Updated: Feb 23, 2018 5:54 pm Eastern Standard Time (GMT -05:00)
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Friday, Feb 23, 2018

More Sea of Thieves Scale Testing

The Sea of Thieves Website announces another Sea of Thieves Scale Test is underway to help put Rare's swashbuckling RPG through its paces. This is open to preorder customers, but Eurogamer says there also may still be time to get in by signing up for the Sea of Thieves Insider programme. There are instructions on joining in this post, and here's more on testing of the game:

What features are in this?
This will purposefully be a similar feature set to the Closed Beta, again restricted to the Gold Hoarders trading company and accompanying Voyages. The purpose of this test is to drive scale and test issues at a high scale of player concurrency. We will not be seeking feedback on the game experience itself.

Will there be another Beta?
We do plan on running another Beta closer to the launch of the game, where players will get a taste of the wider Sea of Thieves experience, but for now our focus is on our Scale Testing plans. We will have more to share on that as we get closer to launch.

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet Launches

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is now available on Steam, offering the Windows edition of BANDAI NAMCO's anime action/RPG. For a look a the game, check out the launch trailer, and for more details, read on:

BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc., the leading developer and publisher of anime video games, today announced the release of Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet, the latest entry in the action role-playing-game (RPG) series based on the popular anime franchise Sword Art Online. For the first time in the series’ history, players will be able to engage in third-person shooter action along with RPG gameplay that fans have come to know and love from the Sword Art Online franchise. Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is available now in the Americas for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, PCs via STEAM®, and Xbox One.

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet features an all new story supervised by Sword Art Online creator Reki Kawahara. In Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet, players will embark on an epic journey and become the hero of their own adventure as their choices determine how the game’s story unfolds. The game is filled with exhilarating combat, fast paced jumps and wall-to-wall traversing. Powered by Unreal Engine 4, Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet includes full multiplayer cooperative and competitive modes of up to eight players. In online co-op mode, players are enabled to assemble a team with three other friends and utilize each character’s unique skills to complete boss battle quests. The competitive battle mode splits players into two teams of four to compete against one another in a race to accumulate more damage points dealt against a boss while preventing the other team from scoring points.

“Sword Art Online has always had the compelling story and deep gameplay of a classic RPG series, and we are excited to take the franchise to the next level by adding third-person shooter gameplay into the mix,” said Randy Le, Associate Brand Manager at BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. “Adding these elements to the game will give fans a fast-paced experience that will blend well with the story. The team is excited to bring gamers a Sword Art Online game like they’ve never seen before.”

Heroes of the Storm Plans

A new developer update Q&A video talks with Blizzard's Alan Dabiri and Matthew Cooper about plans for Heroes of the Storm in 2018. They talk about their new way of rolling out new content for the game more gradually to allow additions and changes more time to shine. They also discuss plans for specific hero reworks "coming soon" to Medivh and Sonya. Medivh's changes include adding Masters Touch to his baseline kit, and they say his rework is an example of an effort they are putting in to address heroes, like him, who can be frustrating to play against. They say are happy with how Sonya plays right now, and then goes on to explain their reasons for reworking heroes, which likewise don't really justify changing Sonya (that sound you hear is Jimmy Raynor getting drunk). They say another rework will re-tune Lunara, but this is coming further down the road. Finally, they discuss reworking battlegrounds, touching on changes coming to Hanamura, though it sounds like they are just getting started on this over six months after removing the Overwatch-themed payload map from the game. They say they will also look at making smaller changes to some of the existing maps as an alternative to major revisions. Continue here to read the full story.

