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Saturday, Oct 19, 2019

Crusader Kings III Announced; Crusader Kings II Freed

With PDXCON 2019 in full swing, Paradox Interactive has lots of news to share today. First up is the announcement of Crusader Kings III, a new installment in their medieval grand strategy series coming to PC via Steam and Xbox Game Pass next year. This includes word that Crusader Kings II is now free on all platforms, correcting our recent report that this was free for just this weekend. The Announcement Trailer for the new game is included, as are some details, and they promise to shed more light on the plan over the coming months. Here's word:

The security of a dynasty rests in the quality of its successors. An heir should be strong. An heir should be forward thinking. Heirs should improve on the oversights of their predecessors. But the most successful heirs are those who build on an already secure foundation.

Crusader Kings III is the sequel to the classic Paradox Development Studio game about medieval conquest, intrigue, religion and high drama. It is a firm step in the direction of a new generation of grand strategy games, with new 3D character models and an even more detailed map. Designed to enhance the experience of Paradox veterans while being more welcoming to young squires, Crusader Kings III is a rich setting for an infinite number of new stories.

Crusader Kings III is slated to arrive in 2020, available for PC via Steam and included in Xbox Game Pass for PC.

“Crusader Kings III is a grand medieval simulator where you are free to live out any plausible ruler fantasy that we could think of - but not without challenge.” says Henrik Fåhraeus, the Game Director. “Seeing its predecessor explode in popularity was very satisfying, especially considering that user friendliness was never our primary goal. Now we have a chance to address an even larger audience.”

Crusader Kings III is the ultimate grand strategy role-playing experience.

  • Shape Your Dynasty: Guide unique characters through history, choosing lifestyles best suited to their personalities and your ambitions.
  • Rewrite Medieval History: Dynasties will change and adapt to changes in family and politics, and religious beliefs are more firmly under your control.
  • Build a Mighty Kingdom: Use your vassals’ fear of you as a weapon or call on familial obligations to persuade reluctant relatives to submit.
  • Experience High Drama: Stranger than fiction stories leap off the screen, as characters plot against you and events push you to extremes.
  • Learn as You Go: Guided advice to help newcomers navigate a rich medieval world. In-game suggestions tip you off to paths you might not have considered.
  • The Usual Crusader Kings Fun: Keep a stubborn council in line, scheme against your overbearing uncle or marry the rich duchy...oops, I mean pious duke or duchess of your dreams.

Greater detail about the features of Crusader Kings III will be coming in the next few months.

Continue here to read the full story.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong Announced

PDXCON also features the announcement of Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong, a new RPG based on the popular World of Darkness property. This is being published by BIGBEN, rather than Paradox, as it's being created by Cyanide Studio, the French developer owned by BIGBEN. Swansong is the third Bloodlines game we know of that's currently in development, along with Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2, which was recently delayed until late next year, and Vampire: The Masquerade - Coteries of New York, which is said to be nearing release. Swansong is further off, carrying a 2021 release window. Here's what they reveal about this for now:

On the heels of Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood, Bigben’s catalogue is expanding its presence in The World of Darkness with the production of a new video game based on the famous franchise Vampire: The Masquerade. Already teased at Bigben Week 2019, this new game titled Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong will release in 2021. It will be developed by Big Bad Wolf studio, a narrative RPG specialist and author of the award-winning game The Council.

Vampire: The Masquerade is the most iconic role-playing game of its generation and sets the standard for many tabletop gamers. The first setting in the World of Darkness universe created by White Wolf Publishing in 1991, Vampire: The Masquerade transposes the vampire myth into modern societies. The player takes control of one of these immortal creatures hiding in the shadows of our cities. They struggle to control their bloodthirsty instincts by leading a life of both predator and outcast, in a world where the boundaries between reality and the supernatural are always blurred. Vampires in The World of Darkness are nothing like the solitary monsters of the ancient legends. They are superior and sophisticated creatures who live among humans behind a shield of secrecy: The Masquerade. Organised into complex secret societies, they create their own laws and are members of distinct clans with contrasting visions of their role in the world.

Thrilled with the success of The Council, Big Bad Wolf studio intends to continue specialising in narrative RPGs, a new genre that they are helping to define with their creations. With this adaptation of Vampire: The Masquerade, the team is working on its most ambitious project. The game will feature a strong story, supported by solid RPG mechanics that respect the rules of the fifth edition of Vampire: The Masquerade and the universe of The World of Darkness.

"At the studio, we're long-time and passionate fans of the tabletop role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade. We have wanted to create a video game inspired by this universe for several years now. This project fits perfectly with Bigben’s desire to expand its catalogue of narrative games. We are very happy to be unveiling it together," says Thomas Veauclin, Creative & Art Director at Big Bad Wolf.

