Updated: Jul 18, 2018 8:33 pm Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -04:00)
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Wednesday, Jul 18, 2018

Xaviant Resumes The Culling; Culls The Culling 2

This video with "a message from Xaviant" is posted to the Steam listing for The Culling, which is telling, since the company's most recent release is The Culling 2. But this makes sense when we see that this is a reaction to the incredibly negative response to The Culling 2 to announce that the company is putting an end to the battle royale sequel. They have already removed it from sale, and are working with Valve, Microsoft, and Sony to provide refunds to those who already purchased it. Studio Director of Operations Josh Van Veld speaks of their desire to move forward, admitting the correctness of user feedback suggesting they continue focusing their attention on the original game. He also offers apologies for the contentious way they approached the launch of The Culling and the feedback about the announcement of the sequel. Thus he says they will relaunch the day one edition of The Culling this week on their test server for all owners of the game, and he talks of the rediscovering the joys of what made it different from other battle royales (battles royale?). The Culling is now back in development, and the day one version will remain on the test servers until they are ready to officially relaunch it with improvements on their original vision.

Call of Cthulhu in October

Publisher Focus Home Interactive and developer Cyanide Studio reveal an October 30th release date for Call of Cthulhu for Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. The Lovecraft-inspired horror/RPG was originally announced for a 2017 release, but now that it has an exact date, the Windows edition is available for pre-purchase on Steam. The game's E3 2018 trailer is the most recent look at the game in motion, and there are a couple of new screenshots in this tweet. Here are the details:

Call of Cthulhu, the official videogame inspired by Chaosium’s classic pen and paper RPG, will begin the spread of madness on October 30 this year – just in time for Halloween. Lock the doors, turn off the lights, and uncover the chilling mysteries of this Narrative RPG game, descending deep into a world of inevitable insanity and shrouded Old Gods within Lovecraft’s iconic universe.

Four new screenshots give you a glimpse of what’s to come across the deep, single-player story following private investigator Edward Pierce’s as he scours the island of Darkwater for answers regarding the mysterious deaths of the Hawkins family. Lead him along the razor’s edge of madness, as he’s confronted with a terrifying web of conspiracies, cultists, and cosmic horrors…

Nothing is as it seems. Sanity is an irregular bedfellow, all too often replaced by whisperings in the dark. Strange creatures, weird science, and shadowy cults dominate the Cthulhu Mythos, intent on realizing their mad schemes to bring about the end of all. Your mind will suffer - balancing a razor-thin line between sanity and madness, your senses will be disrupted until you question the reality of everything around you. Trust no one. Creeping shadows hide lurking figures… and all the while, the Great Dreamer prepares for his awakening.

Call of Cthulhu releases for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 30.

Two Point Hospital Next Month

Two Point Hospital will launch on August 30th, announce publisher SEGA and developer Two Point Studios, and preorders of the upcoming management simulation are now offered through two bazillion approved digital partners. They celebrate the news with this trailer showing that you're probably better off looking for medical care in just about any other facility in the world, including Dr. Peter Stormare's eye transplant office in Minority Report. Here's more:

Two Point Studios, featuring development talent from some of the greatest sim games ever made return to their spiritual home with Two Point Hospital. Players will take on the role of Hospital Administrator where a mantra of build, cure and improve will be necessary to take your career from humble beginnings to the heights of hospital management greatness.

Set in Two Point County, an atypical world oozing with charisma, humour and character, budding administrators need to be creative and use every tool and trick at their disposal to navigate a diverse assortment of hospital management challenges. Design your hospitals; train your staff and manage their wide-ranging personalities; discover diseases, research new treatments and develop your machinery; conduct marketing and spread your organisation like the most patient-friendly virus around; and, oh yes, cure patients with unusual illnesses.

Continue here to read the full story.