League of Legends Audio Upgrade Plans

The League of Legends Website announces that the next few patches for League of Legends will be larger than usual. Word is: "New software built by our tools team requires champions to be updated in your game install, and an audio engine update requires a re-patch of audio data. These updates will allow us to create even better in-game content and audio moving forward." The post has more details on plans for Riot's MMORPG, including an outline of the changes coming to the audio engine:

Audio team upgrading the audio engine:
Riot Eno here from the Audio team! For several years now, LoL has been using a third-party audio engine. One of our challenges right now is keeping the audio engine robust, sustainable, and supported—even Audio can have trouble finding a good support now and then. To ensure this, we need to update our audio engine, which requires a full re-patch of audio data. The upgraded engine will give us opportunities to improve the audio mix for League in the future, and allow us to continue delivering great sound. When we re-patch all the audio banks in 8.5 you’ll see a patch ranging from around 1.8-2.2 GB total. This number will vary depending on your location since some regions have larger VO size than others.

On Sale

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Funcom Announcement Plans

Funcom announces plans for an announcement, saying there's a timer counting down the seconds until the news on a dedicated Countdown 2 Zero Website (serving all your counting to zero needs since before zero). There's an image there to hint at what's going on, showing a bar and offering silhouettes of characters with "coming soon" captions." This all carries the suggestion that this setting is somewhat post-apocalyptic, as it is captioned "Booze helps when coming back from the Zone, but it does not last..." The bar also has the look of being pieced together from scraps, though we'd be lying if we said we've never been in bigger dives in the middle of modern civilization. At this rate it looks like the timer will hit zero on Wednesday morning.

Overwatch Tease

A tweet from Overwatch offers a cryptic post, so it seems Blizzard may be teasing the next hero coming to their multiplayer shooter. The post mentions a previously unrevealed Overwatch operative named Private First Class Emre Sarioglu. Grab your tinfoil hat and your decoder ring and see if you can work out their plans from the after-action report for Operation ZX24AL, "White Dome":

Strike team under the command of myself, CAPTAIN ANA AMARI, was deployed to the outskirts of Istanbul, Turkey to deal with a remaining pocket of omnic resistance. Personnel included Lieutenant Reinhart Wilhelm, Chief Engineer Torbjörn Lindholm, and Private First Class Emre Sarioglu. After routine insertion, the team was ambushed, taking heavy fire from the entrenched omnics. While the team was able to overcome and neutralize all hostile combatants without casualties, the battle resulted in serious injuries to Lindholm and lesser injury to Lt. Wilhelm. Had it not been for Lt. Wilhelm's timely intervention, it is likely that Lindholm would have been killed. Due to conspicuous bravery on the part of Lt. Wilhelm, I am suggesting a commendation for his actions.

D.I.C.E. Award Winners

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences announces the results of their 21st annual D.I.C.E. Awards, honoring the best video games of the previous year. Here's a bit: "The Academy membership honored games in 24 award categories, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild receiving four awards, making it the night’s most awarded game. Cuphead earned a total of three awards. Games honored with two awards each included Horizon Zero Dawn, Lone Echo/Echo Arena, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS and Snipperclips. Other top honorees were Fire Emblem Heroes for Mobile Game of the Year, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for Racing Game of the Year, Injustice 2 for Fighting Game of the Year, FIFA 18 for Sports Game of the Year, Snipperclips for the Sprite Award, and PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS for Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay." Here are the winners:

Game of the Year
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Outstanding Achievement in Game Design
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Immersive Reality Technical Achievement
Lone Echo/Echo Arena

Immersive Reality Game of the Year
Lone Echo/Echo Arena

Mobile Game of the Year
Fire Emblem Heroes

Handheld Game of the Year
Metroid: Samus Returns

D.I.C.E. Sprite Award
Snipperclips

Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay
PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS

Continue here to read the full story.

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 Beta

Fatshark announces the promised closed beta test is now underway for Warhammer: Vermintide 2, the upcoming sequel to Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide. They say anyone who previously signed up for a key will receive one, noting that high demand has delayed distribution by a bit. Additionally, they will provide a key to anyone who preorders the melee action sequel on Steam. Word is:

Independent developer Fatshark today announced that the highly anticipated sequel to the multi-million selling game Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide has reached BETA.

The Warhammer: Vermintide 2 BETA is rolling out for PC this weekend. Anyone who signed up for the BETA will receive a key in the mail shortly if they haven’t already.

