Updated: Jan 21, 2019 6:38 pm Eastern Standard Time (GMT -05:00)
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Monday, Jan 21, 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Hitman 2 Snow Festival Free For All Tomorrow

Today's version 2.13 update for Hitman 2 adds a Snow Festival event along with the Winter Sports Pack and other changes for those who own the assassination sequel. Those who don't should still break out the long underwear, though, as word is tomorrow this will become free for all in a trial version that will remain available for about three weeks:

Celebrate the Winter season at the HITMAN 2 Snow Festival in Hokkaido and throw snowballs at your target in a new mission! Starting on January 21 and through February 12, The Snow Festival brings winter-themed items and the Snow Master Challenge Pack that rewards two new unlocks: The Ice Pick and The Snow Festival Suit!

January 21st: For HITMAN 2 players who own the Legacy Pack, The Snow Festival will be available via the Hokkaido Legacy location for the duration of the event. The Snow Festival Suit and Ice Pick are permanently unlocked for anyone who unlocks them during the event.

January 22nd: For anyone that doesn’t own HITMAN 2, the entire Hokkaido Legacy Location (including the Snow Festival) can be downloaded and enjoyed for the duration of the event. This free trial will be available to download on January 22nd at 13 UTC for Xbox One and PS4 players and 18 UTC for PC players. The trial will end at the same times on February 12.
Progress will carry over to the main game.

Anthem Game and Demo Differences Detailed

A tweet from Mark Darrah explains what will be different in the full version of Anthem, compared to the demo for the mech action game (thanks VideoGamer.com). Here's word on what to expect and what not to expect:

So how’s the Anthem demo different from the game?
- we start you in the middle
- no tutorials
- no pilot picker
- balance is super different
- economy is completely different
- 6 weeks less bug fixes

Atlas Veers Off Course Again

A post to the Atlas Website announces emergency maintenance and an NA PvP rollback being conducted in the pirate game after more shenanigans in the game. Following last week's incident where unauthorized access to an admin account caused players to be beset by sea monsters and deluged by aircraft and tanks, the new breach similarly spawned drakes and giant whales in the game and spammed players with messages to subscribe to Pewdiepie (because nothing makes you want to follow a streamer more than having your game disrupted). If you want to see this in action, this clip (NSFW) and this one (NSFW) offer a look (thanks Eurogamer.net). Word is this time did not involve a compromised account, but it is invoking bans for those responsible and bonus drop rates for those affected:

The damage done was caused by a technical exploit which we have now protected against, no administrator accounts were compromised in this situation. We apologize for the inconvenience and we thank for your patience and understanding during this time.

In regards to action taken, multiple accounts have been banned in relation to this, by ourselves and BattlEye, though the evidence and our extensive logging indicates that this group does not have any specific ties to any one company, but are instead targeting streamers and large or well-known companies. We will continue our investigation and will take action on all involved accounts and companies when we learn of their involvement immediately.

To compensate, we’ll be extending the 2x Bonus Rates until Wednesday. Please be assured that this is a priority for the team and we are working extensively to ensure that it does not occur again.

Battlefield 5 Graphics Cheaters Banned

A video of Battlefield 5 gameplay shows off what the game looks like when the graphics options in the game are turned down below the minimum level offered in the game menus (thanks [H]ardOCP). According to the clip, players are being banned from the game for using this trick, and it shows why, as it allows the player to see enemies that would otherwise not be visible. This raises the question of whether improving visibility in such a way is actually cheating, but the bans suggest DICE has already made their judgment on the matter. They note that many players use an external program to achieve this effect, but that this can be accomplished by editing some text config files as well, and question whether this can actually be detected by the game's anti-cheat software, or were the players who were banned for doing this only caught because they were streaming the game when using this technique. Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Patches