Truck Driver Closed Beta

Publisher SODESCO and developer Triangle Studios announce the commencement of closed beta testing for Truck Driver, their recently announced upcoming single-player focused commercial transportation simulation. They admit that some players got into this beta early after finding clues in the game's first teaser trailer, but now they are spelling out how to apply if you are interested:

Today, SOEDESCO announced that gamers will soon be able to hit the roads as Truck Driver enters its closed beta stage. Truck Driver has already come a long way in development. Since its announcement last month, it has had a number of additions to enrich the trucking experience. Those interested in following and shaping the game from the get go can sign up for the closed beta now: https://truckdriver.soedesco.com/beta/.

Bas de Jonge, Marketing Manager at SOEDESCO, has a surprise to share: “We’ve already had a lot of interest in the closed beta of the game, following a hidden link in the first teaser trailer we released for Truck Driver! Those lucky gamers will be of some of the first to play the game in its early stages, but now we’re ready to add more.”

Watch the teaser trailer: https://youtu.be/DtnLMYGBzwg

Truck Driver developer Triangle Studios is delighted with the excited reactions that have been received so far. A lot of work has gone into the development of Truck Driver since the initial announcement, for example adding a day and night-cycle and improving graphical quality and density of the map. To showcase some of these updates, a set of brand new screenshots have been released to illustrate Truck Driver’s day and night cycle fo the very first time. More will follow soon.

Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Patches

On Sale

Evening Interviews

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Our power outage lasted well into the afternoon, but everything has been stable since they turned the lights back on, so I'm thankful this wasn't worse, and compliment Con Ed on a job well done.

Politicians to Livestream Games on Twitch

The Washington Post now offers a new series on their Twitch Channel to cover news events live, and the newspaper also has plans to launch another series to feature prominent politicians discussing current events on a livestream while playing video games. Digiday has details on the plan (thanks Dexerto), and says we are being asked to believe this partnership is unrelated to the fact that Jeff Bezos owns both companies: "Connelly said the decision to try out Twitch was solely based on the existing video audience rather than Bezos owning Twitch and the Post." Here's more on the plan, which says their political variant on Conan's Clueless Gamer concept will kick off tomorrow:

The channel will kick off with two shows. One is live news coverage hosted by video reporter Libby Casey, starting July 16 with a livestream covering President Trump’s meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, with the frequency to be determined by the news cycle. The other is a series starting July 19 called “Playing Games with Politicians” where political reporter David Weigel will interview prominent politicians (Rep. Matt Gaetz, Sen. Corey Booker and Rep. Suzan DelBene are confirmed for the first season) while they play video games.

The Post had been watching Twitch for a while because it has a big, untapped video audience. Per the platform, it has 15 million daily active users and it reportedly has 1 million views at any given time. (Twitch is also owned by Amazon, which happens to share an owner with The Washington Post.) Its decision to launch a channel was validated when it broadcast Mark Zuckerberg’s hearings on Capitol Hill in April and got 380,000 viewers the first day and 1.5 million views in all on its top clip that day. For comparison’s sake, the top channel on Twitch Friday afternoon was Fortnite, with just over 200,000 live views.

Wow Subscriptions Now Include All Expansions

Blizzard announces that all the World of Warcraft expansions up to, and including, Legion, are now accessible to all subscribers to their MMORPG. This news comes as they gear up for next month's launch of the Battle for Azeroth expansion. Here are the details:

The Battle for Azeroth pre-patch is here, and with this update we’re making some exciting changes to the way players access to World of Warcraft. Starting today, new players can gain access to all World of Warcraft content up through and including the Legion expansion simply by becoming a subscriber—you no longer need to purchase the original World of Warcraft base game. In addition, all existing World of Warcraft subscribers have automatically been upgraded to Legion at no additional cost.

Today we’re also updating the World of Warcraft: Complete Collection for new subscribers, which includes all seven expansions—including a digital pre-purchase of the upcoming Battle for Azeroth—30 days of game time*, and one Level 110 Character Boost.

Give the Gift of Battle for Azeroth
The next chapter of World of Warcraft is almost here, and it’s the perfect time to help your friends and family get into the action by giving the gift of Battle for Azeroth!

Once you’ve pre-purchased Battle for Azeroth and assembled your allies, it’s time to get ready for the global launch. . . .

