Archived News:

Friday, Mar 11, 2016

Rise of the Tomb Raider DirectX 12 Patch

This Steam Community Group Announcement has details on a new patch for Rise of the Tomb Raider that adds DirectX 12 support to the Windows edition of the adventure game (a patch for those who got the game through the Windows 10 store will follow). Square Enix says they "expect this patch to be an improvement for everyone," but they offer the ability to revert to the previous version for anyone with problems. They point to this blog post for more details, as PC developer Nixxes Software explains some of the advantages DirectX 12 brings. Here's a bit:
The above advantage we feel is the most important one for Rise of the Tomb Raider, but there are many more advantages that make us excited about DirectX 12. Another big feature, which we are also using on Xbox One, is asynchronous compute. This allows us to re-use GPU power that would otherwise go to waste, and do multiple tasks in parallel. And there is a never before seen level of control over NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX configurations, which means that as a developer we can take full control over those systems and ensure users get a great experience with them.

Being one of the first game titles out there using DirectX 12 there are still many more optimizations to make and DirectX 11 is available for the most predictable and proven experience. However, as seen above there are large gains to be found already, and we encourage you to check out DirectX 12 for yourself in our latest patch!

Hearthstone Whispers of the Old Gods Expansion Announced

Blizzard announces Whispers of the Old Gods, an upcoming expansion for Hearthstone, adding 134 new cards to the game. The Hearthstone website offers a cinematic trailer, and here's word from the announcement:
Whispers of the Old Gods takes everything familiar in Hearthstone and turns it . . . inside out. Under the sway of the four Old Gods of Azeroth, familiar friends have been corrupted (and have sprouted a few extra eyeballs in the process), new monstrosities have appeared, and unrest spreads throughout the tavern with every turn. As the Old Gods and their crazed followers join you in battle, there’s no telling how much havoc you can wreak with their unique abilities and game-changing powers. By the same token, you’ll want to pay great attention to each play you make—for it could well be your last in the newest Hearthstone expansion.

Coming to PC; Windows, iOS, and Android™ tablets; and mobile phones, Whispers of The Old Gods card packs will be winnable in Hearthstone’s Arena mode, and purchasable with in-game gold or real money at the same prices as Hearthstone’s other card packs. Starting March 14, and up until the expansion is released, those brave enough to call forth this ancient and incredible power in battle can pre-purchase Whispers of the Old Gods card packs in a special 50-pack bundle, on any platform, for a one-time price of $49.99 (one purchase per account). Whoever does so and lives to tell about it will receive a unique themed card back.

To embrace the darkness, and read up on all things Old Gods, visit www.oldgods.com.
Continue here to read the full story.

Serious Sam Engine Released

The Croteam website has word that Croteam has released the source code to the Serious Engine version 1.10, which powered the original Serious Sam games (thanks Seriously!). All the files are posted on GitHub, and here's the explanation of the release:
Hey guys, today we have a surprise for you. We’re releasing the source code for Serious Engine v1.10! It’s the very same engine that we used for Serious Sam Classic: The First Encounter and The Second Encounter.

This month we’ll be celebrating Serious Sam’s 15th anniversary and we’re all feeling very nostalgic. Croteam’s Vyacheslav Nikitenko, who worked on the source code and prepared Serious Engine v.1.10 for this release, had this to say:

“Historically, this version of Serious Engine is very important for Croteam and for me personally. I created several mods for Serious Sam back in the day, before even starting the work on the source code, and it was a great tool for learning.

And it’s even better today! Obviously, Serious Engine v1.10 won’t produce top-notch graphics, but the source code is very well commented, easy to modify, and there are lots of user generated mods out there. This version has everything you need to build your own game – or just experiment.

If you’re looking to get started, just download the files from GitHub and head over to SeriousZone, it has a great community and lots of tutorials.”

Rocket League & Dying Light Crossover

Techland announces the availability of a Rocket League-themed paint job in Dying Light, saying players can redeem this by entering the code "LightMyRocket" on the Weapon Dockets page. They offer this trailer to show how this looks, and add, "similarly in Rocket League, players will be able to kit out their rides with Dying Light inspired stuff," though they don't say how this will work. "We’re huge fans of Rocket League," explains Techland's Tymon Smektala. "And because both games offer great driving fun, we thought why not just partner up and give fans of both games some unique stuff."

