Updated: Sep 19, 2019 2:10 pm Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -04:00)
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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019 Talk Like a Pirate Day. Arrr!

Batman Arkham Collection and LEGO Batman Trilogy Free on the Epic Games Store

This week's new freebies are now available from the Epic Games Store (thanks Michael). They pay off on last week's mysterious Batman teaser with a Batman Free Week, offering no fewer than six Batman games that are free to keep if you pick them up before next Thursday. These are contained in two trilogy anthologies, the Batman Arkham Collection and the LEGO Batman Trilogy. These comprise Batman: Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Edition, Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition, Batman: Arkham Knight, LEGO Batman: The Videogame, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, and LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. They also reveal Everything and Metro: 2033 Redux are the two games that will be free next week in what they call the Free Games Collection. Here's a rundown on today's Batman collections:

Batman Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Edition
Critically acclaimed Batman: Arkham Asylum returns with a remastered Game of the Year Edition, featuring 4 extra Challenge Maps. The additional Challenge Maps are Crime Alley; Scarecrow Nightmare; Totally Insane and Nocturnal Hunter (both from the Insane Night Map Pack).

Batman Arkham City Game of the Year Edition
Batman: Arkham City builds upon the intense, atmospheric foundation of Batman: Arkham Asylum, sending players flying through the expansive Arkham City - five times larger than the game world in Batman: Arkham Asylum - the new maximum security "home" for all of Gotham City's thugs, gangsters and insane criminal masterminds. Featuring an incredible Rogues Gallery of Gotham City's most dangerous criminals including Catwoman, The Joker, The Riddler, Two-Face, Harley Quinn, The Penguin, Mr. Freeze and many others, the game allows players to genuinely experience what it feels like to be The Dark Knight delivering justice on the streets of Gotham City.

Batman Arkham Knight
Batman™: Arkham Knight brings the award-winning Arkham trilogy from Rocksteady Studios to its epic conclusion. Developed exclusively for New-Gen platforms, Batman: Arkham Knight introduces Rocksteady's uniquely designed version of the Batmobile. The highly anticipated addition of this legendary vehicle, combined with the acclaimed gameplay of the Arkham series, offers gamers the ultimate and complete Batman experience as they tear through the streets and soar across the skyline of the entirety of Gotham City. In this explosive finale, Batman faces the ultimate threat against the city that he is sworn to protect, as Scarecrow returns to unite the super criminals of Gotham and destroy the Batman forever.

LEGO Batman Trilogy
The LEGO Batman Trilogy Pack offers players an unprecedented opportunity to experience the complete LEGO Batman saga. Enjoy where it all began in Gotham with LEGO Batman: The Videogame. Continue the adventure as the Dynamic Duo teams up with the Justice League for the first time in LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. Then, explore the outermost reaches of the DC Universe as the Justice League and Legion of Doom combine forces to thwart the villainous Brainiac in LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.

A Total War Saga: TROY Officially Announced

SEGA and Creative Assembly officially announce A Total War Saga: TROY, a new installment in the historical strategy series. This will come to Windows PCs via Steam in 2020, and Feral Interactive announced macOS and Linux editions should follow shortly thereafter. This news comes after the title was spotted on a magazine cover (this was actually first revealed in August through a trademark). They say this will go back to the Bronze Age, the earliest era ever covered by a Total War game. They also confirm the game will eschew historical accuracy by embracing some of the mythical creatures featured in Homer's Iliad. Here's the Announce Trailer, and there's a FAQ to answer any burning questions this raises. Here's the announcement:

SEGA® Europe Ltd. today announced Creative Assembly's thrilling new strategy title reconstructing one of the greatest stories ever told, A Total War Saga: TROY™. Inspired by Homer's Iliad, TROY will let you forge a heroic legacy in the late Bronze Age, the furthest back in time the critically acclaimed franchise has ever travelled.

In TROY, the fate of Aegean civilisation will be in your hands; each choice you make will shape the lands from the mythical heights of Mount Olympus to the arid deserts of Lemnos. Experience history as it may have happened or shape the legend for yourself in this unique chapter of Total War™.

Homer's Iliad is rich with myth, legends, gods and monsters. TROY casts these stories through a historical lens to consider what might have really happened but ultimately lets you decide which heroes will fall in battle and which will be immortalised in legend.

The battlefields will tremble under the feet of renowned warriors like Achilles and Hector but it will take more than brute force alone to lay claim to the legendary city of Troy. You will need to deftly manage a barter economy, conduct diplomacy among friends and foes, and curry the very favour of the Gods themselves before etching your name in the annals of history.