Battle for Azeroth™: One Launch to Rule Them All
Mark your calendar for August 14!** For the first time in World of Warcraft® history, the next expansion—Battle for Azeroth—will launch in the Americas, Europe, Taiwan, Korea, and Australia/New Zealand at the same time. Wherever you live and whatever faction you fight for, you can be part of one globally unified front as the battle for Azeroth begins. See the complete launch schedule here.

Whether you’re Alliance or Horde, it’s time to heed the call of battle!

*30 days of game time available for new subscriptions only.
**To align with other regions, the Americas will launch slightly ahead of August 14 in local time. Learn more.

Original Crysis Multiplayer Support Ending

A Facebook Post announces that online multiplayer support for the original Crysis is ending on October 11th (thanks DSOGaming). Crytek's debut first-person shooter was initially released in November 2007, so it's had a good run, but the post says the game no longer has enough active players to justify ongoing multiplayer support:

Online multiplayer will no longer be available from October 11, 2018.

We don’t have the required number of players to keep up the service and ensure all our players have a great online experience.

We appreciate your support and hope you continue enjoying our single-player campaign.

Ubisoft Financials

Ubisoft offers their first quarter 2018-2019 sales results, which CEO Yves Guillemot calls "a record first quarter, which exceeded our expectations." Here's more from his comments: "Thanks to its numerous growth drivers, brisk digital trajectory and close-knit relations with its gamer communities, as well as the fact that it directly owns its brands, Ubisoft is ideally positioned to meet its targets for full-year 2018-19 and continue to grow and increase its profitability over the long term." The announcement includes a handy bullet point summary of the news:

  • Sales : 400.0 M€
  • Net bookings up 88.8% to €381.5 million, outstripping the target of around €350.0 million
  • Digital net bookings up 76.7% to €287.0 million (75.2% of total net bookings vs. 80.4% in first-quarter 2017-18)
    • PRI1 net bookings up 51.5% to €125.9 million (33.0% of total net bookings vs. 41.1% in first quarter 2017-18)
  • Back-catalog net bookings up 74.7% to €332.6 million (87.2% of total net bookings vs. 94.3% in first-quarter 2017-18)
  • Targets for full-year 2018-19 confirm

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

Important last second note: The power is out here in the Blue Tower, and I am making this update on my waning battery power on my UPS. I'm not sure what's happening, so at this point I don't know if this will be a real problem updating later or not.

Apologies for the forum downtime yesterday, things seem to be back in order thanks to Frans. It was touch and go for a while, as I hunkered down in the lunar lander to save main battery power for the restart. Meanwhile Frans worked in near darkness, insisting on trying to solve the problem while suffering the exact conditions I was. No wait, that's the story of Apollo 13... Well, the story here was surely equally harrowing and heroic. Thanks again to Frans for setting things straight.

R.I.P.: Stan Dragoti Dead- Director of ‘Mr. Mom,’ ‘Love at First Bite,’ Was 85.

Repaired Links: Thanks Ant.
Links: James Bond's Lego Aston Martin DB5 comes complete with working ejector seat.
A giant, semi-nude statue of Jeff Goldblum has popped up in London.
Story: Singapore Airlines named world's best airline 2018. Delta highest-ranked US carrier at #37.
Science: Human evolution: China find, Africa analysis raises questions. Thanks Max.
‘My brain feels like it’s been punched’- the intolerable rise of perfectionism. Thanks Max.
Using a virus to kill what antibiotics can’t.
Images: Wil Wheaton and Jeremy Wheaton at 1987 celebrity Mario-A-Thon.
Media: MORTAL KOMBAT 1 Vs. X (React: Gaming).
Muggers - Epic NPC Man - Viva La Dirt League (VLDL).
Denoising digital images with AI.
Follow-up: Mandalay Bay hotel owner sues more than 1000 victims of the Vegas gunman.
The Funnies: Savage Chickens.
Sunny Street.

Established 1995. Over a billion visitors since 1997.