"My past experience as an editor and author of role-playing games, and also as Editor-in-Chief of an RPG magazine, is proof of how important this project means to me personally," adds Benoit Clerc, Head of Publishing at Bigben." Just like me, many fans have been waiting a long time for a new adaptation of this cult game, which will be developed by one of the most talented studios of its generation."

In this narrative RPG adapted from the 5th edition of Vampire: The Masquerade, the player takes control of 3 vampires belonging to different clans of the Camarilla, the secret society to which most vampires belong. Weaving between their intertwined tales, the player has to confront the different points of view of his characters to unravel fact from fiction. With whispers of conspiracy, murder and power struggles, the player must protect his clan, discover the truth and above all enforce the Masquerade, the vampire law designed to conceal the existence of creatures of the night from humans.

Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood in Summer 2020

Here's more World of Darkness news from PDXCON from BIGBEN. They unveil a Reveal Trailer for Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood and say the game is expected for release in Summer 2020 on Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. The clip comes along with some scant first details on the plan:

Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood is one of the flagship games of the latest PDXCon. Presented on stage a few hours ago by Patch, Cyanide's Game Director, the fans of the pen-and-paper role-playing game learned a lot more about the game which comes out in Summer 2020.

In a very first trailer revealed in a sneak peek, fans were given a preview of Cahal, a werewolf who has been exiled for several years and who has come back to his endangered tribe. Endron, the oil-producing subsidiary of the multinational Pentex, is installing an extraction site and is destroying the forest around a sanctuary. At times a wolf, at times a human, Cahal can transform into a werewolf when rage consumes him.

Discover the game trailer that was presented exclusively at PDXCon:

Following the presentation of the trailer, Patch gave more details on the principal characteristics of the game. As a big fan of the pen-and-paper game, it's only natural that he became the driving force for this project within Cyanide. The video game carries over all the main aspects of the pen-and-paper game in an unflinchingly mature universe overflowing with current topics such as the destruction of nature by man and their machines. Rage, a central element of the game, brings a subtlety to the game which requires players to learn to control it in order to make the most of it.

Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood is the first action-RPG game adapted from the eponymous game. Mature, brutal, and complex, it invites the player to embody Cahal throughout his quest of bloody redemption. He'll play an essential role in the great war led by the Garous against Pentex, whose activities are devastating the natural world.

Werewolf : The Apocalypse – Earthblood will be available on PS4, Xbox One and PC in 2020.

Continue here to read the full story.

BATTLETECH Heavy Metal Next Month

A new Heavy Metal expansion is coming to BATTLETECH on November 21st, announces Paradox, who say this will add eight new mechs to the Windows, macOS, and Linux turn-based strategy game. Word is this will be sold separately, but it is part of the Season Pass for those who already own one. Here's a Don Felder-free Announcement Trailer, and here's word:

Heavy Metal adds a massive amount of new gameplay options to the world of BATTLETECH, including seven classic ‘Mech designs from the original BATTLETECH board game and an additional ‘Mech designed exclusively for this expansion. Players can also look forward to eight new weapons systems to destroy their foes in unique ways, along with a brand new Flashpoint mini-campaign.

Key Features:

  • One Original and Seven Classic BattleMechs: Seven classic ‘Mechs from BATTLETECH’s 35-year legacy make their triumphant return along with the first completely new ‘Mech designed exclusively for this expansion. Each classic ‘Mech comes with unique equipment that reflects the flavor and lore of the original board game.
  • Eight Game-changing New Weapon Systems: Eight all-new weapon systems can be utilized to destroy even the most formidable opponents in a wide variety of unique ways. The ‘Mech Mortar is the first AOE weapon in BATTLETECH and can destroy multiple units at once, while the new COIL Beam generates more energy the further the attacker travels before firing, a perfect fit for light ‘Mechs.
  • New Flashpoint Mini-Campaign: Come face-to-face with two legendary characters from BATTLETECH lore - the Bounty Hunter and the Black Widow of Wolf’s Dragoons. A derelict cargo ship has drifted into the Periphery from deep space; what secrets does it contain, and who will ultimately control its mysterious payload?

“Heavy Metal brings a greater level of diversity to BATTLETECH by including eight new ‘Mechs and a variety of devastating weapon systems that will change the way players destroy their opponents,” said Mitch Gitelman, BATTLETECH Game Director and co-founder of Harebrained Schemes. “The new mini-campaign weaves its way through your mercenary career to the point when you become an elite MechCommander, capable of facing off with two of the most legendary MechWarriors in BATTLETECH history.”

Continue here to read the full story.