Alekhine's Gun Released

Maximum Games announces the release of Alekhine's Gun, calling this a spiritual successor to Death to Spies, the Smershy shooter. There are details on the game and where to pick it up on the Alekhine's Gun website. Here's the pitch:
Alekhine's Gun, the spiritual successor to 'Death to Spies', will launch today, Friday 11 March 2016, on Steam and all other leading retailers of digitally downloaded PC games.

Alekhine’s Gun puts players in the shoes of WWII ex-KGB assassin, Agent Alekhine, who is tasked with eliminating conspirators during the 1960s Cold War era. Teamed up with the CIA, players will traverse eleven open levels set in both military and civilian locations in the U.S., Europe, and Cuba. With a range of weapons and disguises, non-linear levels and multiple routes to success, Alekhine’s Gun gives players the freedom to explore and optimise their strategy within an intriguing historical context.

“Kiss Ltd is extremely excited to be launching Alekine's Gun today” commented Darryl Still, CEO of Kiss Ltd. "Not only will the game appeal to Death of Spies fans, but also the wider gaming community"

Ares Omega Released

Ares Omega is now available on Steam, offering a top-down rogue-lite shooter for Windows. The game carries a 10% launch discount for the next week, and here's more on what it offers: "You play as a soldier fighting against a robot rebellion on Mars. Explore procedurally generated levels, upgrade 45 skills across 3 skill trees, and find over 50 different weapons to help you destroy the robot leaders." Here's the launch trailer. Continue here to read the full story.

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam Trailer

Tripwire Interactive has released the first gameplay trailer from Rising Storm 2: Vietnam, saying the footage in this "boots on the ground" video is from an alpha version of the upcoming shooter sequel. Here's word on the clip, which surprisingly does not have any music from the Doors or CCR: "Today’s brand new trailer, Boots on the Ground, reveals the very first in-game footage for Rising Storm 2: Vietnam. The realistic gameplay footage will pull players directly into intense authentic gunplay and visceral first-person action in this brutal recreation of the Vietnam War. Through the lush, but dangerous jungles, to firefights in the streets, across the rolling hills, entrenched deep in the rice fields and even into US Firebases, the environments are as treacherous as they are massive. Choosing sides as either the US forces or the Vietnamese resistance forces, players will experience intense tactical action with up to 64 players in battles, with each force having their own unique abilities and tactical advantages such as Napalm Strikes, Artillery Barrages, surface-to-air missile strikes, traps, ambushes and more." Continue here to read the full story.

Carbine Layoffs

WildStar Forums have an announcement from Carbine announcing layoffs at the developer, attributing these to the transition of Wildstar to a live game and the cancellation of plans to bring the sci-fi MMORPG to China. They don't specify how many jobs were lost, but Polygon says they've received unconfirmed reports that as much as 40 percent of their workforce was cut, and there are warning that more layoffs will follow. Here's the official statement:
Earlier this morning, Carbine Studios completed a reorganization of its operating structure. Moving forward, the studio will focus on operating and updating WildStar as a live game in the US and Europe. As part of this change, the studio has canceled its plans to bring WildStar to China.

Unfortunately, as a result of these changes, we’ve had to reduce staff. These cuts are directly tied to WildStar’s evolution from a product in development to a live title, to the cancellation of work to bring WildStar to China, and to the overall performance of WildStar since launch in 2014.

These kinds of decisions are exceptionally difficult. The talented and passionate professionals who are impacted by these cuts have been valuable team members and respected colleagues. We wish everyone well for the future and will be providing severance and employment search assistance.

As for WildStar, we remain committed to the game. Over the next few weeks and months we will deliver a significant update to the game, kick off a variety of community events, and continue our work on new content that we will talk more about in the near future.

On Sale

  • HITMAN, Rocket League Titles, Nordic Games sale and more on Green Man Gaming.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Weekend Promo: Strategy Corner on GOG.com.

EverQuest Next Cancelled

A post on the Daybreak Games website from company president Russell Shanks announces that they are cancelling plans for EverQuest Next, a planned reboot of the classic MMORPG (thanks Tom). Here's word:
I’m writing today to let you know that, after much review and consideration, Daybreak is discontinuing development of EverQuest Next.