Tuesday, Jul 17, 2018

Far Cry 5: Lost on Mars Found

Far Cry 5: Lost on Mars is now available, offering a new expansion that takes the first-person shooter from Montana to Mars to kick some alien ass. This trailer will help your total recall of what this is all about, and the announcement has more details:

Today, Ubisoft announced that Far Cry® 5: Lost on Mars, the second post-launch adventure, is now available on PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, the Xbox One family of devices including Xbox One X and Windows 10 PC.

Lost on Mars continues the uncanny adventures in the Far Cry 5 Season Pass as players travel to Mars as Nick Rye alongside Hurk to eradicate alien arachnids. Lost on Mars can be purchased as stand-alone DLC for $9.99, as part of the season pass for $29.99 or the Gold Edition for $89.99.

Lost on Mars transports the franchise’s insanity to the Red Planet as Nick Rye and Hurk teleport to Mars in an effort to restore power to ANNE, a futuristic AI representing humanity’s last line of defense. This adventure will also give players a new arsenal of alien weaponry, including:

  • Blaster of Disaster: A single-shot space gun made of trusty alien hardware.
  • Hellfire: Fires 15 bouncing laser balls, inflicting serious damage.
  • Morphinator: Harness the power of science to turn predators into prey – with an explosive twist.
  • Space Jets: Defy gravity and blast across Mars in an entirely new way to navigate extraterrestrial terrain.

In addition, all Far Cry 5 players can access new Mars-themed assets in Far Cry Arcade, available now. Map builders will be able to integrate these assets into their existing maps or create new sci-fi-themed maps.

Ubisoft also released the Far Cry 5: Lost on Mars soundtrack, a funky, sci-fi, 70s-inspired spaghetti western track list created and performed by film composer Anthony Marinelli. Marinelli used his original vintage analog synthesizers from iconic films Young Guns, Starman, War Games and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, as well as sci-fi orchestra riffs, baritone guitar, banjo, dobro, wah guitar and funky bass lines to get players grooving with the spiders on Mars. The soundtrack is available here: https://IDOL.lnk.to/FarCry5_Lost_On_Mars

Continue here to read the full story.

Tempest 4000 Released

Atari announces the launch of Tempest 4000, a new installment in the classic arcade action series for Windows and consoles. The PC edition is available on Steam with no launch discount. This video shows off the game while desperately attempting to induce seizures, and the announcement fills in the details:

Atari, one of the world's most iconic consumer brands and interactive entertainment producers, today announced that Tempest 4000™, the long-awaited sequel to the classic arcade game Tempest®, is now available on PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One and Windows PC via Steam. Developed by Llamasoft and legendary game designer Jeff Minter, Tempest 4000 is a visually stunning, action-packed arcade shooter that remains faithful to the original, while adding exciting new features and gorgeous 4K graphics.

Continue here to read the full story.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole DLC This Month

Ubisoft announces they are bringing Bring the Crunch to Windows and consoles on July 31st, adding new DLC for South Park: The Fractured But Whole, their cartoon-inspired, superhero RPG. This post has screenshots showing off the pack, and the following details:

Today, Ubisoft and South Park Digital Studios announced that Bring the Crunch, downloadable content (DLC) for South Park™: The Fractured But Whole™, will be available on next-gen platforms and Windows PC on July 31. From South Park Digital Studios and developed by Ubisoft San Francisco, Bring the Crunch adds a whole new story campaign and “Final Girl” superhero class to South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Bring the Crunch will be available for the suggested retail price of $11.99.

In Bring the Crunch, your newest buddy, Mint-Berry Crunch, aka Bradley Biggle, aka Gok-zarah, has just arrived from his home planet of Kokujon with the tremendous power of mint and berries. Meanwhile, an idyllic summer at Lake Tardicaca turns into a nightmare when the camp counselors go missing. With the fate of summer camp in jeopardy, Fastpass sends out a Coonstagram distress signal. Team up with FastPass, Doctor Timothy, Professor Chaos and the newest member of the Coon & Friends, Mint-Berry Crunch, to save summer camp.

Players will also be able to embrace the new “Final Girl” class and overcome insurmountable odds to survive. This superhero class brings new combat tactics and traps to take down spooky enemies. After saving Lake Tardicaca, players will be able to bring their new powers and buddy to the rest of their superhero adventure.