Two Prison Architect Expansions Announced

Paradox Interactive announces Psych Ward: Warden's Edition, an expansion for Prison Architect that's coming to the incarceration simulation on November 21st along with a free update for the base game. This is the first addition to the game since Paradox locked up the IP earlier this year from Introversion Software, and development is being handled by Double Eleven. They also reveal that plans are in place for an additional expansion they expect to bust out sometime next year. An Announcement Trailer accompanies the news, which follows:

Paradox Interactive revealed the latest expansion for Prison Architect, Psych Ward: Warden’s Edition, is launching on PC on November 21, 2019 for a suggested retail price of $5.99 / £4.79 / €5.99. While Psych Ward has been available on consoles since 2017, Psych Ward: Warden’s Edition includes additional content not available in Psych Ward’s console release and will launch alongside a free content update to the base game.

Developed by Double Eleven, Psych Ward: Warden’s Edition introduces unpredictable inmates with new behaviors, adds additional management features, and gives players more ways to customize their prisons. Psych Ward: Warden’s Edition expands on Psych Ward’s console features and adds an additional warden, padded solitary cells, padded floors, Psychiatrist office upgrades, Orderly staff, and more.

“Psych Ward: Warden’s Edition is built to enhance Prison Architect’s existing gameplay mechanics to give players new and interesting ways to experience the game,” Steacy McIlwham, Product Manager for Prison Architect at Paradox Interactive, said. “Each feature in this expansion brings its own set of scenarios and opportunities that require players to get creative with their prison management. Psych Ward: Warden’s Edition is just the start of our plans for Prison Architect, we have much more in the works that you’ll hear about soon.”

Psych Ward: Warden’s Edition will be the first PC expansion to be released since Paradox purchased the Prison Architect IP and partnered with developer Double Eleven earlier this year.

Psych Ward: Warden’s Edition Key Features

  • Plead Insanity: Criminally insane inmates are unpredictable, require special care, and have their own Reputation traits for you to consider when building your prison. Let them co-exist with the general population or lock them away in a padded cell, how you manage their needs is up to you!
  • Shrinks: Any prison holding the criminally insane needs a team of Psychiatrists and trained Orderlies to keep everything under control. These valuable prison staff can sedate rowdy prisoners or pull out the straitjackets when things get too rough.
  • Doctor’s Note: Provide counseling to the criminally insane with the new Psychiatrist’s Office and new consultation Programs. Improve their sessions by upgrading the office with leather sofas, medicine cabinets, Rorschach tests, and more.
  • Good Behavior: Your inmates now have a wide range of behaviors players will need to manage. They start out harmless, but if left untreated, they can turn violent or attempt to escape.
  • It’s Gone Viral: Treat your regular inmates with care. Subjecting your inmates to excessive suppression or punishment can cause them to turn criminally insane.
  • Extra Padding: Psych Ward: Warden’s Edition adds padded cells and padded floors along with a bundle of other new objects, floors, and wall types to customize your prison. Now you can easily build a dedicated wing for the criminally insane.
  • Tools of the Trade: Additional contraband, including Adrenaline Shots, Fountain Pens (Shanks), and Gold Pocket Watches, can be stolen by your prisoners, or by you in Escape Mode.

Paradox and Double Eleven also revealed they have an additional Prison Architect expansion in development that will launch in 2020.

Continue here to read the full story.

Hearts of Iron IV La Résistance Announced

Also from Paradox Interactive is the revelation of La Résistance, a new expansion that will bring French freedom fighters to Hearts of Iron IV, their World War II strategy sequel. The Announcement Trailer takes us behind enemy lines with a cinematic look at what to expect, and the announcement has more, including word that the main game will receive a free when this is released "soon":

The quickest way to kill an enemy is to do it from within. Learn its secrets. Sabotage its industry. Break its codes. Strike at vulnerable points behind the front lines. Send agents to build a network of informants and a secret army that will rise against the occupiers. Resistance is never futile.

Paradox Development Studios is happy to announce Hearts of Iron IV: La Résistance, an expansion to the best-selling grand strategy wargame. La Résistance introduces a new espionage system to the game, and also increases the range of interactions and options with resistance movements in occupied territory.

Features of Hearts of Iron IV: La Résistance includes:

  • New Focus Trees for France: New National Focuses for Free France and the Vichy Regime, as well as an option for conservatives to restore the old French Monarchy.
  • More in Depth Spanish Campaign: New National Focuses for Republican and Nationalist Spain, as well as an expanded Spanish Civil War that can spiral into a wider conflict..
  • Espionage: Use you Intelligence Agency to train spies to specialize in certain types of information warfare and develop passive resistance to enemy espionage, then send them on special operations.
  • Support Resistance: Use your agents to assist allied resistance movements, giving them what they need to damage the enemy.
  • Collaboration Governments: Use your agents to prepare the ground for collaborators to fill the void once you’ve conquered your target.
  • Code Cracking: Decrypt enemy communications to gain short term battlefield advantages.
  • Recon units: Scout planes can provide useful information on nearby areas while armored cars help in detecting and suppressing resistance activities.