For the past 20 years EverQuest has been a labor of love. What started as a deep passion of ours, as game creators, grew into a much larger passion shared by you, millions of players and Daybreakers alike. Watching EverQuest’s ability to entertain and bring people together has inspired and humbled us. It’s shaped our culture and has emboldened us to take aggressive risks with our game ideas and products. When we decided to create the next chapter in the EverQuest journey, we didn’t aim low. We set out to make something revolutionary.

For those familiar with the internals of game development, you know that cancellations are a reality we must face from time to time. Inherent to the creative process are dreaming big, pushing hard and being brutally honest with where you land. In the case of EverQuest Next, we accomplished incredible feats that astonished industry insiders. Unfortunately, as we put together the pieces, we found that it wasn’t fun. We know you have high standards when it comes to Norrath and we do too. In final review, we had to face the fact that EverQuest Next would not meet the expectations we – and all of you – have for the worlds of Norrath.

The future of the EverQuest franchise as a whole is important to us here at Daybreak. EverQuest in all its forms is near and dear to our hearts. EverQuest and EverQuest II are going strong. Rest assured that our passion to grow the world of EverQuest remains undiminished.

HITMAN Released

The HITMAN website announces the release of episode one of the new HITMAN game, confirming our suspicions that they omitted a "pm" from their launch schedule. They discuss what's available now, and outline plans to follow this with additional content next week:
Right now, you can download and play the first episode of HITMAN directly from your PlayStation 4, Xbox One or PC. This is your first step into the world of assassination and it’s a very proud moment for everyone that has been involved in the game. In many ways, this is just the beginning of a fantastic year for HITMAN.

We’re giving you the weekend to experience the Prologue, start exploring Paris and try your hand at the first Escalation Contract before we unleash more of our live content next week. Escalation Contracts have a strong focus on having fun with the game mechanics. You’ll need to complete a hit that will escalate in difficulty over five stages - pretty much anything goes in this mode. It’s more about being playful than realistic. Also next week, we’ll release the first ever Elusive Target for HITMAN. This target will only be around for a limited time – and you only have one chance to take them down. You won’t want to miss them!

Escalation Contracts and Elusive Targets are part of the ‘live component’ of HITMAN that we will keep fresh every week in between the release of each episode.

WWE 2K16 Released for Windows

2K announces the release of the Windows edition of WWE 2K16, saying this version of the professional wrestling simulation include all previously released DLC, and a playable Arnold Schwarzenegger "as The Terminator," to round out the roster. Here's word:
2K today announced that WWE® 2K16, the latest addition to the flagship WWE video game franchise, is available now on Windows PC via Steam. Offered for $49.99, WWE 2K16 for Windows PC delivers all of the action offered in WWE 2K16 for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, including the largest roster in franchise history of more than 120 playable characters; two playable versions of 2015 WWE Hall of Fame inductee and global action film icon, Arnold Schwarzenegger; and the story-driven 2K Showcase featuring WWE Hall of Famer and WWE 2K16 cover Superstar, Stone Cold Steve Austin®.

In addition, WWE 2K16 provides consumers with all of the game’s previously released downloadable content for Windows PC, including new playable characters, moves and story-driven content, at no additional cost.

Book of Demons Announced

Independent developer Thing Trunk announces Book of Demons, a fantasy-themed action/RPG coming to Windows in the third quarter of this year. They describe this as a cross between Paper Mario and Diablo, and promise further details and a gameplay trailer soon. In the meantime, you can learn more about their plan on this website where they provide this announcement trailer, say to expect a beta in Q2, and link to where you can preorder. Here's word:
What makes Book of Demons stand out from the rest of fantasy hack & slash games are its many twists in the basic gameplay mechanics, paper cut-out graphics, unprecedented accessibility, and a dark theme intertwined with a fair dose of humor any fan of classic games should enjoy. The character system is built around a card system that supersedes and unifies items, skills, and spells. Current hack & slash games employ countless statistics that change the mechanics by a percentile in a continuous fashion. Book of Demons features multiple discrete player and monster mechanics that can be combined in a virtually infinite number of interesting ways to create near endless replayability.

Book of Demons is the first installment in the Return 2 Games series which was announced by Thing Trunk last year. Each game in the R2G series takes place in Paperverse where all characters and objects are made of folded paper. True to the origins of the hack & slash genre, Book of Demons tells the universal story of good vs evil, of a hero's quest to save the world from the ultimate devilry.