On Sale

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

BioWare Wanted to Make KOTOR 3

A post on Den of Geek says "Star Wars: EA Reportedly Will Not Let BioWare Make KOTOR Games." This sounds more sensational suggested by the source of the story, which is a tweet from Kotaku's Jason Schreier. This was part of a bigger discussion of cancelled Star Wars games. In response to a post saying that Knights of the Old Republic had a good "scoundrel" protagonist, but expressing doubts about trusting the BioWare anymore with such a project, Jason says BioWare has tried and failed more than once to get a green light for a third KOTOR game:

They've tried to make it happen, more than once from what I've heard. No luck

System Shock Video Shows Off Final Art

A new video from Nightdive Studios for their upcoming revival of System Shock, the classic action/RPG (thanks Simon). This shows off the game's final art style as they hope to head off confusion on this topic, since previous videos included placeholder alpha artwork. This project raised $1.35 million through a now-complete Kickstarter, but the description also includes word that they are offering another chance to back the game by preordering it through BackerKit. Word is:

We wanted to create a small preview of the final art as there was some confusion due to our previous video of the Adventure Alpha containing only placeholders.

Combat is next!

If you missed out on the Kickstarter and still wish to support this project, check out our BackerKit!

Continue here to read the full story.

OUTWARD Video Developer Diary

A new video (posted last week but embargoed until today) for OUTWARD offers a little "Dev Diary Wanderlust" for this recently announced RPG in the works at Nine Dot and Maximum Games. The title reflects how this focuses on travel and survival in the game environment, as well as your luggage: "This video showcases the variety and depth of not only the game’s environment, but also the mechanics of an undervalued and iconic piece of gear: the backpack." The video comes along with more on those topics:

OUTWARD is a hardcore RPG that tempers fantasy elements with realism. The player must survive against natural dangers like hunger, disease, and the elements as well as monsters and brigands. This is where the backpack comes in; without the limitless inventory seen in other RPGs how will the player surpass the challenges that enemies and the environment present to them? The larger your backpack, the more prepared you can be. However, carrying too much encumbering equipment will leave you vulnerable in a surprise attack. Which pack you carry can be just as much a deciding factor as the weapon you bring into battle and your chosen fighting style.

Additionally, the player’s map-reading skills will be put to the test. Exploring the corners of Aurai with nothing but a backpack provides a thrilling experience that can be described as the peak of adventuring! You decide if you want to travel light or not, but you will have to make sure you are able to adapt to your environment. Aurai has four distinct regions that you will need to navigate with the help of your trusty compass, your map, and your ability to locate landmarks. The game will not do that for you. Not to worry, though. With preparation, you will be able to overcome most challenges that OUTWARD will throw at you.

Continue here to read the full story.

Strange Telephone Comes Calling

HZ3 Software announces the release of Strange Telephone, a 2D, pixel-art adventure game for Windows featuring multiple environments. This uses a phone number mechanic, though we're not familiar with many places that use their six-digit phone number system. This is available on Steam and PLAYISM, with each offering a 10% discount for the launch. Here's a trailer showing things off, and the announcement explains further:

Strange Telephone delves into the multi-ending 2D adventure game, developed by HZ3 Software. Travel around a strange pixel world, automatically generated by a 6-digit phone number.

The protagonist Jill is trapped in a dark world with a large door floating before her. She is aided by Graham, who takes on the form of a telephone. Making phone calls with Graham creates various worlds that can be explored. In each of these worlds are items to be found, including the key that will lead to her escape.

Features:

  • A unique and enticing adventure game.
  • Fascinating pixel art, captivating music and carefully designed animation.
  • A huge upgrade from the original game released on mobile.
  • 11 different endings
  • New stage designs, items and characters.
  • Character introductions for everyone you meet.

Continue here to read the full story.