As usual, La Résistance will be accompanied by a significant free update to Hearts of Iron IV, available to all players. This update will include a reworking of the resistance system, interface improvements to battleplans and air operations, and many other quality of life improvements.

Continue here to read the full story.

Age of Wonders: Planetfall Revelations Revealed

Paradox's flood of new announcements today includes the revelation of Revelations, the first expansion for Age of Wonders: Planetfall, their sci-fi turn-based strategy game for Windows, Linux, and macOS. This will introduce ancient Heritor Secret Technology, new campaign missions, and location mechanics when it is released on November 19th. Here's the Announcement Trailer along with more on the add-on, which is part of the game's season pass:

Revelations sets in motion the return of the entombed Es’Teq dynasty, whose Heritor descendents aim to use ancient technology and reincarnate billions of followers across the galaxy, establishing divine rule. The Heritor wield strong Entropy weapons that are effective against machines and can awaken ancient Es'Teq minds. Claim ancient secrets or succumb to their power in a new campaign with tactical combat and in-depth empire building.

New Key Features:

  • Anomalous Sites Mechanic - Explore 30+ mysterious sites filled with traps and powerful enemies to reap unique rewards and uncover great secrets. Encounter unique choices based on each faction or Secret Technology.
  • Additional Campaign Missions - Experience the awakening of the Es’teq dynasty and the rise of their Heritor descendants with 10+ hours of new content across two campaigns.
  • New Secret Tech: Heritor - Use ancient Heritor technology to drain the essence of enemies, fueling the opportunity to use powerful abilities, create strong Entropy weapons, and summon new units.
  • Tomb World Scenario - Challenge yourself to complete this deadly new Scenario, where Heritor enemies create an onslaught of destruction. This scenario also includes a new multiplayer questline to allow more players to join in on the action.
  • 'The Forgotten' NPC Faction - Broken, insane, or otherwise unfit for Heritor’s utopian society, The Forgotten were never meant to be resurrected.
  • Threats to Your Empire - Reapers are robotic assassins created long ago to destroy those who were friendly to the Heritor cause, but now hunt all who walk the planet. Equally deadly are the Megasow and Piglets, bio-engineered wildlife gone rabid after the fall of the Star Union, which will devour anything in sight.
  • Locations, Pick-Ups, & Mechanics - Visit an Essence Gash or Es’Teq Well locations to supply new combat effects or abilities to your units. The Holopad pickup provides diplomatic rewards and additional influence over allies and enemies. Take over Imperial Defenses like the new Soul Beacon, Cluster Mine Launcher, or Firestorm Missile Silo to aid in combat.
  • Free Content - All players will gain the ability to take over the new Imperial Defenses, unlocking Operations that boost the combat effect of your colonies. In addition, the Orbital Relays mechanic boosts your empire’s infrastructure to allow for nearly instant unit transportation between sectors - but beware of sabotage interference by enemies!

"This first expansion allows players to explore deeper into the Planetfall universe, uncovering how the collapse of the Star Union empire has awakened beings from its mysterious past,” said Lennart Sas, co-founder of Triumph Studios and Game Director of Age of Wonders: Planetfall. “With the introduction of Heritor Secret Technology, NPCs, and Essence, Revelations is a new chapter for Planetfall that will affect the rise and fall of empires to come.”

Continue here to read the full story.

Stellaris Expansion and DLC Announced

Still more from Paradox Interactive is their announcement of two new add-ons for Stellaris: A major diplomacy-themed expansion called Federations coming later this year and a species pack DLC titled Lithoids which will launch on Thursday. They are now accepting preorders of Federations on Paradox Interactive; GOG.com; or Steam and you can also preorder Lithoids from Paradox Interactive; GOG.com; or Steam. Here's the Federations Announcement Teaser, here's the Lithoids Trailer, and here are some details:

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. With the Stellaris: Federations expansion, players can extend their diplomatic dominion over the galaxy like never before. Use every trick in the book to gain an edge on friend and foe alike, with a host of new options to influence, manipulate, and dominate without firing a shot.

Federations features include:

  • Expanded Federations: With expanded diplomacy capabilities, players can build up the internal cohesion of their Federations and unlock powerful rewards for all members. Whether you join a Trade League, Martial Alliance, or Hegemony, membership can be extremely advantageous.
  • Galactic Community: Unite the space empires with a galactic senate that can vote on a wide range of resolutions to drive legislative agendas. For example, players can pass a resolution to increase commitments to collective defense or funnel profit towards wealthy elites. Members can also sanction those who defy the community, and enact a single galactic focus. Sway the senate to position yourself as a leader, trading favors and maneuvering, doing whatever it takes to gain influence among schemers.
  • Origins: Each empire has a story that shapes its path. Give your civilization deeper roots with the new system of Origins. By choosing an Origin, players can flesh out their empire’s background and alter its starting conditions. Whether it’s Void Dwellers who have abandoned their homeworld to live in perpetual orbit, or a society that worships and protects a powerful Tree of Life, you can lay the groundwork wisely for the seeds of your empire.
  • New Constructions: Construct glorious new projects for your empire like the Juggernaut, a massive mobile starbase that provides a moveable repair base even in enemy territory, or the Mega Shipyard, a new megastructure that can churn out fleets with incredible speed. Offering both tactical advantages and a good dose of shock and/or awe, these are sure to be an asset to any space empire.