Total War Saga titles channel the grand strategy and real-time battles of a core Total War game into an intense flashpoint in time, letting you determine the outcome of pivotal moments in history. This change in scope and perspective makes Total War Saga the perfect home for innovation, often leading to new ideas that go on to influence future tentpole titles.

A Total War Saga: TROY will release on Steam for PC in 2020. Add it to your wish list here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1099410

Continue here to read the full story.

For Honor Season 3 Event Begins

Ubisoft announces that a new Wrath of the Jormungandr Season 3 event is now live in For Honor, their melee combat game. This includes a limited-time game mode called Ragnarok, which sadly does not involve Thor. There are also new outfits, themed weapons, and a new execution. Here's a Wrath of Jörmungandr Cinematic Trailer and Ubisoft is holding a Livestream on YouTube for this which should kick off in about a half-hour. Here are the details:

Today, Ubisoft announces the Year 3 Season 3 For Honor® in-game event, Wrath of the Jormungandr starting today until October 3 at 6am PT. With more than 20 million players, For Honor is available on PlayStation®4 entertainment system, the Xbox One family of devices including the Xbox One X and Windows PC. For Honor is now available on UPLAY+,* Ubisoft’s subscription service.

The in-game event will come with a special limited-time game mode, Ragnarok, which transforms the Breach game mode in celebration of the Jormungandr, their Hamarr, and the map Storr Stronghold. Players will have the chance to wield The Mighty Hammer, creating remarkable combat with opponents in this special version of Breach mode. The Hammer is spawned by the deadly Sea Serpent, and will change the moveset of each character, adding two new special abilities to take on enemy factions:

  • Chain Lightning: An ability that does medium damage and has a small knockback, and jumps to nearby enemies.
  • Ground Smash: A one shot area of effect attack on the ground at the position of the wielder.

The event also introduces a new Battle Outfit, Storr Champion, as well as fantastical Illustrious Outfits, flowing with the true spirit of the Serpent. In addition, the event also adds a new execution, Rampage of Ragnarok, as well as themed weapons.

Year 3, Season 3 ’Hulda’ brought players the Jormungandr, a feral warrior who is part of the Viking Faction of For Honor. Following the events in Dead Shades, another legendary battle marked Heathmoor's history. During Year 3 Season 1, Campaign 1, the Knights had conquered most of the continent. As they marched on Valkenheim, they clashed with the Vikings of Thornfinn Coast in Battle 28. To everyone's surprise, the Vikings held the fortress, repelled all enemies from the North, and won all the remaining campaigns. The Wrath of the Jormungandr event tells the battle that led the Vikings on a path to absolute victory in Year 3 Season 1.

Continue here to read the full story.

Rainbow Six Siege Permanent Ban Wave

Ubisoft announces plans for a ban wave for Rainbow Six Siege to remove the worst offenders behind DoS and DDoS attacks in the tactical shooter. In a post on Reddit Ubisoft confirms that these bans will be permanent (thanks PCGamesN). They also say they are initiating legal action against attackers and those providing them services. Here's the plan:

DDOS, DOS, AND OUR NEXT STEPS
We have monitored an increase in the amount of DDoS and DoS attacks against our servers following the release of Operation Ember Rise. Below you will find our next steps for how we plan to address the situation and move forward.

NEXT STEPS

BAN WAVES

We have identified the worst offenders perpetuating these DDoS/DoS attacks, and will be initiating a ban wave. This will apply to both PC and Console players.
Impact: Players that have been found to be initiating DDoS/DoS attacks will be banned.
Target: Next Week, will continue as needed

REDUCING MATCHES PER SERVER
We currently host 3 matches per server. When a server crashes, or when a DDoS/DoS attack occurs, this results in 3 matches being impacted and taken offline. We are splitting this to have each server host a single match to reduce the impact
Impact: 66% reduction in the impact of DDoS/DoS attacks.
Target: End of this week

REMOVE ESCALATING ABANDON SANCTION
We have noted the unintended consequences of the escalating abandon sanction on players impacted by DDoS/DoS attacks. We are disabling this feature to reduce the longer term impact that is felt by legitimate players.
Impact: Reduce impact felt by legitimate players after a match has been ended via DDoS/DoS/Soft Booting.
Target: End of this week

Continue here to read the full story.

