Archived News:

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 Happy Groundhog Day

Rainbow Six Siege Free Weekend

Steam News announces the previously revealed free weekend for Rainbow Six Siege is now underway. The free weekend runs into Sunday afternoon, and if you enjoy the game, it's currently on sale for half off. This post has more:
More than a year after its release, Rainbow Six Siege is going stronger than ever, with a continually growing player base, high-profile tournaments, and a second year's worth of DLC releases on the horizon. If you'd like to discover the speed, strategy, and tension of Rainbow Six Siege's high-stakes counterterrorism matches for yourself, you can jump in for free on all platforms from February 2-5. The free version of Rainbow Six Siege offers access to all of the maps, modes, and Operators present in the full version, giving you the full Siege experience over the free weekend. And if you want to keep playing after February 5, you can grab the full version at a 50% discount for a limited time, and keep all the progress you made during the trial period. The fun starts February 2, so gear up and get ready to breach.

Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade Announced

Stardock announces Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade, which will be their biggest expansion ever when it is released in the spring. This will add interactive planetary invasions, espionage and a deeper economic system to the 4X strategy game, features Stardock says were frequently requested. This will also introduce new alien civilizations, galactic citizens, and a civilization builder that will allow you to "create and play with (or against) any sci-fi or fantasy civilization you can imagine." Development will be chronicled in a series of developer diaries, and the first one of these is already online. Here's a trailer and the announcement:
Stardock announced Crusade, the long awaited expansion to its popular space 4X strategy game Galactic Civilizations III today.

The expansion adds a host of much anticipated features such as interactive planetary invasions, espionage, galactic citizens, a civilization builder, new playable civilizations, a new campaign, an updated diplomacy system, an updated graphics engine and much more.

"Our focus with Crusade has been to create a much deeper yet more approachable space strategy game," said Paul Boyer, Lead Designer of Galactic Civilizations III. "At the heart of your civilization are your citizens. What you do with your citizens, whether that be training them to be scientists, engineers, farmers, soldiers, diplomats, merchants and where you send them will determine how your civilization evolves."

Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade adds an extensive list of features, many of which fans have been asking for. A few notable examples include:

  • Interactive Invasions: Conquering an entire planet is no small feat. Now, players will take citizens that have been trained as soldiers and battle it out across the planet's surface. Invaders choose where they will land and defenders will choose where they will resist, both decisions requiring considerable strategic thinking.
  • Galactic Citizens: The player's agency within their civilizations are now expressed through their citizens. Citizens are created every several turns and can be specialized by the player into numerous specializations to help boost their civilization globally or to enhance a specific planet.
  • Espionage: Citizens trained as spies can now be used to to take down adversaries from behind the scenes. Players can use spies to destroy planetary improvements, steal technology or assassinate enemy agents.
  • Civilization Builder: From the main menu players can now design their own unique civilization including all the ships that player will use for each role. Players can design their own custom ships or download any of the over 12,000 ships that are available via Steam Workshop. With the Civilization Builder, players can literally create any fantasy or sci-fi civilization they can imagine and pit them against each other.
  • Crusade: The new single-player campaign introduces players to some of the new alien civilizations that the expansion introduces as well as provides a story-driven narrative of making the mistake that those soft, pink hominids of Sol 3 are push-overs.

Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade is set to release this Spring for $19.99 for existing Galactic Civilizations III owners. A weekly Development Diary going over the major new features begins today. Check out www.galciv3.com to see the first one.

To learn more about what's new in Crusade, please go to www.galciv3.com/crusade.

Continue here to read the full story.

Stellaris: Utopia Announced

Paradox Interactive announces Stellaris: Utopia, the first expansion for Stellaris, their sci-fi strategy game. This short teaser offers a first look and this product section is online, saying this is coming soon. Here's the plan:
We reach for the stars for many reasons. They challenge us to explore. They dare us to explain. They prod us to expand. But, most of all, the universe offers every space-faring race a new start. This is the chance to perfect the species and to reach new heights of self-awareness, technological prowess or spiritual enlightenment. You can only get to Utopia by moving faster than light.

Stellaris: Utopia is the first major gameplay expansion to Stellaris, Paradox’s critically acclaimed and best selling strategy game about building an empire in new galaxies. Utopia introduces new options for developing your empire, with new types of space stations and constructions that open alternate avenues for making your species the dominant power in the galaxy.

One of the core improvements in Utopia is the introduction of Ascension Perks. As your species advances and gains new traditions, it can choose how it wants to evolve as it is further enlightened. You can choose between a biological path, a psionic path or a synthetic path, with various options within these broad categories. Body, Mind or Machine - how will your species challenge the future?

