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Thursday, Nov 09, 2017

  

EA to Acquire Respawn

Electronic Arts announces plans to acquire Respawn Entertainment, developers of the Titanfall series. It looks like the deal is worth between $315 million and $445 million, with $151 million of that in cash, and the variable being up to $140 million based on performance milestones. Here's more:

Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) announced today an agreement to acquire Respawn Entertainment, LLC, a leading independent game development studio and creators of AAA shooter and action games including the critically-acclaimed Titanfall™ franchise. Respawn brings to EA the proven leadership and studio talent behind Titanfall and Titanfall 2, two of the most highly-rated shooter titles in the last five years. The acquisition builds on a successful publishing partnership between Respawn and EA, with multiple projects currently in development – a new title in the Titanfall franchise, a game set in the Star Wars™ universe and a VR gaming experience.

“We’ve seen firsthand the world-class caliber of Respawn as a development studio with incredible vision, deep talent and an inspiring creative mindset,” said Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts. “Our longtime partnership is grounded in a shared desire to push the boundaries and deliver extraordinary and innovative new experiences for players around the world. Together, we’ve brought this to life in the Titanfall franchise, and now with the Respawn team joining EA, we have exciting plans to accomplish even more amazing things in the future.”

“We started Respawn with the goal to create a studio with some of the best talent in the industry, and to be a top developer of innovative games,” said Vince Zampella, CEO of Respawn Entertainment. “We felt that now was the time to join an industry leader that brings the resources and support we need for long term success, while still keeping our culture and creative freedom. EA has been a great partner over the years with Titanfall and Titanfall 2, and we’re excited to combine our strengths. This is a great next step for Respawn, EA, and our players.”

Continue here to read the full story.

GOG.com Celebrates Syberia 3: The Complete Journey with Syberia Giveaway

GOG.com is holding a free giveaway the first Syberia game to celebrate the launch of Syberia 3: The Complete Journey. The new bundle includes the adventure sequel and all its post-release content, and it's on sale for 57% off for the first week. As for the giveaway, they are offering gamers 48 hours to pick up their DRM-free copy of the first game in the series. Here's word:

GIVEAWAY: Grab your free copy of Syberia 1 until November 11, 6PM UTC, and discover how Kate's fantastic story begun in the sleepy village of Valadilène.

Claim it through the button on the front page banner.

Syberia 3: The Complete Journey is now available, DRM-free on GOG.com with a 57% discount until November 13, 11PM UTC.

Kate Walker returns for another magical point & click adventure alongside the nomadic Youkoles and their peculiar beasts. A new villain is threatening their peaceful ways while Kate realizes she finally needs to put the shadows of her past to rest.

The Complete Journey includes the game's soundtrack, by acclaimed composer Inon Zur, and the DLC An Automaton with a plan, a new story starring the stubborn automaton Oscar, as he investigates Kate Walker's mysterious disappearance.

GOG Connect: Syberia 1 and 2 are now available on GOG Connect until November 13, 11PM UTC.

LawBreakers Free Weekend

The promised free weekend is now underway for LawBreakers on Steam, offering the chance to play Boss Key's shooter, pick up a copy for half-price, and perhaps win a copy of the Collector's Edition. This post on Steam outlines the particulars, starting with this overview:

The time to jump into the heart-pumping, in-your-face, omnidirectional gameplay of LawBreakers has never been better. Not only are we giving players the chance to try LawBreakers during a free weekend on Steam, but we've got a 50% off sale for both Steam and PS4 (North America only).

Be sure to grab LawBreakers at the lowest price it’s ever been - but don’t delay, this limited time sale ends on November 14!

STEAM DISCOUNT
Starts: Wednesday, November 8 10am PT / 1pm ET / 7pm CET
Ends: Tuesday, November 14 10am PT / 1pm ET / 7pm CET

Squad Free Weekend

Steam is holding another free event this weekend, announcing everyone has access to Squad through Sunday afternoon. The early access multiplayer shooter is also on sale for half-off for the duration. Here's word on the game's 100-player battles:

Squad is a 50 vs 50 multiplayer first-person shooter that aims to capture combat realism through communication and teamplay, emphasizing both strong squad cohesion mechanics as well as larger scale coordination, tactics and planning. It features large open maps, vehicle-based combined arms gameplay, and player-constructed bases to create a heart-thumping, visceral gaming experience which mixes organized tactical multi-squad planning with split second decision-making in real-world scale firefights.