Fear the Wolves Early Access Delayed

We're afraid we have to tell you Early Access to Fear the Wolves is delayed, and will not get underway tomorrow as planned. It seems like only yesterday that Vostok Games announced a July 18th Early Access launch date for their battle royale game, but actually it was two weeks ago, and the delay is more than two weeks, so the beta feedback they say inspired the delay must have made an impression. Word is Early Access is being delayed by "a few weeks." Here's more:

Originally scheduled for release July 18, Fear The Wolves' Early Access on Steam has now been pushed back by a few weeks. Focus Home Interactive and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. veterans Vostok Games have made this decision together after closely listening to the expectations and feedback of players in the Closed Beta, which has proven a vital part of the game’s ongoing development. The Closed Beta will extend until the new Early Access launch date, allowing players to continue their exploration of the hostile and radioactive lands of a devastated Chernobyl.

We’ve already seen tens of thousands of players battling in Fear the Wolves over the last week of the Closed beta. We are delighted that players are satisfied with the core combination of classic Battle Royale gameplay with original mechanics – particularly the players vs. environment, radiation hazards, dynamic weather, and unique end-of-game extraction system.

The positive community feedback encouraged us to delay the release of the Early Access to ensure the well-received core experience isn’t marred by technical issues. On top of fixing these issues, this delay will also allow us to further improve other aspects of the game, thanks to the masses of data and player feedback gathered through testing.

We anticipate that the extra development time will raise Fear The Wolves’ quality to a level at which players will be able to fully experience it’s unique atmosphere.

Fear the Wolves will release on PC in Early Access later this summer.

The release of the full game is scheduled for 2019 on consoles and PC.

No Man's Sky NEXT Video

The No Man's Sky NEXT free update is expected one week from today on July 24th, so Hello Games is offering a new trailer showing off the multiplayer changes that it will bring. To help convey the point, they also include a cheat sheet explaining what the video reveals:

Upcoming content featured in the trailer includes:

New Multiplayer Mode:

  • Team up with a small group of friends to explore the universe together, or joined with random travellers online
  • Help friends stay alive, or prey on others to survive
  • Build shelter or complex colonies together to share with your team
  • Fight as a pirate or a wingman in epic space battles with friends and enemies
  • Race exocraft across weird alien terrains, creating race tracks and trails to share online

Extensive Visual Overhaul:

  • Play in third or first person, both on-foot and in ship
  • Gaze on planetary rings and improved space visuals that make space more beautiful than ever
  • Explore dramatically improved planetary terrain generation, ground textures, water and clouds that bring the environment to life
  • Enjoy significantly more detail added to ships, NPCs and buildings

Unlimited Base Building:

  • Build bases anywhere on any planet, with hundreds of new base parts added to the game
  • Create bigger and better bases than ever before, with dramatically increased base building complexity and size limits
  • Architect and own multiple bases

Command Freighters:

  • Assemble and upgrade a fleet of frigates and command them from the bridge of your freighter
  • Send your fleet out to into the universe or deploy them to help you as you explore a specific system
  • Build a truly custom capital ship with improved freighter base building
  • Invite your friends aboard and take on challenging multiplayer missions from the Galactic Commision Station on your bridge

Continue here to read the full story.

Dauntless Celebrates 2M Players; The Coming Storm Coming Next Month

Phoenix Labs announces more than two million players have checked out Dauntless since the launch of their co-op action/RPG into open beta testing. They celebrate the milestone by saying The Coming Storm is coming on August 9th, adding a free content expansion to the free-to-play game. Here's the plan:

Phoenix Labs, an independent development studio dedicated to making games for players to share for years to come, today announced that their free-to-play co-op Action-RPG Dauntless has hit a pivotal 2 million player milestone since launching into Open Beta in late May, 2018. To celebrate the milestone, Phoenix Labs has announced that the next major content expansion in Dauntless, The Coming Storm, will further evolve the Shattered Isles for players worldwide on August 9th - all free to play.