Utopia also includes:

  • Megastructures: Build wondrous structures in your systems including Dyson Spheres and ring worlds, bringing both prestige and major advantages to your race.
  • Habitat Stations: Build “tall” and establish space stations that will house more population, serving the role of planets in a small and confined empire.
  • Rights and Privileges: Set specific policies for which of the many species under your thumb will have the rights and privileges of full citizenship. Build an egalitarian paradise or follow a caste system.
  • And even more improvements and updates, including (as is traditional with all of our paid content releases) free updates for every Stellaris owner!

Stellaris: Utopia brings even greater depth and variety to a game already celebrated for its story-telling power and near endless possibilities. Are you ready for perfection?

Continue here to read the full story.

Diluvion Released

Publisher Gambitious Digital Entertainment and developer Arachnid Games announce the release of Diluvion, their submarine exploration and action game for Windows and OS X. The game is available on GOG.com, Humble Store, and Steam, and there is also a premium Diluvion Fleet Edition with an exclusive playable submarine, a digital art book, and a soundtrack. The launch trailer offers a look, and here's word:
Deep below the frozen surface of a world devastated by a global flood rests an enormous undersea realm teeming with derelict vessels, unknown terrors and the last remnants of human civilization. As a freelance captain hunting riches and glory, Diluvion lets players pilot their very own submersibles, assembling their crew, managing resources, discovering uncharted harbors, trading loot, collecting bounties and fending off threats human and inhuman in real-time 3D combat to survive. Players can even build their own home bases to shelter their growing fleet of nine unique and upgradable ships over the course of their adventure through this hauntingly beautiful domain.
Continue here to read the full story.

Sovereignty: Crown of Kings Released

Slitherine now offers Sovereignty: Crown of Kings, a fantasy-themed 4X strategy game that has just graduated out of early access. This trailer celebrates the news, and the announcement fills in the details on the game:
The 4x fantasy title Sovereignty has finally clawed its way out of the clutches of Early Access into the gaming universe.

The game aims to fill a big gap in the market, with its 4X approach, brought to a fantasy world.

Mixing grand strategy, where resource management, diplomacy, and military aspects are key to progress and turn-based battles, where players are confronted with tactical issues.

The game features a bevy of different races and cultures, including Giants, Orcs, Humans, Dwarves, Elves and even chaotic evil factions. The game also includes a diplomacy, trade, recruitment and magic system that really fleshes out the existing concepts.

Although not an RPG, it makes use of the Good/Evil system present in many of these games. Some countries will be good, focused on chivalry and the betterment of society as a whole. Others, such as the dark and deeply occult wizards of Maledor, or the vicious Khazoth Orcs will have only plunder and destruction on their minds, falling into the Chaotic Evil category. With over 35 factions, each person is sure to find what they are looking for in this gem of a game.
Continue here to read the full story.

For Honor Season Pass and Free DLC Revealed

UbiBlog has details on a season pass of DLC that will follow the release of For Honor, as well as plans for some free content for the sword fighting game. Here's a new trailer and here's the news:
The contents of the For Honor Season Pass have been revealed. Let’s take a look at what it includes:

  • Six new Heroes – These will be released in batches of two at the beginning of each new season of the Faction War. Season Pass owners will have access to these Heroes seven days before they are available to all players. After the Season Pass early access period, these Heroes can be unlocked with Steel, For Honor’s in-game currency that can be earned by completing matches and in-game challenges.
  • Six elite outfits to customize the new heroes
  • Exclusive sunbeam effect on emotes for all Heroes
  • Three exclusive emblem outlines
  • Three scavenger crates that unlock additional gear
  • 30-Day Champion Status – Gives XP boosts to you and your friends, as well as more XP from crafting and more loot at the end of matches.

In addition to the Season Pass content, For Honor will feature free downloadable content that will be released over the course of the three seasons. This content includes new maps, modes, and gear that will be available to all players, but Season Pass owners will have an early access period for some elements of this content as well.

Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

  • Finding Teddy on IndieGameStand. Today's pay what you want indie game deal.
  • Ryse: Son of Rome on Steam. Save 75%.

Evening Crowdfunding Roundup

etc., etc.

EU Probing Steam and Others for Region Blocking Games

A press release from the European Commission says three investigations are now underway in the EU probing suspected anticompetitive practices in e-commerce. One of these investigations is geo-blocking agreements between Valve and five publishers (thanks Engadget). Here's word:
Video games
The Commission is investigating bilateral agreements concluded between Valve Corporation, owner of the Steam game distribution platform, and five PC video game publishers, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax. The investigation concerns geo-blocking practices, where companies prevent consumers from purchasing digital content, in this case PC video games, because of the consumer's location or country of residence.

After the purchase of certain PC video games users need to confirm that their copy of the game is not pirated to be able to play it. This is done with an "activation key" on Valve's game distribution platform, Steam. This system is applied for a wide range of games, including sports, simulation and action games.

The investigation focuses on whether the agreements in question require or have required the use of activation keys for the purpose of geo-blocking. In particular, an "activation key" can grant access to a purchased game only to consumers in a particular EU Member State (for example the Czech Republic or Poland). This may amount to a breach of EU competition rules by reducing cross-border competition as a result of restricting so-called "parallel trade" within the Single Market and preventing consumers from buying cheaper games that may be available in other Member States.