In addition, the Lithoids Species Pack features not only completely new gameplay but also a selection of new rock-based species portraits and ship models for players who take nothing for granite and are looking to unearth a more grounded civilization. Lithoids are a bigger and boulder species type made entirely of sapient rock who eat minerals for sustenance, are long-lived, and can colonize in almost any environment.

Players can look forward to trying out the entirely new Lithoid play style that focuses on mineral production, relentless colonization of even the most marginal worlds, and refusing to cede an inch of your empire - for sedimental value. The Lithoids Species Pack includes:

  • Unique Mechanics for Lithoid Empires
  • 15 New Portraits of Lithoids and 1 of a Lithoid robot
  • New Mineral-based Ship Models
  • New voice pack

Continue here to read the full story.

Surviving the Aftermath Early Access

When Paradox Interactive announced Surviving the Aftermath just last week they promised more details on this Surviving Mars follow-up at PDXCON. The surprise here is that this is now available in Early Access for Windows on the Epic Games Store and for Xbox One through Xbox Game Preview. This includes an early bird discount, and they say the full version of the game will launch in late 2020 through the Epic Games Store, Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Here's the Early Access Launch Trailer and here's a briefing:

In Surviving the Aftermath, players will build and manage a colony of survivors in the shadow of a world-ending event. Resources are scarce following the apocalypse, and survival requires mastery of complex systems to optimize production and colony management to ensure nothing is wasted. Players will construct buildings, manage colonists, adapt to natural disasters and more in an effort to restore civilization.

Surviving the Aftermath is more than a colony builder and enables players to go beyond the shelter to explore a dangerous world filled with unique biomes, hazards, bandits, and more. Recruit and send out teams of Specialists to gather resources and intelligence about the world around the colony. Players can see what their teams have discovered by utilizing a vast overworld map that adds layers of strategic gameplay not typically included in a colony builder.

“Throughout Surviving Mars’ development we learned the importance of listening to our community and their feedback helped elevate that game to new heights,” said Nikhat Ali, Lead Producer on Surviving the Aftermath at Paradox Interactive. “With Surviving the Aftermath we want to get our players involved as early as possible so we can make sure we’re making the game they want to play. We have an ambitious content schedule ahead of us that includes monthly updates where we will incorporate feedback from our players and we’re confident the team at Iceflake is the right team for the job.”

“Surviving the Aftermath is the game we’ve always wanted to make,” Lasse Liljedahl, CEO and Lead Designer at Iceflake Studios, said. “When we pitched our plan to Paradox, they recognized our passion and commitment to making this game the best survival colony builder it can be. We’re beyond thrilled to finally share our dream project with the world and to have the support of one of the industry’s leading publishers.”

Surviving the Aftermath Features:

  • No Place Like Home: Build and manage a colony of survivors after a world-ending event. Construct more than 50 unique buildings to handle everything from resource collection and farming to exploration and security. Don’t forget to construct the Gate to venture into the savage world beyond your colony.
  • Surviving Earth: Explore a vast procedurally generated world featuring six different biomes filled with exploitable resources, bandits, and more. Each environment has different conditions that will affect your colony’s survival. Stay vigilant: Natural disasters will put your survivors to the test.
  • Survival is my Specialty: Recruit over 46 unique Specialists, each with their own skills and motivations, to manage your colony’s resources and production. Send them beyond the Gate on scientific missions, scavenger runs, and to fight bandits.
  • Expect the Unexpected: Life in the aftermath requires you to make moral choices. You may not be able to control everything in your colony, but how you respond to situations and emergent events will shape the character of your new civilization.
    Mods: Surviving the Aftermath players can bring their own visions to life using Paradox Mods.

Future updates to Surviving the Aftermath include diplomacy and combat options between colonies, expanded tech trees, endgame content and much more. To learn more about Surviving the Aftermath, and to check out the content roadmap, head over to http://survivingtheaftermath.com

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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

Gone Gold - Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Respawn tweets that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is now officially gold, and the Star Wars action game is on track for its release in a month. DSOGaming points the way to a new trailer that celebrates the news with over 20 minutes of gameplay footage. Here's the brief announcement tweet:

We are proud to announce that #JediFallenOrder has gone gold! We can't wait for you to embark on this adventure across the Galaxy with us on 11/15.

