Archived News:

Thursday, Jan 05, 2017

Mass Effect 2 Free on Origin

Origin's On the House program now offers Mass Effect 2 as a free download for anyone with a free Origin account. The sci-fi action/RPG sequel is the latest addition to this program, where word simply is, "Arm yourself and prepare for an unforgettable intergalactic adventure. Add this critically-acclaimed role-playing game to your library for free. It's On the House!" Here's a refresher on the game, which was first released in 2010:
Are you prepared to lose everything to save the galaxy? You'll need to be, Commander Shepherd. It's time to bring together your greatest allies and recruit the galaxy's fighting elite to continue the resistance against the invading Reapers. So steel yourself, because this is an astronomical mission where sacrifices must be made. You'll face tougher choices and new, deadlier enemies. Arm yourself and prepare for an unforgettable intergalactic adventure.

Game Features:
Shift the fight in your favor. Equip yourself with powerful new weapons almost instantly thanks to a new inventory system. Plus, an improved health regeneration system means you'll spend less time hunting for restorative items.

Make every decision matter. Divisive crew members are just the tip of the iceberg, Commander, because you'll also be tasked with issues of intergalactic diplomacy. And time's a wastin' so don't be afraid to use new prompt-based actions that let you interrupt conversations, even if they could alter the fate of your crew...and the galaxy.

Forge new alliances, carefully. You'll fight alongside some of your most trustworthy crew members, but you'll also get the opportunity to recruit new talent. Just choose your new partners with care because the fate of the galaxy rests on your shoulders, Commander.

SMITE Rivals Announced

Hi-Rez Studios announces SMITE Rivals, a SMITE spinoff that adds a collectible card element to the MOBA concept. This free-to-play game is coming to PCs via Steam and mobile devices later this year, and in the meantime they are offering rewards for participating in their social media assault. They offer this reveal trailer with a look at the game and its development, and here's a bit more from the official website on what to expect:
The Battleground of the Gods is more adorable than ever in SMITE Rivals, a new Collectible Card Arena from the makers of SMITE. Build a deck of Gods, Minions, Structures, and Spells, then bring your cards to life by dragging them into a three-lane battlefield! Are you godly enough to defeat your opponent in this real-time multiplayer brawl?
Continue here to read the full story.

SMITE Tactics Closed Beta

Hi-Rez has another announcement, as the SMITE website announces SMITE Tactics is now in closed beta testing. In this case the beta is closed to those unwilling to pay for a founder's pack. Here's word on the turn-based strategy game:
The Tactics team has been hard at work getting the game ready for Closed Beta after several months of Alpha testing. With the Closed Beta, SMITE Tactics will now include a new player experience featuring tutorials, new campaigns against AI to unlock the Egyptian and Norse Pantheons, a brand new Egyptian Map, and of course, more cards! We’ll also be adding 3 new Leaders – Freya, Poseidon, and Isis!

“We wanted to give players multiple Pantheon Leaders to choose from, so that strategizing and Deck-building is a tremendous amount of fun,” said Scott “Gandhi” Lussier, Lead Designer on Tactics. “Each Leader has their own unique Leader Ability which drastically changes how you would traditionally play the respective pantheons. I’m really excited for you all to get your hands on SMITE Tactics and start commanding the gods.”

With the start of Closed Beta, SMITE Tactics is adding the ability to purchase Card Packs and a brand new Founder’s Pack! Besides instant access to the Beta, the Founder’s Pack also includes an Exclusive Founder’s Icon and Card Back, Legendary Leaders Poseidon/Isis/Freya, Legendary Enyo in Tactics, the Enyo skin for Bellona in SMITE, 15 Card Packs, and more! The Founder’s Pack is available now for $20 USD.

New Paragon Hero Reveal

The Paragon website announces details about Serath, a new hero coming to Epic's MOBA on January 10th. Serath is a melee carry, and they provide this video to introduce her and show off her play style. Here's more on the character and her kit:
Serath (Order, Corruption) is a carry with a unique twist: she fights in melee range. Utilizing each ability in her kit, she’s able to close distances quickly, and keep enemies in range to unleash fury upon her opponents.

  • Chastise (RMB/R1) - Serath attacks an enemy dealing damage and applying a slow. This attack also cleaves other nearby enemies.
  • Heaven’s Fury (Q/Square) - Serath hovers in place and hits each target in an area with a ghostly slash. Each slash deals damage one target at a time, with a delay between each attack. Serath is immune to damage and crowd control during this ability.
  • Ascend (E/Circle) - Rise into the air and then rapidly dive back down, traveling and dealing damage to a targeted area.
  • Heresy (R/Triangle) - Serath lets her dark side take over and her abilities now apply a burn effect which creates a weakness aura around affected enemies. Enemies who are burning also take additional damage from Serath’s basic attacks.