The Commission is carrying out this in-depth investigation on its own initiative.

WBIE Announcement Tease

A tweet from IGN France shows a save the date from WB Games for March 8th (presuming our rudimentary translation skills are on point). Dark Horizons notes this may be the announcement of a new Batman Arkham game. There's nothing specifically pointing to this and they also admit to the possibility they are just hyping themselves and the rest of us. Thanks nin.

GTR 3 Revealed

A post on RaceDepartment says Simbin is working on GTR 3 using Unreal Engine 4 with the plan of launching the racing simulation next year for Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 (thanks Team VVV). They report learning about this during a recent visit to the offices of Simbin, a reconstituted version of the studio that declared bankruptcy a couple of years ago. The new Simbin is operating with the assistance of Sector 3, the company that reformed out of the ashes of the original Simbin. The plan is to create a game that will manage to appeal to a more casual console audience while simultaneously satisfying the desire to deliver another accurate simulation to PC gamers. Here's a bit on how they hope to accomplish this:
When pushed on the subject of the direction for GTR 3, Speed confirmed both casual and serious sim racers will be catered for with the new sim.

"The plan will be at some point to branch off" said Allan. "It will be proper simulation but for the console version the casual user is just as important. At some point RaceRoom will switch over to the technology we are creating and we'll just take that a different route, as in simulation with support for both console and PC."

Adding to those comments, Chris Speed (Sector3 CEO) who is also heavily involved in the new venture with his brother and Simbin Studio Head Allan, elaborated on the direction of the new game:

"I think another point we need to take note of is, whilst the PC community would love this hard core simulation thing which is fine, as Allan said there is a console community that aren't going to fully adhere to that. The product at the end of the day needs to appeal to both sides, hardcore racer as awell and the casual gamer. A game that does that really really well is Formula One. I can have fantastic fun in the simulator on PC and I can have just as much fun as a casual gamer on a console. They do it really well. I'm not saying that's something we are going to follow completely, I'm just saying that they've done it and it's possible... The best way to put it is neither side will be forgotten."

DiRT Rally for Linux Next Month

Feral Interactive announces plans to launch a native Linux edition of DiRT Rally one month from today on March 2nd on Steam and The Feral Store. They offer this trailer from Codemasters' rally racing sequel, and while this offers a look at some had-driving gameplay, there's nothing about it particular to the Linux edition. Likewise, most of the announcement covers the game, rather than the port. Here's a bit:
Feral Interactive announced today that DiRT Rally will be released for Linux on 2 March 2017. Developed and published by Codemasters for Windows PC and consoles, the latest installment in the popular DiRT series returns to its roots to give players the ultimate rally driving experience.

In DiRT Rally, the official game of the FIA Rallycross Championship, players take the wheel of the world’s most iconic rally cars, including the MINI Cooper S and the Lancia Delta S4. They will need to choose the right tools, strategy and team to master events in over 70 stages across Greece, Wales, Monte Carlo, Germany, Finland and Sweden. Each race offers up a new challenge with a range of environments such as muddy paths, dusty trails and snow-laden tracks, as well as a variety of weather types.
Continue here to read the full story.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Happy Groundhog Day! As I mentioned yesterday this has been a pretty mild winter here in the northeast, but that doesn't reduce hopes for an early spring, so lets turn to the weather rodents. As unlikely as it seems based on how overcast is was yesterday, apparently Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, leading to his prediction of six more weeks of winter. But even closer to the BlueTower is Staten Island Chuck, reputed to have an 80% success rate, and beloved for his feisty relationship with publicity-hungry mayors (Mayor de Blasio did not attend today after dropping Chuck in 2014 though it was later reported to be a female stand-in after this accidental public execution). Chuck (presuming the substitute groundhog story isn't a conspiracy) did not see his shadow, and called for an early spring. Reports that Chuck called Phil an untalented hack along the way remain unconfirmed. It's frustrating to get mixed results from such an exact science like shadow spotting, but there it is.

Shadowy Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Angry Gran Run: Paris.
Link: M.I.A. — The Atavist Magazine. Thanks nin.
Story: Why Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 Needed To Be Very Different From The First Movie, According To James Gunn.
Science: How Mind-Reading Technology Can Enable Locked-in Patients to 'Talk'.
Study suggests air pollution increases risk for Alzheimer's disease.
Report finds chemicals in one-third of fast food packaging.
Media: Survival ZombieCraft Z. Thanks Kxmode.
Death Battle: Lara Croft VS Nathan Drake.
"NFL 2017" — A Bad Lip Reading of the NFL.
Follow-up: Boston Dynamics' "nightmare-inducing" new robot revealed in leaked video. Thanks Neutronbeam.
The Funnies: Savage Chickens.
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