“We were always fascinated by the intensity of the experiences in the games from the 90's, especially Diablo 1, which in our opinion is one of the best hack & slash games of all time” said Maciej Biedrzycki, Thing Trunk co-founder. “Book of Demons is a tribute to this sentiment.”

Key features of Book of Demons:

  • Paper cut-out graphics
  • Upgradable card system that unifies items, spells, and skills
  • Unique movement and fighting system for more strategic gameplay
  • Flexiscope™ system that adjusts sessions size to players' liking
  • Endless end-game mode with 100+ challenges
  • First truly accessible hack & slash
  • Randomized dungeons
  • Single-player campaign with 3 character classes
  • 60+ different monster types
  • Lots of humor

Continue here to read the full story.

Limit Theory Engine Tune-up

A post on the Limit Theory Forums has a status report on this crowdfunded procedural space simulation, which has had its share of ups and downs along the way. An update last year reassured backers and followers of the project that development continued, and now developer Josh Parnell outlines changes he has implemented under the hood. There are a lot of engine details, but here's his conclusion: "Having written a good bit it already, I can tell you guys that, all this technical stuff aside, the single best part of this new approach is that building LT actually feels like building LT, not like thinking about the best way to implement each tiny piece of it. In that respect, a HUGE burden has been lifted from both myself as well as future modders!" Thanks JDreyer.

Diablo II Patch Adds OS X Support

No, we didn't forget an "I" in that headline, as Battle.net has word on a new patch that's now available for Diablo II, updating the 15+ year-old action/RPG to version 1.14a (thanks Diabloii.Net). This adds native OS X support to the game and improves defenses against cheating, and they express a commitment to further advances in this area and continued support of the venerable title. Here's word:
It’s been a long time coming, but today we’re releasing 1.14a for Diablo II.

This update focuses on system glitches introduced by modern operating systems. In related news, you can finally retire those old Mac PowerPCs. Included with the update is a shiny new installer for OSX.

We’ve also begun working to improve our cheat-detection and hack-prevention capabilities. There’s still work to be done, but we’re making improvements every day.

There is still a large Diablo II community around the world, and we thank you for continuing to play and slay with us. This journey starts by making Diablo II run on modern platforms, but it does not end there. See you in Sanctuary, adventurers.

Deathsmiles Released

Degica announces the release of Deathsmiles for Windows on Steam, saying for the first week of availability this bullet hell shooter will carry a 10% discount and come with a free copy of the soundtrack. Here's what to expect from this one:
In Deathsmiles, you take the role of one of five Angels to defend the magical land of Gilverado from an invasion by Hell itself! Eradicate this devilish assault!

Game Features:

  • Horizontally scrolling bullet-hell madness across six different game modes including Mega Black Label mode.
  • Spooky good fun! Battle ghosts, demons, man-eating plants, and even giant cattle in this gothic horror-themed adventure.
  • Five playable angels to choose from, each with her own faithful familiar.
  • Supports two-player local cooperative play. Banish the forces of Hell together!
  • Reap what you sow with the challenging and powerful Counter system.
  • Freely choose your path and difficulty with nonlinear progression between a variety of macabre stages.

Fractured Space Adds Custom Matches

This post has details on a new patch that's now live on Steam for Fractured Space, adding custom matches to Edge Case Games' space-based MOBA. There is a new Fractured Fight Club Steam Group to help players find teams and matches. Word is: "The system has been designed for matches with friends, including both friendly encounters and clan training. It allows for everything from one-on-one games to full five-on-five matches."

Morning Crowdfunding Roundup

Morning Previews

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

It's hard to deny spring has sprung around here... it hit the 70s yesterday, and while it won't be quite so warm for the next couple of days, it looks like we've seen the last of winter. This is evidenced by an immediate shift in the climate of my attic office, as it was just a couple of days ago I was still using a small comforter to stay warm, while last night I opened a window due to how hot it was. At this rate the air conditioner will be on within days.

R.I.P.: Bond, Kubrick Designer Ken Adam Has Died. Thanks Ant.

Springy Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Sinbad's Journey.
Clone Space.
Science: The Robots Sent Into Fukushima Have 'Died'. Thanks HARDOCP.
'Living Lens' Made From Stem Cells Could Treat Blindness.
Media: Will need non-Videosift submissions if people want that site avoided.
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