Borderlands 3 Hotfix and Troubleshooting Tips

The Gearbox Software Forums have details on a new hotfix that's now automatically available for Borderlands 3. Word is: "We are aware that the below list does not include issues that the community is immediately concerned with. We are hard at work evaluating performance problems and potential solutions for them. In the meantime, these are some balance updates that we can do quickly." Also, a new Borderlands 3 Troubleshooting and Optimization Guide is online. Here's are Gearbox's suggestions for PC players:

Cloud Saves resulting in lost progress or empty Player Banks

  • Epic has deployed a hotfix for Borderlands 3 that should address issues with Cloud Saves going forward; we will continue to monitor the hotfix and verify that this issue has been resolved. If you'd like to take every precaution possible, you can disable Cloud Saves for Borderlands 3 via the Epic Games launcher.

Framerate/performance issues

  • Set the Graphics API to DirectX 11 in the Options menu; this specific option is located in the Visuals menu, under the Advanced tab, then the General section.
  • Reduce the Volumetric Fog setting in the Options menu; this specific option is located in the Visuals menu, under the Advanced tab, then the Graphics section.

Cutscenes not displaying properly in ultrawide resolution

  • Turn "FidelityFX Sharpening" to "Off" in the Options menu; this specific option is located in the Visuals menu, under the Advanced tab.

Natural Selection 2 Adds New Map

Unknown Worlds announces details on a new Update 329 that's now live in Natural Selection 2, their first-person shooter/RTS hybrid. This includes the release of ORIGIN, a new remake of one of the maps from the first Natural Selection. The update also includes the ability to earn a new skin along with balance changes and a new menu. They also note that this marks the game's official move from DirectX 11 to DirectX 12 and that they are dropping the game's Linux client, though they will continue to support Linux dedicated servers. Here's word:

Our newest official map, ORIGIN, a remake of the NS1 map, holds the answers to the Origins of Kharaa and is now available to play. You can earn the special Abyss Gorge skin after playing five rounds, but hurry as this skin is only available for a limited time! Thank you to pSyk for all his hard work on re-creating this classic map and to our map testing crew for all of their time reviewing and assisting on the map.

Update 329 also brings another set of balance changes aimed at creating more variation of play and strategy. A new menu system has been designed and built for a better player customizing experience and allows for easier implementation of future features to come. We have officially moved to DirectX 11 and added support for Temporal Anti-Aliasing, both of which can help produce better quality of play and visual upgrades to your game. Additional changes to other official maps have also been added to support better gameplay and help new players learn the maps.

A reminder that with the release of 329 we have officially dropped support for the Linux client of NS2. We will continue to support and update the Linux Dedicated Server. For those using the Linux client, you can still play NS2 via the Steam Play compatibility tools (Proton). Proton is still in Beta and being actively developed so there may be some features or functions that do not work. We have confirmed that playing the game while connecting to a dedicated server does work and in some cases the performance is much improved from the Linux client.

Best Games of the Century List

A new article on The Guardian undertakes the chore of ranking the 50 best video games of the 21st century, something sure to generate arguments along with clicks. Here's their take on the top 10:

  1. Minecraft (2009)
  2. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  3. Dark Souls (2011)
  4. Half-Life 2 (2004)
  5. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)
  6. Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
  7. Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)
  8. Portal 2 (2011)
  9. BioShock (2007)
  10. Bloodborne (2015)

Morning Patches

Morning Multiplex

Morning Crowdfunding

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

It's Thursday, so participants in our Pigskin Pick'em pool should get in their selection for tonight's game. Also, I mentioned the rough start to the week in my fantasy football debut. Sure enough, after scoring the most points in week one by a margin of about 35(!), I came within six points of having the fewest points in week two. I'll have to talk with my players about consistency. Finally, in the world of the actual NFL, my hometown Giants announce they will start rookie Daniel Jones this week, seemingly bringing the Eli Manning era to a conclusion. This was inevitable when they drafted Jones at number six, and I'm okay with it. At 0-2, the team's playoff prospects are already crippled. This is not really Eli's fault, but either way the time is right for the kid to start getting some real game experience under his belt. Like most Giants fans, I have an abiding affection for Eli and his two amazing Super Bowl runs. He is clearly one of the team's all-time greats, and I fully support the idea he belongs in the hall-of-fame. Here's a salute and a thank you to #10.