As always, all Heroes in Paragon are free, so jump in as Serath on Tuesday. If you can't wait to get your Paragon fix, you don't have to - Paragon is in Free Open Beta, so you can download and play today.

Continue here to read the full story.

Celtic Pantheon Coming to SMITE

Along with an introduction to the upcoming SMITE Season 4, the SMITE website announces the Celtic Pantheon is coming to Hi-Rez Studios' MOBA in an update due later this month. This will include the first Celtic Goddess, The Morrigan, and kick off a brand new Celtic-inspired event called Path of the Phantom Queen. Here's word on the new Goddess:
What better way to kick off the Celtic Pantheon in SMITE than with the introduction of the oldest Celtic god? This deceptive Mage is actually multiple beings that share one personality. She’s been in development for over three months and has one of the most programming-intensive abilities in the game – she can transform into any god in the match. This is a completely unique ability that’s new to SMITE and opens up countless gameplay strategies.

“The Morrigan is a complex and mysterious Goddess in lore, and her personality and abilities in SMITE are focused around the same concepts,” said A.J. “HiRezAjax” Walker, Lead Designer on SMITE. “She should be quite a challenge for even the most seasoned Smite players!”

The Morrigan will be joining the Battleground of the Gods with the 3.25 patch in early January.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan Pulled

Polygon notes that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is no longer available for Windows or consoles, saying the game is no longer available via digital distribution, though physical copies may still be out in the wild. They note the unfavorable reviews the mutated action game garnered, but it's not clear if its poor reception is the reason it was pulled. GameInformer says they've contacted Activision for comment, but have not received a response.

On Sale

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Honda Riding Assist. Thanks HARDOCP.

GeForce Now Streaming Announced

The GeForce website announces GeForce Now, a new streaming game service for Windows and OS X. Word is this will connect to GTX 1080-powered PCs via that cloud that everybody's so excited about. This will cost $7.99USD per month, and they are offering one month free. Here's the plan:
For several years NVIDIA has been building the world's best cloud gaming technology with the ability to stream at a crystal-clear 1080p 60FPS, with low latency. Today, we're announcing GeForce NOW for Mac and PC, a new cloud gaming service that transforms your Mac or PC  into a high-performance gaming PC by connecting them to blazing-fast GeForce GTX 1080 gaming PCs hosted in the cloud.

Using our unparalleled cloud gaming technology, and the performance of the world's fastest consumer GPUs, you'll be able to play the latest PC games at exceptional detail levels, with super smooth framerates, for an unrivaled experience that can otherwise only be obtained through a PC system upgrade.

To use GeForce NOW for Mac and PC, simply load the GeForce NOW app and install your favorite Steam, Origin, Uplay, GOG or games, that you own, onto your virtual GeForce NOW GeForce GTX 1080 PC. Once loaded, enjoy your games with high-quality visual effects, high framerates, and NVIDIA GameWorks effects courtesy of the cloud-based GeForce GTX 1080 GeForce NOW PCs.

Alternatively, install games that use a dedicated launcher, such as World of Tanks and Warframe, and play with and against other gamers, all via the cloud.

GeForce NOW also makes things easy – all patching, game configuring and driver updating is handled automatically by the GeForce NOW infrastructure. Even save games, achievements and other settings are automatically synchronized with digital game platforms, enabling you to instantly pick up from where you stopped.

Forza Horizon 3 Patch Glitch

An error by Microsoft Game Studios in distributing as new patch for Forza Horizon 3 yesterday resulted in gamers getting a complete unencrypted upcoming build of the racing game, rather than the new patch. This sounds cool, but it entailed a 53 GB download and will likely require players who tried playing it to download the full game once again (thanks Slashdot via Ant). In exchange for all that inconvenience, players who did play this developer's build got to see new cars coming in the future, including Porsches, a brand formerly constrained by an exclusive gaming license agreement. The initial post warned not to download or play the wrong version, and once the proper patch was released they offered this subsequent update to further explain what happened:

  • The incorrect PC version of FH3 has now been removed and replaced. PC players who have the FH3 version ending with .37.2 should immediately uninstall that version of the game, then re-install. The correct playable version should end in .35.2.
  • NOTE: PC players who completed the download of .37.2 and then started a new game save will have a corrupted saved game. Avoid creating a new saved game on .37.2, and only play on .35.2 to avoid this issue. As long as you have an existing save and have not created a new one on .37.2, your saved game will work correctly once the update is available.