The Coming Storm begins when an Ostian Dreadnaught, bristling with industrial might and an indignant crew, crashes into Ramsgate, the central hub in Dauntless, reshaping the sprawling city and introducing players to a variety of new NPCs, stories, and quests. A new Behemoth, Koshai, the Sovereign of Thorns, stirs beyond the horizon. Members of the Ostian faction also bring with them new technology. Players will be able to craft and wield new gear and weaponry to take on the Behemoth threat - including a explosive new grenades and the first truly ranged weapon: the Ostian Repeaters.

Players will notice a distinct (and deadly) change to the Behemoth ecosystem in The Coming Storm as the introduction of Koshai causes the other beasts to evolve and change beyond their usual behavior and form. Expect a new spin of classic encounters and keep Slayers’ skills honed.

“The Dauntless community is one of the most vocal and passionate groups of people in gaming, and they’ve helped us shape Dauntless into what it is today, and what it will become in the future,” said Jesse Houston, CEO and co-founder of Phoenix Labs. “With The Coming Storm we’re putting community feedback into action , debuting the first fully ranged weapon, and players will see a decidedly new and fresh Dauntless experience on August 9.”

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Zombies Trailer

A new trailer from Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 shows off more of the zombie content in the upcoming military shooter sequel. The clip shows off sailor zombies, swimming zombies, time-travelling zombies, and even a tiger zombie along with combat in ancient times using future weapons. Here's more on the clip along with details on a zombie panel Activision is presenting on Thursday at the San Diego Comic Con:

Scarlett Rhodes is out to solve her eccentric father’s mysterious disappearance. With the help of three loyal outcasts, she’ll fight waves of the undead and uncover a prized relic wielding an extraordinary power that threatens all of humanity.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 delivers the biggest Day 1 Zombies offering ever with three full experiences at launch: IX, Voyage of Despair, and Blood of the Dead. With an exciting new adventure and a brand-new cast of characters, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s Zombies will feature the deep gameplay and Easter eggs that its fans have come to expect.

Also, those in attendance at San Diego Comic Con this week, come check out the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Zombies Panel:

  • When: Thursday, July 19 at 1:00pm-2:00pm, Room #6BCF
    • Treyarch's Jason Blundell (Sr. Executive Producer) and Craig Houston (Lead Writer) celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Call of Duty's Zombies and discuss what's next for the studio's signature undead in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Patches

On Sale

Evening Interviews

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Apologies for the problems with the forums today, which are currently offline due to ongoing technical issues. While it initially looked like Frans was able to quickly clear things up, the problem recurred, so the forums remain offline. It's possible this will be cleared up overnight, but it's at least equally possible it will not. I will try and keep everyone updated about the situation as we learn more. Any patience you can muster for this in the meantime is appreciated.

Link of the Day: Bohemian Rhapsody - Official Trailer [HD].

German Preorders Will Require Set Release Dates

Germany will no longer allow pre-orders of items that have what a machine translation of a German article on Heise Online calls "vague" release dates. This was spurred by a complaint over a cell phone order, but Eurogamer correctly notes that there are few industries with as many uncertain release dates as game development, so this will have an impact on our hobby. The article indicates pre-sales in Germany will require a release date, but there is no word on what happens if such a date turns out to me inaccurate. This will inevitably come up, though, because like vague dates, there are also few industries (outside of defense contracting) with more product delays than game development. Here's more translated text:

In the opinion of the judges, this indeterminate statement regarding the delivery of online goods orders violates the legal duty of information of the seller. This means that customers have to learn specifically before the click on the order button, until exactly when the goods are delivered at the latest - information that the statement "soon available" remains guilty.

Gearbox Hiring Code Proofreader

Gearbox Software is now advertising for a Programming Copy Editor, a position which carries a single responsibility, to review all code for typos (thanks VG247). This comes just days after focus was drawn to how a single typo significantly impaired the artificial intelligence in Aliens Colonial Marines, and it's hard to imagine that this is a coincidence.