Pigskin Links: Thanks Ant.
Stories: Two Amish men escape police after being pulled over for drinking and driving their horse and buggy.
Monstrous 400-pound Feral Hog Invades Texas Golf Course, Is Caught and Tied Alive. Thanks Acleacius.
Impossible Foods is entering the fake meat grocery game.
Science: The end of aging: Are you ready to live to 150?
The World Is ‘Grossly’ Unprepared for the Next Major Pandemic, Watchdog Finds.
Longer-Lasting Avocados Hit the Shelves at Some Kroger’s Stores This Week. Thanks LinkedIn.
Media: What streaming on Twitch actually looks like - Streamer.
Meet the couple with the world's largest Garfield collection.
US Navy confirms previously released UFO videos show 'unidentified aerial phenomena.'
Follow-up: What Really Brought Down the Boeing 737 Max?
The Funnies: xkcd: Ksp 2.


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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Ghost Recon Breakpoint Open Beta Next Week

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint will get three days of open beta testing on all platforms starting on September 26th, according to an announcement on the official website. There is also a new live-action Squad Up Trailer (NSFW) featuring Lil Wayne in the role of Leroy Jenkins. They offer complete details on what content will be included in the beta along with apologies that progress will not carry over to the full game when it launches. Here's what to expect:

We just announced that from September 26th to September 29th, we will be conducting the Open Beta of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

Thanks to everyone’s feedback from the Closed Beta, our teams were able to apply many changes and improvements to the game. All of which can be found in our upcoming Closed Beta to Open Beta improvements article – coming on September 19.

Below are the details on pre-load and access times, as well as content that will be available for you to play.

GAMEPLAY CONTENT
During the Open Beta, you have access to several regions, missions, and modes to test out in 4 player co-op or solo! For everyone who already participated in the Closed Beta, you will find the new additional content in the Open Beta marked below.

PVP - NEW!
For the very first time our Beta players will be able to try out Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s PvP mode, Ghost War! Battle it out against other Ghosts in this competitive mode to test your skills.

  • Four Maps: Skell Port, PMC Camp, Cold War Bunker and Deserted Harbor.
  • One Mode: Elimination.

Continue here to read the full story.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Beta Specs

A post on the Activision Blog discusses the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta that's about to come to Windows. This offers a detailed rundown of PC-specific features that will allow players to fine-tune the game to their control preferences and system. Speaking of systems, this includes minimum and recommended system specifications:

Here are the minimum specs needed to play the Beta:

  • Requires DirectX 12 compatible system
  • OS: Windows 7 64-Bit (SP1) or Windows 10 64-Bit (1709 or later)
  • CPU: Intel Core i5 2500k or AMD equivalent
  • Video: Nvidia GeForce GTX 670 2GB / GTX 1650 4GB or AMD Radeon HD 7950
  • RAM: 8GB RAM
  • HDD: 45GB HD space
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible

And here are recommended specs:

  • Requires DirectX 12 compatible system
  • OS: Windows 10 64 Bit (latest Service Pack)
  • CPU: Intel Core i7 4770k or AMD equivalent
  • Video: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB / GTX 1660 6GB or AMD Radeon R9 390 / AMD RX 580
  • RAM: 16GB RAM
  • HDD: 45GB HD space
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible

Herogrinder Demo

Herogrinder: Tactical Combat Arenas is an online, simultaneous turn-based, multiplayer, tactical arena combat game that will be free-to-play when it launches on Steam. In the meantime there's a demo on Steam that allows you to customize a character for the game, and they are running a contest to a 3D printed model to the best creations of the month. This trailer shows off the game's reality TV/gameshow premise, and here are more details on Herogrinder, not to be confused with Subhoagie or Sandwichsandwich:

Herogrinder is an online free-to-play simultaneous turn-based multiplayer tactical arena combat game developed in Unity3D. The game takes place in a retro cyberpunk setting where players manage and fight with custom grown, programmable organisms called bioroids.

In Herogrinder, players enter tactical combat arenas solo or with a team of 4 bioroid fighters to play versus and co-op matches, or tournaments. Bioroids are fully customizable in design, abilities, and equipment so each one is totally unique in style and tactical characteristics. As contestants win battles, they gain credits and experience to level up and to access and restock equipment. With each new level achieved, players can upgrade their bioroids with conditioning programs (feats) and items, along with clearance levels for experimental technologies. There are also over 20 preset character advancement progressions for those who want to level up quickly.

Using simultaneous turns, there are no wait times between actions. Players can assign all their actions at the same time and the round is resolved simultaneously as well, in a highlights video that is unique to the player’s view. Offensive and defensive ready actions with multiple presets can be used to counter enemy moves and get ahead of their game.