May the Force be with you!

Continue here to read the full story.

U.S. Congress Rebukes Blizzard

You know you are catching a lot of heat when you receive a bipartisan rebuke from the U.S. Congress. This is exactly what has happened to Activision Blizzard, as The Washington Post reports on a letter sent to Activision CEO Bobby Kotick criticizing the company's recent punishment of Ng 'blitzchung' Wai Chung for speaking out about Hong Kong after a Hearthstone tournament. This is written by Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) and co-signed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), in a rare act of crossing the aisle. There's an image of the letter on Reddit and the text is reproduced on WCCFTECH. Reading through it gives the impression they are unaware that Blizzard has already reduced blitzchung's punishment for the incident. Here's the letter:

We write to express our deep concern about Activision Blizzard's decision to make player Ng Wai Chung forfeit prize money and ban him from participating in tournaments for a year after he voiced support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. This decision is particularly concerning in light of the Chinese government's growing appetite for pressuring American businesses to help stifle free speech.

Activision Blizzard benefits from China's growing market for esports, along with an investment from Tencent, one of China's largest technology firms. As you and your company are no doubt aware, the Chinese government uses the size and strength of its economy to suppress opinions with which it disagrees. Last week alone, the Chinese government targeted Apple for hosting an app to help peaceful demonstrators evade repression and the National Basketball Association because one team's general manager tweeted in support of Hong Kong protests.

Your company claims to stand by "one's right to express individual thoughts and opinions," yet many of your own employees believe that Activision Blizzard's decision to punish Mr. Chung runs counter to those values. Because your company is such of pillar of the gaming industry, your disappointing decision could have a chilling effect on gamers who seek to use their platform to promote human rights and basic freedoms. Indeed, many gamers around the world have taken notice your company's actions, understandably calling for boycotts of Activision Blizzard gaming sites.

As China amplifies its campaign of intimidation, you and your company must decide whether to look beyond the bottom line and promote American values -- like freedom of speech and thought -- or to give in to Beijing's demands in order to preserve market access. We urge you in the strongest possible terms to reconsider your decision with respect to Mr. Chung. You have the opportunity to reverse course. We urge you to take it.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Preloads and Other PC Details

A post on the Activision Blog paves the way for the global launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on October 24th. They say preloads for those who have preordered the Windows edition of the military shooter will begin on October 22nd on Battle.net (there's a separate post for console preloads). They also offer a new PC Trailer in spiffy ultra widescreen format to go along with some additional details on features supported by the Windows edition:

Modern Warfare on PC: Additional Options
The PC version of Modern Warfare also features a number of options adding to your overall gameplay experience, including:

4K and Uncapped Frame Rate: You’re able watch and play at 4K resolution, without a frame-rate capping, allowing you flexibility when adjusting your settings.

Expansive Customization Options for PC: Developer Beenox has been working closely in conjunction with Infinity Ward to ensure the PC version of Modern Warfare sets a new high water-mark for customization, featuring more customization options than we’ve ever had in a Call of Duty® game.

64-Player Ground War Matches: Modern Warfare features a variety of gameplay modes, from close-quarter 2v2 Gunfight matches to large-scale 32v32 Ground War battles, as well as fan-favorite 6v6 and 10v10 modes of play. These are available on all platforms.

Squad up with Crossplay: Crossplay (the ability to fight with or against players on console and PC) is available at launch.

Ultrawide and Multi-Monitor Support: How wide do you want your aspect ratio to be? How many monitors do you want to play Modern Warfare on? It’s up to you!

Continue here to read the full story.

Manifold Garden Sprouts

Manifold Garden is now available, offering an Escher-inspired first-person puzzle game from William Chyr Studio. The platforms that offer this are manifold, as it's available for Windows and macOS from the Epic Games Store and for macOS, iOS, and tvOS through Apple Arcade. They also promise this will come to Steam next year. Prepare to have your mind blown (*hand gesture*) by this trailer and read on for more details:

Manifold Garden is a game that reimagines physics and space. Witness infinity in first-person, and master its rules to solve physics-defying puzzles. Cultivate a garden to open new paths forward, where an eternal expanse awaits.

Key Features

  • An expansive and visually striking world filled with mind-bending puzzles.
  • Manipulate gravity to gain new perspectives and walk on any visible surface.
  • Experience space in new ways as you explore infinitely repeating Escher-esque architecture.

Continue here to read the full story.