"The demand for keys has been much higher than we ever imagined, and as such we are getting a lot of emails from gamers that haven’t gotten keys. However, anyone that has Pre-Ordered the game will also be able to play the BETA.” says Martin Wahlund, CEO Fatshark.

The Padre Early Access

Early Access to The Padre is now underway on Steam, offering first crack at this Lovecraft-inspired horror game. Steam may cause some confusion about this, as they note some sort of mishap is preventing the game from properly displaying its Early Access status. Here's an outline of what to expect:

As a point-and-click title, there’s no doubt that combat will be a part of The Padre’s venture into redeeming his now lost soul. In the game, players will have to go into combat against unforeseen demonic forces. As the game is a point and click, players will attack enemies by clicking on them and taking aim.

While using firearms such as the pistol or the rifle, players will find themselves being required to keep the crosshairs on their target, which will increase the probability of hitting their target, but also the amount of damage that the creature will take from the player’s attacks.

Key Highlights:

  • Point and click focused gameplay
  • 3D voxel art graphics, allowing the game to offer a unique presentation
  • Challenging combat and puzzle mechanics
  • Hours of gameplay
  • A Lovecraftian puzzle-driven horror experience
  • Multiple endings will be available
  • Video Game Culture Easter Eggs including a Dark Souls board game piece, and references to pop-culture icons such as Half-Life with a crow-bar named “Gordon” and a quote regarding the never-to-release third entry.

Gone Gold - Ni no Kuni II: REVENANT KINGDOM

BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment announces Ni no Kuni II: REVENANT KINGDOM is gold, and is expected for release for Windows and PlayStation 4 on March 23rd. Word is: "Developed by world-renowned video game studio LEVEL-5 Inc., with participation from former Studio Ghibli animator Yoshiyuki Momose and music composed by Joe Hisaishi, Ni no Kuni II: REVENANT KINGDOM is ready to enchant gamers across the world in an epic role-playing game." A look at the RPG sequel can be had in the latest behind-the-scenes trailer, which focuses on building. Here are more details:

Ni no Kuni II: REVENENT KINGDOM provides two additional game modes for players to engage in as they progress through the game’s main story. As Evan reclaims his crown in the newly formed kingdom of Evermore, he must manage all aspects of daily life within its borders. Players will erect shops, farms, barracks, and a host of other facilities to increase the economy of Evermore and provide new equipment for Evan and his allies as they venture further into the world. Hire residents to staff these shops and research new items and abilities to increase Evermore’s influence across the land. Evan will also lead an army into skirmish battles. These large-scale battles against other armies will test the resolve of Evan’s military might. Recruit new generals with special abilities to take down the opposing forces and claim victory!

Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

It's not a big shock that the Gunnar-man is best friends with Jedi the Jindo. Besides Gunnar's naturally friendly nature, his buddy Jedi has always reminded me a bit of Gunnar's previous bestie, the late-great Hudson the wonder dog. One of those familiar traits is Jedi's aggression, which he focuses on unfamiliar dogs and other critters. So I had to laugh yesterday when I went to collect Jedi to walk with us and I could tell before we even entered the yard what had happened. His doggie daddy asked if I could do him a favor, and I asked if it had to do with Jedi getting skunked, something I was all-to-familiar with from Hudson. He laughed because the favor was to smell Jedi to see if he indeed had suffered a skunk incident, which I readily confirmed for him. This smell is quite nauseous, but Jedi didn't get a full blast, so it could have been worse. I pointed the way to the good stuff to clear up the problem, so hopefully he'll be mostly not stinky when we go to see him today.

Stinky Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Gangster Vegas Grand City.
Stories: The script for Star Wars: Episode IX is finished, J.J. Abrams says.
Joss Whedon Sheepishly Exits Batgirl: “Is There a Sexier Word for ‘Failed?’”
Media: Interstellar - TARS and CASE (Bonus Feature). Older. Thanks RedEye9.
Marvel's Jessica Jones - Season 2 Trailer: Her Way.
Oakwood Road Rage. Can't unsee. Probably NSFW. Definitely NSF lunch.
The Funnies: Savage Chickens.
Sunny Street.