Play Overwatch Free Next Weekend

Blizzard announces next week they will hold another free weekend for Overwatch, their multiplayer shooter:

Attention, recruits! If you haven't already had the opportunity to suit up and save the world as one of the heroes of Overwatch, now's your chance.

From November 17–20, we're calling on all prospective agents: assemble your team and dive in during the Overwatch Free Weekend on PC, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One!

For this free weekend, we're making Overwatch's full roster of 26 heroes and 16 maps available for play in a variety of modes, including Quick Play, Custom Games, and the Arcade. Players will also have the ability to level up, earn Loot Boxes, and unlock a variety of different customization options.

Plus, if you decide to purchase Overwatch after test driving the game, you'll get to keep any progress that you made during the weekend—just be sure to use the same Blizzard, Sony Entertainment, or Xbox Live account that you played on.

For more details and to learn how you can participate, read on below!

TransRoad: USA Rolls Out

Publisher astragon Entertainment and developer Deck13 Hamburg announce the promised release of TransRoad: USA, their new business sim that travels the highways of the USA for fun and profit. The release trailer shows the game in motion, and the announcement lays out its roadmap:

The endless freedom of travelling the famous US highways is finally within reach of all truck and logistics fans: TransRoad: USA, the new business simulation by Deck13 Hamburg and astragon entertainment, lets them enter the race to the title of the United States’ biggest hauler today on PC!

The release trailer for TransRoad: USA will set the perfect mood for everyone looking to start their very own trucking adventure: https://youtu.be/QIcP2eXzJJ0

Three exciting game modes (campaign, quest and sandbox), up to five AI-controlled competitors, 37 US-American cities and a potential client base consisting of 77 businesses from 14 industries await the ambitious entrepreneur on the challenging way to his very own logistics empire in TransRoad: USA. Other features include seven different trailer types, hundreds of trucks, lots of drivers and of course a wide range of interesting challenges such as economic upturns, financial crises, demanding (and therefore especially lucrative) special orders as well as tricky missions in the quest and campaign modes.

The game’s freely zoomable 3D map ensures that the virtual manager will always stay on top of things when it comes to his trucks, contracts, clients. How about a little bit of relaxation between difficult decisions? The truck camera allows he player to follow individual trucks on their way across the whole country and to enjoy the lovingly modeled scenery. 19 famous landmarks such as the Hoover Dam, the Statue of Liberty or the Golden Gate Bridge can also be discovered by the player and will create a feeling of really travelling across the USA.

In addition to its own country music inspired soundtrack TransRoad: USA offers its players an internet radio plug-in that will give them the opportunity to add their favorite radio stations to the game and thus create the perfect musical score for their very own trucking adventure.

TransRoad: USA is available now on PC for 24.99 Euro/24.99 USD/22.99 GBP (RRP).

Continue here to read the full story.

Arma 3 Tac-Ops DLC This Month

Bohemia Interactive unveils new Tac-Ops DLC coming to Arma 3 on November 30th, saying this will add three new single-player missions to their military shooter sequel. Here's the big picture:

The Arma 3 Tac-Ops DLC Mission Pack consists of a set of missions that provide a true combat experience in an unrestricted war zone. Here, players will need to lead their brothers in arms through situations that require careful preparation, tactical movement and positioning, and skillful shooting – as well as the ability to adapt and improvise at a moment’s notice. The missions should take at least 8+ hours to complete altogether, which soon becomes more depending on people's playstyle and difficulty settings. Players are also strongly encouraged to replay the missions with a different approach – or even from another unit’s perspective in some of the operations.

The key features of the Arma 3 Tac-Ops Mission Pack include:

  • 3 Singleplayer Operations – Designed for the experienced Arma player, this Mission Pack features three challenging military operations:
    • Beyond Hope - Nine years prior to the "East Wind" conflict, civil war rages through the Republic of Altis and Stratis.
    • Stepping Stone - NATO reinforcements responding to the "East Wind" crisis must first secure the strategic island of Malden.
    • Steel Pegasus - During the invasion of Altis, NATO forces stage a daring air assault to open a second front.
  • Authentic Warfare – Experience what true military combat is like with missions that favor intelligence, caution, and patience above all else. Fight alongside multiple armed forces, and lead your unit to victory, alive.
  • Evolving Battlefield – Discover how your conduct and decisions on the battlefield can affect the operation by completing, failing, or ignoring (optional) objectives.
  • Replayability – Replay a selection of missions from a different unit’s perspective to gain a greater understanding of the operation. Try out various tactics and figure out how to achieve your objectives in different ways.
  • After Action Report (AAR) Videos – Develop your understanding of military tactics and combat with practical mission-specific insights from one of our military consultants.
  • And More – Listen to newly composed music tracks, unlock additional Steam Achievements, and take advantage of new scripted systems to help create advanced custom Arma 3 scenarios.