PUBG Testing (Possibly Premium) Custom Matches

An announcement on Steam has word that the ability to create custom games for PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS is now available to all players on the test server for the Battle Royale game. They have made some improvements to the custom game UI as part of the testing, and they offer screenshots and other details on what's new. They also note that while custom game creation is free during testing, they may add a charge for this service down the road to offset "the extremely large amount of resources required." Here's more:

Earlier this year, we promised to make custom matches available for more players. As our first step towards fulfilling that promise, we’re making custom match access available to everyone on our test servers. Our plan is to expand this test to live servers, once the system is proven to be stable.

When you create your own custom match, you can play PUBG your way. Customize every aspect of the game, from circle behavior, item/vehicle spawn rates, to loadouts and more. You can even create and customize War Mode and Zombie Mode game types, then invite as many (or few) players as you want to join. Create private matches for friends, or public games so the whole world can enjoy your creation.

Remember that this is a test, so some elements might be rough and we’ll need your feedback about the system. Is it easy to find games and create games? How easy is it to get a full lobby? What could be improved with the feature? Just let us know in the comments here (or anywhere else where we have an official presence), and we’ll continue to iterate over time to improve custom matches. Please be aware that if demand for custom matches is unexpectedly high, servers could become unreliable. We’ll keep you updated and fix problems quickly as they arise.

Throughout the open beta, custom games creation will be limited to 10,000 concurrent running games to ensure a stable service. Creating custom matches won't have an associated cost during this phase. However, due to the extremely large amount of resources required to allow custom games to be available to all players, we may change this in the future to ensure everything runs smoothly and the system remains sustainable long-term. We're open to your feedback on this system and we'll have more details on this aspect of the system later.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War Adds Content, Closes Market

WBIE announces a new patch is now live in Middle-earth: Shadow of War with significant changes and new content for the Tolkien-inspired action/RPG. This also marks the final closure of the game's marketplace, after they removed the ability to buy gold a couple of months ago. Here's more on what's new and different:

  • Removal of the Market: The market and microtransactions have been completely removed from Shadow of War. Orcs recruited through Online Vendettas and Ranked Conquests will now be stored in the Garrison, and in-game Mirian can now be used to train, upgrade and customize your personal Orc army.
  • Changes to the Shadow Wars: Renamed the Epilogue, the post-campaign has been vastly streamlined to include new narration from Shelob, the Witch-king and Dark Talion. Victory in the Epilogue rewards players with the Masks of the Nazgûl, unlocks powerful new abilities to raise the dead, curse enemies and summons more powerful monsters. And players also have the option to continue upgrading and defending their fortresses and army in Mordor after the final credits conclude.
  • More Ways to Customize & Build Your Character: The follower level cap has now been increased to 80 and the enemy Captain level cap has been increased to 85. Plus, players can level up faster with greater XP rewards for Nemesis Missions, defeating Captains and Online Conquests. New Prestige Skills are available and offer incremental upgrades to skills. Players can also spend Mirian to upgrade gear to current levels by completing the upgrade challenge, and these gear upgrades now allow players to re-roll abilities for the perfect combo.
  • Nemesis Improvements: There are more Legendary Orcs to encounter, more ways to get Training Orders (incl. Legendary Training Orders) and followers can now surprise players with the occasional gift. And if any followers are too keen to help out and have been stealing kills, there is now the option to turn off the Savior feature in the menu.
  • New Player Skins: Players can now take the fight to Sauron as Celebrimbor, reliving the first War for Mordor, or battle as Dark Eltariel and Baranor.

Clicker Heroes 2 Early Access

Early Access to Clicker Heroes 2 is now available through the official website and on Steam, offering a crack at the beta version of this "endless incremental idle" action/RPG. This trailer celebrates the news, and the announcement outlines what players can expect in exchange for all that clicking:

Clicker Heroes 2 is a game about the feeling of getting amazing powerups. You will embark on a never-ending journey to defeat mythical creatures, progressing through an infinite number of worlds. There will always be another upgrade. Beta participants can look forward to playing as Cid, The Helpful Adventurer, the first of many other new heroes in development.