Established 1995. Over a billion visitors since 1997.

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 George Washington's Birthday

Trump Calls Out Video Games

President Trump has joined those scapegoating video games and other media as causes for gun violence in the wake of the U.S.'s latest horrific school shooting. Variety quotes the President's comments, which suggest he feels the rating system for movies does not adequately account for violence and that he may not be aware there is already a rating system for video games.

“I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts,” he said at a meeting on school safety. “And then you go the further step, and that’s the movies.”

“You see these movies, they’re so violent and yet, a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn’t involved,” he went on. “Killing is involved, and maybe they have to put a rating system for that.”

New AMD Drivers

AMD Support now offers new Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.2.3 drivers for AMD graphics cards running under Windows (thanks Bill). These offer support for some new releases as well as some bug fixes. Here's word:

Support For

  • Sea of Thieves™
    • Up to 29% faster performance using Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.2.3 on the Radeon™ RX Vega 64 (8GB) graphics card than with Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.2.2 at 3840x2160. RS-215
    • Up to 39% faster performance using Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.2.3 on the Radeon™ RX 580 (8GB) graphics card than with Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.2.2 at 1920x1080. RS-216
  • Brass Tactics™
  • Final Fantasy® XII The Zodiac Age
    • Up to 13% faster performance using Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.2.3 on the Radeon™ RX Vega 56 (8GB) graphics card than with Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.2.2 at 2560x1440. RS-212
    • Up to 20% faster performance using Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.2.3 on the Radeon™ RX 580 (8GB) graphics card than with Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.2.2 at 2560x1440p. RS-213

Fixed Issues

  • Radeon FreeSync may intermittently incorrectly engage during Chrome video playback resulting in playback flicker.
  • Radeon FreeSync may rapidly change between min and max range when enabled causing stutter in fullscreen games on multi display system configurations.
  • Flickering may be observed on the performance metrics overlay when Enhanced Sync is enabled on some Radeon FreeSync connected displays.
  • Radeon Overlay may exhibit minor flickering when enabled while playing games using the Vulkan™ API.
  • Fortnite™ may experience lighting or fog corruption on some graphics quality presets.
  • Radeon ReLive instant replay clips may intermittently contain small amounts of audio distortion.
  • Middle-earth™: Shadow of War™ may experience an application crash when launched as a Universal Windows® Application.
  • For Honor™ may experience an intermittent application crash on launch.

Call of Duty: WWII Free MP Weekend

Steam News announces a free multiplayer weekend is now underway for Call of Duty: WWII on Steam, offering the chance at a tour of duty that will last until Sunday. Activision is also running a sale on the World War II shooter that will last until the end of the month. Here's the battle plan:

Play Call of Duty®: WWII Multiplayer for free this weekend until Sunday at 1pm Pacific. Get the full game 35% off or the Digital Deluxe for 25% off!*

Call of Duty® returns to its roots with Call of Duty®: WWII - a breathtaking experience that redefines World War II for a new gaming generation. Land in Normandy on D-Day and battle across Europe through iconic locations in history's most monumental war. Experience classic Call of Duty combat, the bonds of camaraderie, and the unforgiving nature of war against a global power throwing the world into tyranny.

*Discount offers end February 28th at 10AM Pacific Time

Total War: ARENA Open Beta

Open beta testing is now underway for Total War: ARENA, offering a free chance to check out Creative Assembly's new team-based strategy game based on their long-running series. This post has all you need to know about the game, including links to various guides on how to be a better player. Here's a trailer setting the stage for the conflict, and here are details on how this works, including word that progress in the beta will carry over into the full game:

Wargaming Alliance, SEGA and Creative Assembly are excited to announce that Total War: ARENA marches into Open Beta today. The legendary series’ first foray into online-only competitive multiplayer warfare pits commanders against each other in strategic 10-vs-10 battles.

The Open Beta introduces the faction of Carthage to fight alongside existing factions of Greeks, Romans, and Barbarians. Players can don the mantle of ‘Father of Strategy’ Hannibal Barca together with his brother Hasdrubal, and take command of brand-new units, including mighty war elephants.