U.K. Sales Charts

GFK Chart-Track offers their latest charts tabulating game sales in the United Kingdom for the week ending January 19th. Here's the all-platforms chart and here's how they summarize all the action: "It is the biggest debut in the long running series’ history for Bandai Namco. Big hitters ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ and ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ are non-movers at No3 and No4 respectively while ‘FIFA 19’ drops 3 places to No5. No other new titles manage to break in to the All Formats Top 40 chart this week." On the PC chart, Football Manager 2019 maintains its foothold on the top spot on a chart that mostly speaks Simlish. Here's the PC top 10:

POS. TITLE LABEL LAST WEEK
1 - FOOTBALL MANAGER 2019 SEGA 1
2 - THE SIMS 4 EA GAMES 2
3 - THE SIMS 4: CATS & DOGS EA GAMES 3
4 - FARMING SIMULATOR 19 FOCUS HOME INTERACTIVE 4
5 - THE SIMS 4: SEASONS EA GAMES 5
6 - THE SIMS 4: GET FAMOUS EA GAMES 6
7 ˄ THE SIMS 4: CITY LIVING EA GAMES 9
8 * THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE BETHESDA SOFTWORKS -
9 ˄ THE SIMS 4: GET TO WORK EA GAMES 11
10 * WOLFENSTEIN: THE OLD BLOOD BETHESDA SOFTWORKS -

Morning Patches

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Interviews

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Back to the future edition. Thanks Ant.

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

  • Battlefield V NVIDIA Ray Tracing RTX 2060 Performance on [H]ardOCP.
  • Last Year: The Nightmare on Gaming Nexus.

Hardware Reviews

  • 1STPLAYER Bullet Hunter MK6 Keyboard on TechPowerUp.
  • iStorage diskAshur2 External Hard Drive on ThinkComputers.org.
  • Logitech G533 Wireless 7.1 Surround Gaming Headset on Overclockers Club.
  • MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti LIGHTNING Z Graphics Card on Guru3D.
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Graphics Card on TechSpot.
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Graphics Cards on Techgage. 1080p & 1440p Gaming Performance.
  • Palit GeForce RTX 2070 GameRock Premium 8 GB Graphics Card on TechPowerUp.

etc.

Out of the Blue

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day, a celebration of the slain civil rights leader and his dream. There are parades around the country to commemorate the occasion, but oddly none in New York City. Interesting MLK trivia: We've recently learned his name is very difficult to pronounce, proving a greater challenge for newscasters to get right than the name of former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Challenging Links: Thanks Ant.
Stories: Ice glazes over swath of US as wind chills fall below zero.
Tiny houses look marvelous but have a dark side- three things they don't tell you on marketing blurb. Thanks RedEye9.
Science: Newly discovered prehistoric shark named after arcade classic Galaga.
Images: There’s (literally) kids in diapers out here with swings better than mine. Better than mine too.
Media: American Gods - Official Trailer.
SHAZAM! - Official Teaser Trailer.
Pet Owner Leaves A Camera On To See What Her Dog And Cat Do When She Leaves, And It's Perfect.
Auctions: Prince Philip crash: Debris for sale on eBay.
Follow-up: Jones Not Happy With "Ghostbusters 3". Perhaps she's just mocking the outraged response to the previous movie?


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Sunday, Jan 20, 2019

Blizzard Hiring for Unannounced Diablo Game

Blizzard Lists a bunch of new job openings for Diablo, suggesting production of a new installment in the action/RPG series is ramping up (thanks TweakTown). To be clear, these do not relate to Blizzard Immortal, the mobile game that disappointed fans upon its announcement, as openings for that game are listed separately. Each of the 19 positions includes "unannounced project" in the listing, but they are all categorized under Diablo. Here's what they say about this unannounced project from on of the listings:

We're working on a new, unannounced Diablo project. Are you a skilled, passionate, team-oriented games Producer? Come work with us, and together we will build something exceptional. Our growing team is diverse, talented, highly collaborative and deeply invested.

Diablo III Season 16 Underway

Speaking of Diablo, it should be noted that Season 16 is now underway as promised in Diablo III. This post from last month outlines what this entails. The twist this time around is the ability to get the bonuses from the Ring of Royal Grandeur without even owning one, much less equipping it:

Season 16 introduces a brand-new buff to the mix that will change up the way you play. For the duration of Season 16, all Seasonal players will benefit from the legendary power of the Ring of Royal Grandeur. This means you do not need to hunt down or equip the item to benefit from its Set bonus-enabling ability! Bear in mind that this buff does not stack with additional Rings of Royal Grandeur, whether they be equipped directly on your character or via the Jewelry slot in Kanai’s Cube.