Continue here to read the full story.

Disco Elysium

ZA/UM announces that Disco Elysium will boogie onto Windows PCs on October 15th through GOG.com and Steam. Here's a Release Date & Features Trailer along with some details on this game, which at one time carried the title No Time for the Furies (not to be confused with No Time for the Furries):

Disco Elysium is a groundbreaking open world role playing game with an insane amount of choice and consequence. You’re a detective with a unique skill system at your disposal and a whole city block to carve your path across. Interrogate unforgettable characters, crack murders or take bribes. Be a hero, a prophet, a madman and the greatest detective the world has ever seen.

You’ve never played anything like it.

  • Over 60 hours of game time in a unique urban fantasy setting.
  • An open world you can approach in any order – the bad part of the bad part of town with unforgettable characters.
  • One massive open-ended case and tons of side investigations.
  • Countless tools for role-playing: 24 mad skills to upgrade, over 80 different clothing items to wear, 12 tools to use, 8 psychoactive substances to discover, more than 50 unique "thoughts" to analyze and so on.
  • A hauntingly beautiful original soundtrack by British Sea Power.

Continue here to read the full story.

Planet Zoo Beta Access with Deluxe Edition Preorders

Frontier Developments announces beta testing of Planet Zoo begins on next week, promising access to anyone who preorders the Deluxe Edition of the theme park sim on Steam. This sounds similar to Early Access, but the beta will run from September 24 to October 8th, so it ends well before the game's official launch on November 5th (not to mention the extra ten bucks the Deluxe Edition will set you back). A new Beta Gameplay Trailer shows things off and the announcement has more on the beta and other deluxe bonuses:

The Planet Zoo Beta begins next week on September 24 and running through October 8. The beta will feature the first scenario from Planet Zoo’s Career mode, a biome from Franchise mode and is available to fans who pre-order on Steam.

  • Career Mode: A new story awaits in Planet Zoo’s narrative-driven Career mode. Players will be introduced to a cast of colorful characters in a globe-trotting campaign, placing them in charge of zoos around the world. The Planet Zoo Beta includes the first scenario, introducing players to zoo management and a selection of animals from the full game, including a number of as-yet unrevealed animals.
  • Franchise Mode: And sandbox meets simulation in Franchise mode where players can build, manage, research and develop their own zoo franchise alongside a global community of Planet Zoo players. The Franchise mode Beta features Planet Zoo’s online Animal Exchange where players can trade animals to increase genetic diversity and well being in their zoo. At launch, Franchise mode will introduce Daily Challenges and weekly Community Goals that will unite Planet Zoo community behind a shared objective.

Pre-Order Details:
Planet Zoo is available to pre-order now on the Steam online store. The Planet Zoo Deluxe Edition includes the Planet Zoo game plus bonus content, including:

  • Beta access on September 24.
  • Three exclusive animals: Komodo Dragon, Pygmy Hippopotamus, Thomson’s Gazelle.
  • High-quality wallpapers.
  • Original Soundtrack by JJ Ipsen.

Continue here to read the full story.

ACE COMBAT 7: SKIES UNKNOWN Unexpected Visitor Next Week

BANDAI NAMCO announces Unexpected Visitor is coming next week to ACE COMBAT 7: SKIES UNKNOWN, bringing the latest DLC to the aerial combat game. Here's a trailer on the DLC and the Season Pass showing off a mission. Named after the ruination of many a date night, here are the details on Unexpected Visitor:

ACE COMBAT wouldn’t be ACE COMBAT if it didn’t feature over-the-top missions & bosses and the next batch of heart-pounding missions that are on the way will be packed with explosive action. The missions will feature a myriad of mission types and enemies, including the appearance of a submersible aircraft carrier that’s sure to wreak havoc in the skies of ACE COMBAT 7: SKIES UNKNOWN. The next ACE COMBAT 7: SKIES UNKNOWN DLC mission, “Unexpected Visitor” is coming to the Americas on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PCs via STEAM on September 25, 2019.

Continue here to read the full story.

Tamarin This Year

Chameleon Games announces that Tamarin will launch in Q4 of this year, offering a third-person action/adventure created by Rare veterans. A new Adventure Trailer shows off the game's titular tamarin in action. Here's word on this chance to monkey around:

Chameleon Games announces the launch of third-person action-adventure Tamarin™ in Q4 2019 with the release of a new adventure trailer. Leap into action with the world’s cutest monkey, Tamarin, on a quest to save his home and family from the industrialization of the forest by invading insects. Tamarin will launch on PlayStation 4 and PC for $29.99 / €28.99. A Deluxe Edition that includes the soundtrack will be $39.99 / €35.99.