Players recruit armies from a wide and diverse roster and enter the battlefield. They must issue their orders and change tactics on the fly in intense, heated encounters where teamwork and quick reactions can turn the tide of battle and secure victory.

“We are proud and excited to share the results of our work with players all around the globe,” said Evgeniy Shukin, Total War: ARENA Publishing Director at Wargaming Alliance. “Together with beta testers, we’ve crafted a game that easily lets newcomers jump in and start battling, while fulfilling the promise to seasoned veteran strategy players who have been at war for years.”

“A passion for history and multiplayer gaming, combined with years of fine-tuning and hard work from both our developers and our valued players, has gone into bringing this Open Beta to the public,” said Gabor Beressy, Total War: ARENA Game Director at Creative Assembly. “We can’t wait for new players to try out this unique Total War multiplayer experience, while we work on more factions and features to add to the Total War: ARENA experience.”

All progress and battlefield experience earned by players in Open Beta will be carried over when the game officially launches.

Continue here to read the full story.

Fable Fortune Launches

Publisher Mediatonic and developer Flaming Fowl Studios announce the release of Fable Fortune on Steam as promised, following an early access run for this CCG set in the world of Albion from the Fable RPG series. This post has details on the launch of the free-to-play strategy game:

Today is a big day, as Fable Fortune globally launches as a free-to-play game! It’s been quite journey over the last 7 months, we’ve come a long way, and working closely with you, the community, we feel like the game has improved immeasurably.

This is quite the update as well, we’re bringing you a sparkly new deck helper for anyone struggling with ideas for decks, or just needs a push in the right direction; Achievements; co-op voice chat for Xbox players; new cards; and a whole lot of events and special rewards to celebrate the game launching. Fairfax Castle will be making an appearance as a brand new location in the new Heroic Tales adventure, and will be coming to a PVP season soon.

In terms of balance changes, we’re looking to reduce the tempo swing a lot of low cost cards can achieve, by increasing their cost and therefore reducing how much more you can do on that same turn. In particular Sand and Temple are guilty here, having access to some very cheap, very efficient removal spells. A couple of Mythics are getting some love with this update as well and we look forward to seeing what players do with their newfound power.

For new players who may be unaware, whenever we make balance changes to non-Basic cards, you may salvage those cards for 100% of their crafting cost for 2 weeks after the changes.

[IMPORTANT NOTE:] The Starter Bundle may take some time to start behaving for users on all platforms. It should be priced at £9.99/$12.99/€11,49 but may not show up as available for purchase.
We expect this to be resolved by February 23rd at latest, sorry for the inconvenience!

Mantis Burn Racing Free Weekend

A free weekend is also now underway on Steam for Mantis Burn Racing (thanks Ant), the Windows motorsports game that sounds like it's named after a yoga studio or an incense brand. This post invites you to join their Discord channel and participate in giveaways all weekend, and of course the game is also on sale all weekend. Here's word:

The race is on in Mantis Burn Racing, where fast-paced bumper-to-bumper racing combines with intuitive, tactile gameplay and stunning visuals in one of the best-looking and most immersive top-down racers around. Drive incredible built-for-racing vehicles across highly detailed, visually stunning tracks, in high-risk, high-speed races where winning is everything. Prove your skills in an extensive career mode and take on friends with 4-player local split-screen racing and online modes for up to 8 players in ‘one-more-go’ style competitive racing. With a RPG-style upgrade system providing players with deep tactical choices and excellent replay-ability, this is racing at its rawest but most exciting!