For the uninitiated, this means many classes may be able to combine different Class Set bonuses in new ways—or squeeze yet another Legendary power into their favorite builds. Theorycrafters unite!—this is the season to strut your stuff, experiment to your heart’s content, and push the limits of your most perfectly crafted build. While we’ve done our own experimenting, we can’t wait to see what the community comes up with in Season 16!

Breach Sniper Trailer

QC Games offers a new trailer to show off the sniper class in Breach, their action/RPG that just launched into Early Access on Steam. They also offer an explanation of how snipers in the game combine marksmanship with "magical boosts" to pick off their targets:

In any effective team preparing for battle, it is essential to have a team member who is focused on quickly destroying, and frankly, murdering, those in your path – meet the Sniper. In Breach, the co-op, RPG dungeon brawler from QC Games, the Sniper hails from the Tech school and fills the role of an Assassin. A merciless killer who utilizes spells to enhance their dexterity and precision, the Sniper delivers deadly shots from long range so the monsters will never know what hit ‘em.

The Sniper class employs magical boosts to make sure each shot locks in with deadly precision on their enemies in a multitude of ways: from the Vortex Slug, a slow moving shot that creates a vortex on impact, pulling enemies together, to the Snare Trap, which holds enemies in place and applies damages, and to the Snipe signature ability, targeting opponents and eliminating them where they stand with high single-target damage. Timing the use of each Sniper ability will enable players to ruthlessly obliterate monsters with marksman-like efficiency.

Continue here to read the full story.

Steam Top 10

Here's the new top 10 list to report the bestselling titles on Steam for last week:

  1. PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS
  2. RESIDENT EVIL 2 / BIOHAZARD RE:2
  3. My Time At Portia
  4. Survivor Pass: Vikendi
  5. Grand Theft Auto V
  6. RESIDENT EVIL 2 / BIOHAZARD RE:2
  7. Rise of the Tomb Raider
  8. MONSTER HUNTER: WORLD
  9. ACE COMBAT 7: SKIES UNKNOWN
  10. Raft

Sunday Patches

On Sale

Gatherings & Competitions

Sunday Mobilization

Sunday Metaverse

Sunday Tech Bits

Sunday Safety Dance

Sunday Legal Briefs

etc.

Out of the Blue

We got our promised winter storm, but it's not so bad in these parts. The warmth and rain followed the snow, as forecast, so it's messy out there, but it seems like it should mostly clear up on its own. This may result in ice as the cold returns though, so we'll have to be careful with that. That'll be easy enough for me, as I plan on staying in and watching the NFL conference championship games. Both of them seem like incredible matchups on paper, and I'm anticipating exciting games.

R.I.P.: Tony Mendez Dead- CIA Officer Portrayed in ‘Argo’ Was 78.

Championship Links: Thanks Ant.
Links: Must see 13 retro futuristic concept cars. Thanks Cutter.
Stories: Why you want your boss to hold a warm cup of coffee when you ask for a raise. Thanks LinkedIn.
Science: Communication in Brain May Be Remarkably Constant in Autism. Thanks Max.
Researchers may have witnessed the birth of a black hole. Thanks Max.
Hermit crabs evolved longer penises to keep their shells from being stolen.
Media: If Videogame Henchmen Swapped Games.
HeroStorm Ep 52:-Laughter is the Best Medicine.
Watch an inventor take on a Royal Marines assault course in a jet suit.
Follow-up: Anti-Vaxxers Declared One of the Top 10 Threats to Public Health in 2019 as a Measles Outbreak Spreads Across Vancouver, Wash.
The Funnies: Plow Boys - FoxTrot.
Brevity.


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