Tamarin channels the energy of 3D platformer classics and explorative Metroidvania shooters. Explore an incredible interconnected 3D world, brimming with primate platforming and bug-splattering shooter action. Leap with the agility of a tamarin as you journey into the Northern wilderness on scenic routes through forests, fjords and mountains. Along the way you will chase mysterious electrical fireflies, discover a secret underground world of dancing ants, rescue innocent birds, and restore the tamarins’ once idyllic natural habitat.

Director Omar Sawi has brought on an all-star cast from Rare’s golden era to help execute his creative vision for Tamarin and recapture the style and magical experiences they were famous for. To mention a few, Banjo-Kazooie character designer Steve Mayles helped craft the iconic new tamarins. Diddy Kong and Battletoads designer Kev Bayliss provided character concept art. Donkey Kong 64 artist Richard Vaucher leads the art production. And Donkey Kong Country and Starfox Adventures composer David Wise tunes in with a beautiful and atmospheric soundtrack – complemented by the impactful sound effects of action-game veteran Graeme Norgate (GoldenEye 007, Jet Force Gemini, Killer Instinct).

Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

Evening Patches

Evening Multiplex

Evening Interviews

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: How Michael Vick’s dogfighting case changed animal welfare. Good for them. Also, screw Michael Vick.

Stalker Online This Year

Mobile Technologies announces Stalker Online is coming later this year to desktop PCs, despite their "mobile" name. This MMOG seems to be the Russian project that ran into its own controversy a couple of years ago, as the Official game Trailer points to this Russian website, which carries a copyright notice dated 2010-2019. That site is home to this page where they offer beta signups. Here's word on the game:

Mobile Technologies LLC is excited to announce the upcoming open-world MMO Stalker Online. Inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film Stalker and the classic Stalker games, Stalker Online takes place in the world of Zone where the glory days of humanity are long lost, resources are scarce and dangers are around every corner. Stalker Online is set to release on Steam this fall.

Featuring a large open world that has been meticulously detailed, Stalker Online presents a desolate landscape with post soviet 90’s architecture. Players will have to explore the deep reaches of the zone if they wish to uncover its mysteries as well as collect valuable supplies to ensure their continued survival. Venturing out into the zone isn’t without its perils, mutants, anomalies, and other players await.

Incorporating RPG elements, players will gain experience and develop skills based on their desired playstyle, learn occupations and engage in free trade with other players. Stalker Online features realistic weapons and equipment, which players can upgrade to their liking. Players will also be able to gain reputation with various game factions, as well as choose to group up with others or go through the unforgiving world on their own. Having some respite from the harsh weather and volatile inhabitants is key and players will have the option to build their own base to retreat to.
Stalker Online Screenshot
A list of features include:

  • Massive open world
  • Recreated realms of the former USSR
  • Accurate post-soviet 90’s architecture
  • Realistic weapons and equipment
  • RPG elements with experience, skill, and profession systems
  • A player-driven economy with an open-trade system
  • Survive a harsh and desolate environment
  • Encounter mutants and anomalies
  • Solve the mysteries of the Zone
  • Interact and group up with other players or fight against others for valuable supplies

Continue here to read the full story.

Signs of the Sojourner Demo

Signs of the Sojourner is not due for release until early next year, but there's now a playable demo for this narrative-based card game on Steam. The previously released Indiegogo Announcement Trailer offers a look at the game, and Indiegogo is where to go if you want to support the project. "We will be using IndieGoGo rather than Kickstarter since it allows us to set a flexible funding goal," explains Dyala Kattan-Wright, the game's Creative Director. "Since the game will be released no matter what, this allows us to scale our additional plans depending on what is raised rather than the typical all-or-nothing campaigns." The doesn't really explain what to expect in the gameplay sojourn the demo offers, but it does talk about the game:

Combining sleek card game mechanics, endearing dialogue from narrative designer Kevin Snow (Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, Pathologic 2) and an introspective journey of homesickness, growth, and tasty food - Signs of the Sojourner takes a look at how we communicate with the people around us, and how much we change for them.

Wipe the dust from your mother's old store and follow her steps by travelling the roads, meeting new people and collecting snacks to sell when you return home. The welcoming 'sequence building' mechanic helps you play out conversations, as you craft your own story during your journeys, rather than focus on winning each encounter.