Additional key features available in the beta for Clicker Heroes 2 include:

  • Infinite Progress: Hop from zone to zone to defeat monsters and purchase gear and upgrades that will help you reach higher zones. Once you’re strong enough, advance from world to world where you’ll find even more powerful monsters and unlock even better upgrades!
  • Skills: Unlock tons of satisfying skills to help you kill monsters faster. Big Clicks, Huge Click, Multiclick, and more. Find the perfect combination and rotation for maximum DPS!
  • Worlds: Conquer a vast amount of worlds and defeat their unique monsters in search of more gold and experience!
  • Automator: Customize “The Automator” to play the game for you while you’re away. Automatically buy new gear, level up, and create complex skill combos. Maximize your efficiency by crafting the perfect Automator sequences.
  • Massive Skill Tree: Choose your own path to success with hundreds of amazing upgrades for your stats and skills in the massive skill tree. Play the game the way you want to!

Continue here to read the full story.

Assetto Corsa Competizione Announcement Plans

Publisher 505 Games and developer Kunos Simulazioni and announce plans to offer hands-on demonstrations of Assetto Corsa Competizione to some attendees of the Total 24 Hours of Spa endurance race in Belgium later this month. They also say they will take that opportunity to announce an Early Access release date for this upcoming realism-oriented racing simulation, suggesting users tune in to their 24 hour livestream on Facebook, which seems like quite the commitment. Meanwhile, the demonstation of the game at the race is referred to as an "e-sports initiative," and the best virtual drivers will be honored for real on the podium. Here's word:

Assetto Corsa Competizione, the new official Blancpain GT Series game developed by Kunos Simulazioni and published by 505 Games, will be playable in the paddock area of the Spa-Francorshamps circuit (Stavelot, Belgium), during the “Total 24 Hours of Spa” endurance race, thanks to a special videogame tournament promoted by Pirelli and AK Informatica. SRO Motorsports Group, organizer of the Blancpain GT Series, is officially supporting this exclusive event, occurring during the illustrious Total 24 Hours of Spa motor racing competition.

All attendees with authorized access to the Pirelli Activation Area may take part in this exclusive event in to get a hands-on preview of the upcoming Assetto Corsa Competizione.

This is the first e-sports initiative proposed by SRO Motorsports Group for the Blancpain GT Series E-Sport, supported by Pirelli, AK Informatica, RSeat and Fanatec with amazing rewards for the best drivers. Additionally, the top three virtual pilots of Assetto Corsa Competizione will be officially celebrated on the circuit podium. Additional support from partners includes:

Pirelli, worldwide leader in the production of on-road and racing tires, will stage the event in its Activation Area, offering captivating competitions such as the “Pit Stop Challenge”.

AK Informatica, official esports partner of Kunos Simulazioni, will deploy a set of top-class gaming PCs to deliver the best racing experience, and will oversee the esports services technical management, offering a memorable experience to participants.

RSeat Europe, renowned manufacturer of virtual racing rigs, will present to the Spa Francorchamps audience the brand new RSeat S1 cockpit, which offers a fully immersive driving realism to the most demanding sim racers.

Fanatec will allow virtual drivers to challenge the hotlap competition relying on the finest precision offered by the Clubsport Wheelbase V2.5 wheels and the Clubsport V3 racing pedals.

That’s not all: During the racing weekend, Kunos Simulazioni will publicly announce the release date of Assetto Corsa Competizione onto Steam Early Access. Tune into the Assetto Corsa Facebook page during the Total 24 Hours of Spa for the live-streamed announcement: https://www.facebook.com/Assetto.Corsa/

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Out of the Blue

The summer heat is being so oppressive around these parts that the Gunnar-man and I have started taking our walks at the crack of dawn to keep from cooking. Daytime temps have been near or in the 90s for most of the summer so far, and it's just too much for either of us to try and make it through that. It's actually hard enough to avoid overheating even with the schedule change, as it was in the 70s when we headed out at 6:30, but the humidity was 94%, which is still pretty oppressive. Thankfully that humidity levels drop as the day goes on, since if it stayed that high as the temps raised it would be like living in the Amazon, and it's more than tropical enough around here as it is.

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