Star Control Countersuit

Paul Reiche and Fred Ford are countersuing Stardock over the rights to the Star Control series they originated, Gamasutra reports is the latest twist in the recent legal battle over the series. Stardock purchased part of the IP almost five years ago, but apparently it's not as cut and dried as all that. The counterclaim cites copyright infringement and unfair competition, and word is: "In addition to the two previous accusations mentioned, Reiche and Ford’s counterclaim asks the court to declare them the owners of the copyrights for the first two Star Control games and to cancel the trademark owned by Stardock that they say was improperly renewed." Here's more:

Among other things, Reiche and Ford’s counterclaim is seeking injunctions against Stardock for using their copyrights improperly, exemplary and punitive damages, and a declaratory judgment that the duo owns Star Control, Star Control II, their independently released Ur-Quan Masters title, and the Star Control characters used in Star Control 3.

EA Showing New Battlefield in June

Electronic Arts announces their EA Play 2018 event will take place from June 9-11 in the Hollywood Palladium. Word is they will be handing out free tickets come spring, and among the games attendees will get to play is the next installment in the Battlefield series of military shooters. Here's the plan:

At EA PLAY 2018, players looking for intense action will have a chance to play the next Battlefield™ experience, all the upcoming EA SPORTS™ games, and get an inside look at the stunning new action game, Anthem™. For a more lighthearted fare, gamers will get to play The Sims™ 4, as well as EA’s biggest mobile hits. For those able to make it to Hollywood, there’s a lot in store: hundreds of game stations, awesome game demos, lots of experiences for attendees and families, including music, art, food, souvenirs and entertainment for everyone.

Tickets will be available this Spring. EA will be introducing a new ticketing system to give players better hands-on access to their favorite games. Stay tuned over the coming weeks and months to learn more about EA PLAY 2018 including ticket availability, entertainment, program schedule and more.

Whether they are attending in person, watching the livestream via EA.com or enjoying content from their favorite creators, EA PLAY is the event that brings all gamers together, all over the world.

Evening Patches

On Sale

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Hunt Showdown Early Access

Early Access to Hunt Showdown is now available on Steam, offering first crack at Crytek's new game that launches the "competitive first-person PvP bounty hunting game with heavy PvE elements" genre. "Early access is a big milestone for the team, and we are all excited to finally be releasing Hunt: Showdown out into the wild," said Creative Director Magnus Larbrant. "With Hunt, we wanted to make the game that we, as gamers, have always wanted to play ourselves: tense, dark, addictive, terrifying—a real adrenaline-pumping experience. We have the foundations laid out, and now with the support and input of the community during early access, we can polish that experience together." The early access launch trailer shows the concept in action, and there are bountiful details in the description:

Hunt: Showdown is a competitive first-person bounty hunting game with heavy PvE elements from the makers of Crysis. Set in the darkest corners of the world, it packs the thrill of survival games into a match-based format. Hunt’s competitive, match-based gameplay mixes PvP and PvE elements to create a uniquely tense experience. At the beginning of each match, up to five teams of two set out to track monstrous targets. Once they’ve found and defeated one of these they will receive a bounty—and instantly become a target for every other hunter left on the map. The higher the risk, the higher the reward–but a single mistake could cost everything.

Continue here to read the full story.

Stellaris: Apocalypse Now!

Paradox Interactive announces the release of Stellaris: Apocalypse, a new expansion for the Windows, Linux, and macOS 4X space strategy game. The launch trailer sets the stage for the apocalypse, which involves "a terrifying armada of features centered around warfare and destruction." The add-on comes alongside an update for the base game, as well. Here's word:

Stellaris: Apocalypse redefines stellar warfare for all players with a host of new offensive and defensive options, alongside a few non-violent new features for those poor, unsuspecting empires not currently at war. Alongside a host of free improvements to Stellaris, the new Apocalypse DLC includes:

  • That’s No Moon, neither is That One, That One Might be a Moon, Wait, No: Keep the local systems in line with fear of the new “Colossus” planet-killer weapon – a technological terror that eliminates entire worlds from the universe
  • All Your Base Are Belong to You: New enormous “Titan” capital ships can lead your fleets to conquest, offering tremendous bonuses to the vessels under their command. Meanwhile, fortify key systems with massive orbital installations and secure your homeworld as an impenetrable bastion among the stars.
  • Pirates of the Constellation: Watch out for Marauders – space nomads who raid settled empires and carve out their lives on the fringe of civilization. Hire them as mercenaries in your own conflicts, but take care that they don’t unify and trigger a new crisis!
  • Some Non-Violent Features: New Ascension Perks and Civics are added in the expansion, along with new Unity Ambitions that provide new ways to spend Unity and customize your development

Continue here to read the full story.