More For Honor Heroes Revealed

UbiBlog announces the release of this trailer showing off new characters from For Honor, though the video is dated nearly two weeks ago. They say the hack-and-slash action game will enter beta testing this month, so they are revealing more of what to expect. Here's word:
New fighting styles have emerged in For Honor with the reveal of three new heroes. The Shugoki is the Samurai heavy-hitter who wades into battle with a bigger health pool than every other hero, ready to trade blows with his huge spiked club. This go-in-swinging style of combat is contrasted by the Peacekeeper, a nimble Knight hero who relies on darting into the fray, stabbing enemies with her dagger and causing them to bleed (and lose health over time), and then dodging away. The third hero, a hulking Viking called the Warlord, wields a heavy shield and short sword, making strong defense a cornerstone of his battlefield strategy. Watch this video to see these new heroes in action:

In addition to chatting with Game Director Roman Campos-Oriola about the three new heroes, we also talked about Elimination mode. This is a new, tactical battleground where you must depend on your teammates for revival (there are no respawns), and where potent power-ups can shift the balance of power.

Visit the official For Honor website to sign up for a chance to get a taste of the action yourself in the For Honor beta this January.
Continue here to read the full story.

The Plague Revealed

Focus Home Interactive announces The Plague, an action adventure game for PC and consoles in the works at French developer Asobo. This is a preliminary announcement with no release date and scant details, as they say a more complete unveiling will come on February 1st and 2nd at What's Next de Focus in Paris. In the meantime, they offer a first piece of concept art with a oddly vertical look at what they have in mind. There's a press release on the Asobo Studio website with all they are revealing for now. "Collaborating with Focus Home Interactive on a new, original creation of our team is a major step in the development of our studio," says Sebastian Wloch, CEO of Asobo. For this ambitious project, we needed the full support of a strong and growing publisher. The Focus team, through their professionalism, enthusiasm and openness, have naturally established themselves as the ideal partners to bring the experience we wish to offer to players."

VR Rifle and Haptic Vest Revealed

This press release about the showings of ROM Extraction at CES also discuss new virtual reality peripherals being demonstrated at the show along with the game. These are a wireless rifle peripheral and a haptic feedback vest made by VRsenal. Here's word on the game and the peripherals, daring to say they offer a "zero lag" wireless experience:
VRsenal builds the highest quality VR peripherals and integrations on the market. The VR-15 is completely wireless, with zero lag, and is fully integrated with the Vive’s Lighthouse system, allowing every move to be tracked with sub-millimeter accuracy. The VR-15 is constructed of engineering-grade nylon, and is hand-finished with a worn metal patina. It’s also outfitted with weighted trigger pull, four ambidextrous analogue thumbsticks, and glass optics for authenticity.

The team at First Contact has leveraged its background crafting AAA first-person-shooter games and cutting-edge VR projects to give ROM: Extraction an intense, highly replayable punch. Players defend themselves against extraterrestrial robots by utilizing their “Reflex” power (the ability to slow down time), which brings an unprecedented style of strategic combat to VR—which First Contact has dubbed "throw, slow and shoot." Beyond the expanded functionality brought by the VR-15, ROM: Extraction has a robust DLC plan that includes cooperative multiplayer, new levels, enemies, weapons, power-ups and more in the coming months. Today’s version of the game is just the tip of the iceberg.

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Got a new electric water kettle for making coffee here in the BlueTower, as the old one was developing some rust (in spite of being made from stainless steel). Shopping for these reveals an interesting paradox. They seem to come in two varieties: Besides the more common type with the side windows, there are versions that specifically avoid having any plastic come in contact with the water for those concerned about such things. This is the kind I got, and like many of them, it sports the longer gooseneck pouring spout favored by coffee nerds. The unfortunate thing is that these arguably better kettles seem to all be smaller, topping out at around a liter, while my old kettle could hold 1.7 liters. I don't see why avoiding plastics should require diminished capacity, but there it is. The weirder thing is that the plastic-free kettles also don't seem to feature any temperature controls. I could set my old kettle to 200ºF and be good to go when it finished, but this new one only boils. I'm not sure that this must be the case either, and it seems at odds with the coffee-centric pouring spout. So now I have to take the pot off and wait for it to cool a bit. The good news is that 200º was my compromise of the supposedly optimal brewing range of 195º-205º, but the experts say closer to 205º is better, so this will allow me to better pursue percolated perfection.

Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Xcross Madness.
Story: How Queen Elizabeth Was Almost Shot by Her Own Guard.
Science: Surprise! Monster Burst of Radio Waves Arose in Tiny Galaxy.
Less shrinkage: This is your aging brain on the Mediterranean diet.
Media: Canadian Skeet Shooting, eh.
This Sums Up Motherhood In 34 Seconds.
Where you going with that chicken leg, girl?
Cool Judge Being Fair and Reasonable.
Follow-up: Game of Thrones Season 7 will reportedly increase in 'size and scale'.
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