Continue here to read the full story.

No Man's Sky Event Launches

A new Beyond Development Update 2 has the latest from Hello Games on their ongoing work on No Man's Sky, and the Beyond update for the space exploration game. There are details on a new version 2.12 patch that's now live. They also have images and details on a bunch of free rewards they are giving away in a new event that's underway as of today. Here's more on that:

It has been a few weeks since our last blog post, and we wanted to share a little more news from the studio.

The team here are still working intensely to address high-priority issues, as well as to improve the overall polish and quality of life of the game. Update 2.12 has been released to all platforms today, with the long list of fixes and improvements available at the end of this post. However, we also have a larger feature to announce…

Community Research
Very soon, we will be launching a community event, with new content available to earn from the Space Anomaly. Each mission completed at the Nexus will contribute to a cross-reality target for all Travellers. Universal progress will unlock a series of exotic items synthesised by Polo’s robotic companion, available to purchase with Quicksilver.

As with every update, all this new content is completely free for all existing players – there are no microtransactions in No Man’s Sky.

The event commences today, and has no set deadline for completion. Progress may be tracked from the Galactic Atlas website, or from the Quicksilver Robot itself.

Apex Legends' Cryptic Crypto Clues

VG247 has details from Reddit on clues that Crypto is the next playable character coming to Apex Legends, Respawn's battle royale shooter. They use posts by FrozenFroh and ExoMadaraTv. Here's some of what they've put together on this:

The Apex Legends subreddit is full videos of people’s encounters with Crypto, who can be seen in Labs (east) behind protective glass working on something. To reach them, you need to kick open a door inside, which leads to a room where you can briefly watch him.

When they’re spotted, they quickly escape through a conveniently placed nearby exit. On the screen above him, you can see something called World’s Edge being referred to as the key, with an image that Reddit user ExoMadaraTv points out is identical to Titanfall space elevator, the same one you can see from the map Eden in Titanfall 2.

Crypto’s drone is also in the room with him, which indicates that some of the earlier leaks are accurate, to a certain degree, at least. One other hint Respawn dropped this week is having the banners (displaying top squad etc.) in King’s Canyon shutdown, which is believed to also be Crypto’s work.

It’s worth keeping in mind that Crypto may not in fact be the character’s name, that’s just what they were referred to in Apex Legends’ files. The longer Respawn teases the character, however, the better the name sticks, which could create a bit of pushback if their final name ends up being something else.

Troy: A Total War Saga Revealed

It looks like the theme of the next Total War Saga is revealed, as a post on Reddit from Mavus shows Troy: A Total War Saga on the cover of the new PC Gamer magazine (thanks VG247). There's not much else to go by besides their caption calling this an "Epic battle in a world of gods and monsters."

Elite Dangerous September Update

Frontier Developments announces the September Update is now rolling out for Elite Dangerous, their space exploration game. This adds the promised new starting experience as well as a new ARX currency system. Here are the details:

New Starter Experience

We've introduced a new starting experience meaning that it's easier to pick up Elite Dangerous than ever before!

Under the tutelage of Pilots Federation instructor, Theo Acosta, new Commanders will be led through a fully-voiced experience before being left to pilot their own starter ship, the Sidewinder! Throughout the experience, Commanders will learn the basics of space flight, scanning and combat as listed below:

  • Basic flight controls and scanning.
  • Supercruise and navigation.
  • A combat exercise around a megaship.
  • Completing one's first Hyperspace jump.
  • Docking at a starport.
  • All of the training will include voiceover across our supported languages.

This new starter experience will also be added to the existing list of training simulations, found on the internal panel of the Commander's cockpit, meaning even the most veteran of pilot can still experience it.

Continue here to read the full story.

Fortnite Batman Crossover?

IGN has details on what appear to be plans for a Batman event coming to Fortnite, Epic's battle royale/survival game. They cite twitter posts from Lucas7yoshi and FNBR leaks that show off datamined information on the topic from the latest Fortnite patch, showing plans for an explosive batarang, a grapnel gun, and Gotham City map. They say this may all arrive on Saturday, noting that September 21st is "Batman Day." Here's word:

The leaks have uncovered a new Explosive Batarang that is said to home in on enemies, or stick to walls and explode when other players wander too close. Also found in the Batman kit is the Dark Knight's trusty Grapnel Gun, which will provide new opportunities to quickly gain height. The item description reads, "Pull yourself towards a target location and then deploy the Bat Cape," suggesting it also provides one of Batman's most iconic costume elements.