METAL GEAR SURVIVE Released

METAL GEAR SURVIVE is now available in its all-caps glory for Windows on Steam, offering an exploration and survival experience based on the Metal Gear Solid franchise. This launch trailer shows off the single-player campaign and online co-op. Here's word on the game:

METAL GEAR SURVIVE builds upon METAL GEAR SOLID V’S enduring stealth action gameplay while introducing the new elements of exploration and survival to create a bold new experience.

METAL GEAR SURVIVE is a spin off from the main METAL GEAR SOLID V story that takes place in a strange alternative universe.

Create your own character and learn to survive. Scavenge resources, craft weapons, build a base camp and explore the unknown while developing the survival skills necessary in this hostile environment.
In CO-OP mode, assemble a team of four players to infiltrate and defend areas from hordes of creatures. Place fortifications and defensive weapons strategically to give you an advantage against ever intensifying enemies. Team work and resourcefulness are key in these fast paced co-op missions.

Continue here to read the full story.

Warcraft III PTR Resumes

Blizzard announces they have re-launced a Public Test Realm for Warcraft III, which now offers a new version 1.29 update for players of the RTS sequel to test. Rumors emerged last year that a remake of Warcraft III may be in the works, and it's hard to tell if news that the 15+ year-old game is getting updated with support for widescreen monitors and 24-player multiplayer makes the rumors more or less plausible. Here are some details:

Warcraft III's PTR is back and ready for your scrutiny. Join us in testing widescreen support, hero balance changes, and updates to Map Pools for 1's, 2's, 3's, 4's and Free-for-All. We've also added some experimental modes like 24 player support for custom games.

We hope you enjoy. We will be watching here for general feedback, the Editor thread for mapmaker feedback, and the Balance & Map Pool thread for that topic (details below).

Windows
https://battle.net/download/getInstallerForGame?os=win&locale=enUS&version=PTR&gameProgram=WARCRAFT_3

Mac
https://battle.net/download/getInstallerForGame?os=mac&locale=enUS&version=PTR&gameProgram=WARCRAFT_3

Specific Changes & Improvements
Widescreen Support

  • Added bookends to the in-game interface
  • Added black pillars in menus to prevent stretching

24 Player Support

  • Game lobbies revised to support 24 players
  • Team colors revised and expanded
  • Color selection is an ongoing effort, feel free to leave specific suggestions with color codes

Balance & Map Pools

World Editor Upgrades

Fornite Season 3 Begins

Epic tweets that the Fortnite servers are now back online, and season three is officially underway in their survival shooter. This originally rolled out a few hours ago, but the servers were taken offline for fixes after some issues arose. This post has all the details on the Season 3 Battle Pass. Word is: "When you buy the Season 3 Battle Pass, you’ll instantly unlock a batch of great in-game rewards including the new Mission Specialist Outfit! As you play during the season, you unlock a series of reward tiers. The more you play, the more you unlock."

FINAL FANTASY XV Demo Next Week

SQUARE ENIX announces the March 6th release of the Windows edition of FINAL FANTASY XV will be preceded by a playable demo, which is expected on Monday. The FINAL FANTASY Website has all the details on the Windows version, but there are no specifics on what to expect from the demo for the RPG sequel. They do discuss preorder bonuses that are split across various vendors to thwart completionists, including a Half-Life pack from Steam:

Exclusive in-game items and bonuses have also been revealed for fans who pre-purchase or purchase FINAL FANTASY XV WINDOWS EDITION:

STEAM

  • From now until May 1, players who purchase or pre-purchase the game from STEAM will receive the Half-Life® Pack, which features:
    • In-game costume for Noctis based on Gordon Freeman, star of the legendary Half-Life first-person video game series including the HEV Suit, Scientist Glasses and Crowbar
  • The Half-Life Pack will also available for FINAL FANTASY XV MULTIPLAYER EXPANSION: COMRADES
  • Players who pre-order the game from STEAM will receive the bonus “FFXV Fashion Collection” containing a selection of T-shirts for Noctis to wear, including:
    • The strength-enhancing EPISODE GLADIOLUS Tee
    • The HP recovery rate-increasing EPISODE PROMPTO Tee
    • The critical hit rate-increasing EPISODE IGNIS Tee
    • The maximum HP-increasing COMRADES Tee

Origin*

  • Players who pre-order the game from Origin will receive the bonus “FFXV Decal Selection,” containing an array of colorful decals for the Regalia car celebrating Gladiolus, Prompto and Ignis, along with the men and women of the Kingsglaive.

*Details regarding the early purchase bonuses for Origin will be announced at a later time.

Microsoft Store

  • The save data from the Windows 10 version of FINAL FANTASY XV WINDOWS EDITION is compatible with the Xbox One version of FINAL FANTASY XV. In addition, a post-launch update for FINAL FANTASY XV WINDOWS EDITION will enable Windows 10 and Xbox One cross play for FINAL FANTASY XV MULTIPLAYER EXPANSION: COMRADES.
  • Players who pre-order the game from the Microsoft Store will receive the bonus “FFXV Powerup Pack,” containing Dodanuki, a sleek sword created by a legendary bladesmith that reduces enemy defense with each slash. The pack also includes 10 phoenix downs and 10 elixirs.

Additional details regarding the game’s pre-order bonuses are available here: http://sqex.to/FF15PC

Destiny 2 Roadmap Rerouted

Bungie announces more changes to their Destiny 2 Development Roadmap, resetting expectations when some features are destined to roll out for their shooter sequel. Here's the latest:

With today’s update we’ve moved a few items out to later releases – this is because we are trying to ensure each feature we add hits a sufficiently high quality bar. So while we really wanted to get Nightfall Strike Unique Weapons into your hands next week to coincide with Nightfall Scoring, it’s more important that each of those rewards live up to the difficulty it will take to earn them. They have to be super cool, so we’re giving the artists extra time to make sure they are... super cool. Mod System Improvements are also still planned, but will not be available when 1.2.0 is released. We’ll give more details on when to expect these changes at a future date.

We also have a big addition we’re eager share – Rumble will be joining 6v6 Iron Banner and Mayhem in our new rotating weekly Crucible playlist in 1.1.4. We want to make sure players have a more diverse set of game modes available in both Crucible and Private Matches. Doubles is also planned to return, but we do not have an exact release date just yet. Keep an eye out for next week’s TWAB where we’ll go into more depth with our future Crucible plans.

There’s lots more we’re eager to talk about in the coming weeks. We promise to be as transparent as possible and keep you updated as we go. We hope you’re along for the ride.

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Out of the Blue

This week looked weird in the weather forecast, and it's not seeming any less so as it plays out. We got dumped with about six inches of snow on Saturday night, but that was immediately followed by a warming trend, and it peaked at 77°F yesterday, and it was around that temperature as recently as midnight. That already seems like a distant dream, though, as it's 43°F right now, and the forecast calls for a sub-freezing low of 31°F. Getting to go out in a t-shirt yesterday was delightful, but the wintery rebound has me a little bummed out. I'm not sure if that means I'd have preferred it just staying cold, but it really does have me longing for spring.

Springy Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Air Wings - Missile Attack.
Story: Delta passengers endure nearly 12-hour delay before flight is canceled: report
Science: Anti-depressants: Major study finds they work.
NASA sees Mars Phoenix lander's dusty grave 10 years later. Thanks RedEye9.
Amateur astronomer captures rare first light from massive exploding star. Thanks RedEye9.
Media: Tide Pod Security Robot.
The Solo Trailer Re-Cut to the Beastie Boys Has No Right to Be This Great. Thanks Neutronbeam.
Wolves running on the highway. Cruise control. Thanks Boing Boing.



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