Serious Sam 3 VR: BFE Launches

Publisher Devolver Digital and developer Croteam now offer Serious Sam 3 VR: BFE on Steam, offering a virtual reality take on the newest installment in the hectic shooter series. This supports Windows and Linux, and requires either a Vive or a Rift headset. This video provides a look at this in action, and the announcement has more details:

Croteam and Devolver Digital have launched Serious Sam 3 VR: BFE to complete an unbelievable run of premiere VR releases this year including Serious Sam VR and The Talos Principle VR. The VR remaster of Croteam’s best-selling shooter is available on Steam with a 10 percent discount for all users plus an additional 10 percent off for users that own the standard Serious Sam 3 [http://store.steampowered.com/app/567670/].

Serious Sam 3 VR: BFE is a virtual reality action shooter, a glorious throwback to the golden age of first-person with true VR locomotion support, online cooperative mode, and versus deathmatch. Serving as a prequel to the original indie and Game of the Year sensation, Serious Sam: The First Encounter, Serious Sam VR 3: BFE takes place during the Earth’s final struggle against Mental’s invading legions of beasts and mercenaries.

Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Patches

On Sale

Evening Interviews

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Obsidian Tease

A tweet from Obsidian seems to tease a new game announcement, as it lays out the developer's resume to date with a conspicuous line of question marks apparently signifying their next project (thanks VG247). Here's what they posted:

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords

Neverwinter Nights 2

Alpha Protocol

Fallout: New Vegas

Dungeon Siege III

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Pillars of Eternity

Armored Warfare

Pathfinder Adventures

Tyranny

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

???

Why Call of Duty Reenlisted in WWII

How The New Call Of Duty Reinvents Old Battlegrounds on Newsweek hears from Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg about Call of Duty: WWII, the just-released military shooter that revisits its original setting (thanks GameSpot). One tidbit from the conversation is how this return to World War II came to be, as Hirshberg explains that the developers at Sledgehammer wanted to go back to the future and make Advanced Warfare 2 before the executive branch exerted creative influence:

“Sledgehammer wanted to make Advanced Warfare 2,” Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg told Newsweek. A sequel to 2014’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare seemed obvious, as it was regarded positively by fans and critics alike. But Hirshberg and his colleagues saw a deeper trend emerging from their millions-strong audience. Many fans called for the franchise to return to its real history roots; the first six installments of the multi-billion dollar franchise were all set during World War II. And he was confident that Sledgehammer would be the studio to go there. “We knew they would become historians, that they would tackle it with authenticity, give it tremendous care and we also knew they would capture the unspeakable scale of World War II.”

Star Wars Battlefront II Specs

The GeForce website now offers NVIDIA's assessment of the performance you can expect from their graphics cards to run Star Wars Battlefront II, the upcoming Star Wars action sequel. They also point the way to this post about the recent beta that offers general system specifications. NVIDIA recommends a GTX 1060 to run the game at 1920x1080, a GTX 1070 for 2560x1440, and a GTX 1080 Ti for 3840x2160. And here are the system specs:

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS (PC)

Minimum Requirements

  • OS: 64-bit Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10
  • Processor (AMD): AMD FX-6350
  • Processor (Intel): Intel Core i5 6600K
  • Memory: 8GB RAM
  • Graphics card (AMD): AMD Radeon™ HD 7850 2GB
  • Graphics card (NVIDIA): NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 660 2GB
  • DirectX: 11.0 Compatible video card or equivalent
  • Online Connection Requirements: 512 KBPS or faster Internet connection
  • Hard-drive space: 25GB

Recommended Requirements

  • OS: 64-bit Windows 10 or later
  • Processor (AMD): AMD FX 8350 Wraith
  • Processor (Intel): Intel Core i7 6700 or equivalent
  • Memory: 16GB RAM
  • Graphics card (AMD): AMD Radeon™ RX 480 4GB
  • Graphics card (NVIDIA): NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 1060 3GB
  • DirectX: 11.1 Compatible video card or equivalent
  • Online Connection Requirements: 512 KBPS or faster Internet connection
  • Hard-drive space: 25GB