There crossover update will also changes the map, with Tilted Towers set to be replaced by what looks like Gotham City. A list of new "Welcome to Gotham" challenges offer rewards like sprays and a glider for completing tasks that include "light a bat signal."

Summerfall Studios

A Summerfall Studios Website is online, home to a new Australian developer headed up by former BioWare and Beamdog writer David Gaider and former Beamdog producer Liam Esler (thanks MCV). There's a conversation with the pair on Kotaku Australia where they discuss plans for an "illustrated character-driven adventure" they plan on officially announcing next month. The website has word on when to expect this reveal and its accompanying Kickstarter:

We’re excited to announce the Kickstarter launch for Summerfall Studios’ first game, an illustrated character-driven adventure, at PAX Australia on October 11th, 10:30am AEST / October 10, 5:30pm PST. Live-streamed worldwide on Twitch.

Helmed by David Gaider and Liam Esler, Summerfall Studios will crush your dreams and tear out your heart… in the very best way.

Showdown Bandit Shows Up

Steam News announces the release of Showdown Bandit, a new stealthy survival/horror game for Windows from Kindly Beast. Here's the description, which refers to this as "episode one," so there may be more to expect from this:

Showdown Bandit: Episode One

Beware! For years kids tuned in to watch the televised puppet world of Showdown Bandit, whose colorful cast performed in front of a live audience of ecstatic children. Then without warning the show was unceremoniously canceled and the studio, props and puppets were left to rot. Yet somehow the show lives again and you're in the spotlight. Take control of the Bandit himself and explore the dilapidated sets of what was once glorious Showdown Valley in this top-down, stealth-action-horror game from the makers of Bendy.

Try not to lose your wits or your strings as you sneak through the shadowy sets past a menagerie of eerie enemies and helpful inhabitants. Fight ONLY when you must! Don't be afraid to explore the creepiest, darkest corners as even the smallest clues could help you answer the biggest question of all ... who is really pulling the strings?

PUBG Adding Survival Mastery

A Steam Community Announcement introduces Survival Mastery, a new progression feature coming to PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS to serve as "a companion system" to Weapon Mastery. This is now available on the test servers for the battle royale shooter and should come to the live game next week. This also comes along with PUBG ID, "a new way to express yourself and your achievements." Here's part of the update:

What is Survival Mastery?
Survival Mastery is a progression feature designed as a companion system to Weapon Mastery. Where Weapon Mastery is all about your proficiency in combat, Survival Mastery focuses on your story as a player. In other words, our goal with this system is to help you recognize your own abilities and reward your success after each match. You get to decide what kind of player you’re going to be.

The first thing you should notice in this system is your Survivor Level. Surviving bluezone phases, performing key actions and, well, just staying alive all play a role in how much XP you’ll earn towards your next Level. The better you perform, the faster you’ll progress.

Just like Weapon Mastery, all progress related to Survivor Mastery can be found in the Mastery menu under its own tab.

In addition to displaying your level progress in this tab, you can also track your recent playstyle through the trait system. Are you the type to pick up every bit of loot you see or a bit more picky about what goes into your inventory? Traits paint a picture of how you approach 6 different aspects of PUBG and the 3 most prominent of those traits are displayed here.

Morning Patches

Morning Multiplex

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Interviews

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

A big thanks to reader JZ Temple for figuring out what was triggering the malware warning here and posting it to the forums. It turned out to be an image embedded in the story about the Borderlands 3 hotfix. We almost never embed external images like that, so it seems fluky this went so badly, but I guess that's a lesson learned. The image, which is still present in the article, is hosted on cloudfront, and trying to open it in a new window continues to trigger warnings. It's probably a false positive, but I've removed the link to the image here, so the warnings here should go away, which is all that matters. Apologies for the scare, and thanks for alerting me to the problem.

Triggered Links: Thanks Ant.
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The world's first vagina museum is officially opening.
Stories: This year's flu season may be a bad one. Here's why you need a flu shot.
Non-binary pronouns are now dictionary official, alongside 'inspo' and 'dad joke.'
Hiker drags himself through rugged Australia woods for 2 days after breaking leg, arm.
Science: Air pollution particles found on foetal side of placentas. Thanks Acleacius.
Media: Impulse Season 2 Official Trailer. Thanks Acleacius.
Vox: Why this creepy melody is in so many movies.
You Need to Know About This Caterpillar.
Follow-up: Musk spent $50,000 digging into critic’s personal life.


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