briefs

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

I'm getting a new Kindle this week, and I am quite pleased with the deal I ended up with. The new $129.99 model is on sale for $99.99, and on top of that, I managed to get a $20 courtesy credit from Amazon towards a new one based on some oddness surrounding my trade-in. Meanwhile, besides the $25.00 credit for my old Kindle, the trade-in also carries a 25% discount on the new model. When it was all said and done, all this combined to bring the cost of the new model down to a hair over $34. I think it's fair to call that one a no-brainer, and I'm looking forward to a improved experience of 300 dpi resolution. This makes the upgrade seem way overdue. as it invokes the dawning days of home and office printing, where 300 dpi was dubbed "letter quality." Recalling this made me briefly wonder why that term fell out of favor, and then it struck me that it's because letters themselves are obsolescent, if not obsolete. Guess there's no room to express regrets about that in a post about a new e-reader.

R.I.P.: RIP, legendary cypherpunk Tim May.

Kindling Links: Thanks Ant.
Stories: All I want for Christmas is the largest diamond found in North America.
Science: 'Young miracle': Newborn girl recovers from Ebola in world's 2nd deadliest outbreak.
'Planetary emergency:' After 30 years, leaders are still fighting about basic truths of climate science.
Media: Glass (2019) - Official International Trailer.
Backdraft in Queens. Wow!
What do you get a heroin addict for Christmas? Easy. A trifle edgy.
Follow-up: Romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak traced to infected CA farm reservoir. Thanks LinkedIn.


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