Plants Vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville Breaks Out

PopCap announces the worldwide release of Plants Vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, their new shooter set in the PvZ universe. Along the way they earn our eternal respect for the combination dad joke and outdated pop culture reference (our wheelhouse) by declaring "it's grow time" (Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum!). The Windows edition is available on Origin and is available for up to 10 hours for EA Access and Origin Access Basic subscribers and for the duration of their subscription for Origin Access Premier members. Here's the Official Launch Trailer, and here's word:

The newest entry in the world’s wackiest shooter franchise features the expansive suburban region of Neighborville where another coniferous conflict between the brain-less and botanicals is brewing. The battle continues to bloom with three free-roam regions that will have players kicking grass beyond the town. With 20 fully customizable character classes, six glorious online multiplayer modes and the new Giddy Park social region, Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is blooming with freshly picked content for players of all walks of life.

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Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition Released

Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth- Complete Edition is now available for Windows and Switch, offering a combo platter of Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth and Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory in one package. The PC version is available on Steam and the Launch Trailer offers a look at the RPG(s) in action. Eat that red pill and read on for this opportunity to be a virtual detective:

Jump into the world of EDEN in Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, a virtual reality world full of intriguing places, people, and Digimon. EDEN sets the stage for a bizarre encounter with a mysterious entity which causes players to turn into a half-digital, half-physical being that phases in-and-out of the digital and physical worlds. Players must explore the cyber and real world while gaining allies, collecting and training Digimon, and solving mysteries in the Digimon world to get their physical body back.

In Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory, players take on the role of Keisuke Amasawa, a high school dropout who gets his EDEN account stolen and is then framed for a crime he did not commit. Keisuke must dive back into the digital world to prove his innocence by tracking down the individual who stole his identity, while navigating through the ins and outs of EDEN.

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On Sale

Evening Patches

Evening Multiplex

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Post-Release Plans

A post to the Activision Games Blog explains the Call of Duty team's approach to releasing new content for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Admitting there are "still questions around how the economy will evolve throughout the post-launch, live seasons," they say that Battle Passes for the shooter will not be sold upon launch to allow players to work through the unlocks, and that all functional content can be unlocked by playing. They are also removing multiplayer map packs to allow everyone to play together, and making other changes to create an even playing field:

A message from the Call of Duty team.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is almost here. From the moment this project began three years ago, the energy has been extraordinary.

We’ve set our sights on not only creating the best game possible this year, but also on breaking down walls and bringing the community together. Starting with Modern Warfare, we will be:

  • Introducing crossplay to unite the community across platforms for the first time.
  • Removing Season Pass and a la carte DLC multiplayer map packs to ensure everyone can play together.
  • Delivering free post-launch multiplayer maps and modes for all players.
  • Releasing post-launch multiplayer maps and modes simultaneously on all platforms.

We are excited about what these changes will bring to Call of Duty players. That said, we also recognize there is one more topic that many fans are interested to learn more about.

Today, let’s address the basics for the in-game economy coming in Modern Warfare.

  • We are introducing a new Battle Pass system, not a loot box system.
  • All functional content that has an impact on game balance, such as base weapons and attachments, can be unlocked simply by playing the game.
  • The new Battle Pass system will allow players to see the content that they are earning or buying. Battle Passes will launch timed to new, post-launch live seasons, so you can unlock cool new Modern Warfare-themed content that matches each season.
  • With the new Battle Pass system, players will be able to earn COD Points by playing the game.
  • There will be both a Free Stream and a Premium Stream of content in the Battle Pass System in Modern Warfare. New base weapons will be earned through gameplay, simply by playing Modern Warfare. Functional attachments for base weapons can be unlocked through gameplay as well just like in the game’s Beta.
  • The Battle Pass and the In-Game Store will feature a variety of cosmetic content that does not impact game balance.

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The Outer Worlds Specs and Launch Trailer

The Outer Worlds is set to launch one week from today, and the Official Launch Trailer is now online to pave the way. Also, the Obsidian Forums now offer System Requirements for the Windows edition of the sci-fi RPG (thanks DSOGaming). Word is you will not need an out of this world PC to get this to run:

System Requirements for The Outer Worlds


Windows 7 (SP1) 64bit
CPU: Intel Core i3-3225 or AMD Phenom II X6 1100T
GPU: Nvidia GTX 650 Ti or AMD HD 7850
HDD Space: 40GB


Windows 10 64bit
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K or Ryzen 5 1600
GPU: GeForce GTX 1060 6GB or Radeon RX 470
HDD Space: 40GB

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Moons of Madness Specs and Trailer

With Moons of Madness due for release on Windows on Tuesday, Funcom has unveiled the system specifications for the Lovecraftian survival/horror game. They celebrate the occasion with a new Teaser Trailer showing off gameplay and The Secret World game's Martian environments. This features the game's environments, a giant tentacle monster, and a smaller tentacle monster that's so cute you just want to give it a hug. Word is: "The video displays the protagonists’ bloodcurdling encounter with a creature currently only known as the Thing in the Mist." Here's the game's space elevator pitch: "In Moons of Madness you play as Shane Newehart, chief engineer on a research facility on Mars – and after awakening from a disconcerting dream, you are about to find out that reality is far more terrifying than even your worst nightmare. You will have to rely on your problem-solving skills, your calm and your ability to run and hide, if you are to have any hope of survival." Here are the system specifications which are now part of the Moons of Madness Steam Listing:

Intel Core i5-760 or equivalent / AMD Athlon X4 740 or equivalent
GPU: GeForce GTX 460 or MX150 / Radeon R7 260X
Disk space: Around 15 GB
OS: Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10 x64

Intel Core i7-2600K or equivalent / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or equivalent
GPU: GeForce GTX 1060 / Radeon RX 580
Disk space: Around 15 GB
OS: Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10 x64

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Enemy on Board Announced

Windwalk Games, a studio comprising former League of Legends developers, announces Enemy on Board, a "social deception" game. This does not yet carry a release date, but they say a Kickstarted campaign to support development will kick off on October 22nd. Here's a trailer (NSFW) showing off gameplay, and here is a description:

Enemy on Board is a multiplayer game for PC that combines hidden-role gameplay with fast-paced action combat. Each round, 6 players wake up on a spaceship and 2 are randomly selected to be Aliens. Players must fight, lie and sleuth to survive. Last team standing wins.

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The Fisherman – Fishing Planet Released

The Fisherman – Fishing Planet is now available, offering a premium version of the free-to-play Fishing Planet. All the F2P game's additional content is included for one purchase price, defying the old saying: Sell a fishing game and you can eat for a day, offer a free-to-play fishing game and you can eat forever. But BIGBEN and Fishing Planet LLC are throwing out a wider net with this release, so cast your eyes on the Launch Trailer and the announcement:

The Fisherman – Fishing Planet is for all nature and sport fishing fans! The premium version of Fishing Planet, which sets the standard for fishing simulators and already boasts 7 million players, combines all the content released to date in one package: the equivalent of more than 35 DLCs as well as features exclusive to this premium version of the game. By moving from a free-to-play model with paid content to a premium model, it guarantees players will be able to enjoy a complete and immersive experience.

The Fisherman – Fishing Planet content:

  • 143 species of fish with realistic behaviour
  • 19 beautiful water locations with authentic backgrounds and vegetation
  • Thousands of tackle combinations possible, each with unique properties
  • Dynamic weather with a day/night cycle and different seasons
  • Online competitions playable solo or co-op, with a trophies and ranking system

Including exclusive contents:

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On Sale

Morning Patches

Morning Multiplex

Morning Crowdfunding

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Interviews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

  • ASRock RX 5700 XT Taichi Graphics Card on Vortez.
  • Fractal Design Ion+ 760W Platinum PSU on APH Networks.
  • GIGABYTE AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD on Vortez.
  • SilentiumPC Navis EVO ARGB 240 AIO Liquid CPU Cooler on Nikk Tech.
  • Streacom DA2 Mini-ITX Chassis on TweakTown.
  • Team Group Cardea II 1 TB NVMe SSD on TechPowerUp.
  • ZADAK Spark RGB DDR4 4133MHz RAM on Vortez.


Out of the Blue

I see a local news story reporting that power outages in the area persist in the aftermath of a nor'easter that recently rocked the area. It seems the brief brownouts I recently mentioned experiencing were preventive measures intended to protect us from such problems. But this all serves as a reminder that the new home of the BlueTower is a bit further off the beaten path than before, so I want to acknowledge the possibility that we may be more vulnerable to weather-related threats to our power lines than in the past (I hope I'm wrong about this). Sadly, I believe living in a condo prevents us from being able to get a generator, but if the lights do go out, I will do my best to find a way to make updates anyway. At the very least I should be able to let you know what's going on if it comes to it. In the meantime, I will use the time-honored way of staving off such issues with the scientifically proven technique of crossing my fingers.

Powerful Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Residence Gudu.
Doodle Alive.
Links: This Monty Python Black Knight Statue Talks and Features Flesh Wound Action. Thanks Neutronbeam.
Ex-CIA Officer Reveals How Eateries Are Key To Spycraft. Thanks RedEye9.
Stories: Obesity Rates For Children Are Rising Fast Across The Globe. Thanks RedEye9.
Science: Earth-like exoplanets may be common in the universe, study suggests.
Steroid injections may lead to more long-term harm than previously thought, new study says.
Images: Beau. 14/10 a self-sufficient king. Thanks Kxmode.
This Is the Free Jumpsuit You’ll Get With a $250,000 Ticket to Space. Thanks Neutronbeam.
Media: Next generation vertical lift Bell V 280 Valor.
Don't break into-crash into-key a Tesla. So you should do those things to cars without cameras?
Utah Highway Patrol trooper swoops in to save unconscious man from being hit by a train. Damn!
Follow-up: Is The F-35 Worth $115 Million?


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