Ascent: Infinite Realm Announced

Kakao Games announces plans to publish the western release of Ascent: Infinite Realm, an MMORPG currently in development at Bluehole, the South Korean studio behind TERA and PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS. This reveal trailer offers a look, and here's the announcement:

Today, Kakao Games has announced that it will be publishing the new MMORPG Ascent: Infinite Realm, or A:IR, in Western territories. This upcoming MMORPG for PC is being developed by Bluehole, a leading South Korean studio known for the highly successful Tera and their recent blockbuster hit PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

A:IR was unveiled during today’s G-Star Bluehole media showcase in Busan, South Korea. The media briefing showcased A:IR’s open world―marrying a steampunk setting with high fantasy magical elements―as well as the Realm vs Realm (RvR) aerial combat feature that pits all kinds of fantastical ships against one another. A:IR will be playable at the Bluehole booth (A04) during the G-Star exhibition, held at the Busan Exhibition & Convention Center (BEXCO).

Watch today’s new trailer for a first ever look at A:IR’s gameplay and features: https://youtu.be/uvZo59uhz5E

Kakao Games expects to prepare a first Beta test for Ascent: Infinite Realm in the first half of 2018. Initially, Kakao Games intends to localize the game in English, German, and French.

Minsung Kim, CEO of Kakao Games Europe, said: “All of us at Kakao Games are very proud to be able to work with the remarkable talent at Bluehole and bring their new AAA MMORPG to Western audiences. We are confident that we can localize their creative vision effectively and help make A:IR into a massive global success.”

Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Patches

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Interviews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

I had a dentist appointment yesterday, but I got a call from the office to postpone it until next week. I joked with the young lady who called that I have a 48-hour cancellation policy, so I was going to have to charge them. She thought this was delightful, and promised to tell the doctor. Then I got a call about 45 minutes later, saying they had received the lab delivery that provoked the setback, so I could come in sooner if I wanted. I asked if my original appointment was still available, and was told it was already filled. Had I called them to cancel the appointment with three hours notice, the indeed would have charged me for my appointment, but in this case they were able to find someone to take my appointment in the time it takes to get a pizza delivered. It really does make me want to print up a bill for them.

R.I.P.: Overwatch and League of Legends veteran, Dennis 'INTERNETHULK' Hawelka, has died.
R.I.P.: Bond girl Karin Dor, star of You Only Live Twice, dies.

Billable Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: AFO Reloaded.
Story: Louisiana Deputy Shoots, Kills 12-Pound Family Dog. Complains about cost of the bullet. Thanks Boing Boing.
Science: The future is here: Genetically engineered stem cells save a patient.
Superlong Supernova Explosion Defies Scientists' Understanding of Stars. Champagne Supernova.
Breast cancer 'can return 15 years after treatment ends'.
Media: Cannabis commercial mocks prescription drug commercials.
Honey Badger Houdini. Thanks Boing Boing. Maybe just set him free?
Jon Stewart Gives Conan NYC Citizenship Test.
Adam Savage won't work with Jamie Hyneman anymore. Thanks RedEye9.
Follow-up: Quest To Stop Mosquitoes With Bacteria Gets EPA Approval.
Kevin Spacey: Completed film to be reshot without accused actor.
Universal's 'Dark Universe' in Peril as Top Producers Exit.

Wednesday, Nov 08, 2017

Hellbound Announced

Saibot Studios announces Hellbound, drawing our attention by describing this as a 90s-style first-person shooter that's using the Unreal Engine 4 to capture the feel of classics such as DOOM, QUAKE, and Duke Nukem 3D. This trailer (NSFW) teases the game and its BFGs, and if you're drawn in, you can sign up for the closed beta test on the official website. Here's word:

Hellbound is the latest PC title by Saibot Studios, the team behind popular horror series Doorways. Inspired by DOOM, Quake, Duke Nukem 3D, Blood and many other shooters of the past, the game experience is focused on shooting, explosions, blood and speed. You have never played something so GROTESQUE!

Players take control of Hellgore, a big-ass motherf*cker who kills demons in Hell. That’s it. Is there a story behind all this? Well… yes, there’s a story, but it's not that important! The real protagonists are the fast-paced action and the gory violence.

Hellbound will be available very soon in PC, first as a Survival Mode that will equip players with the heaviest fire guns of Hell to pit them against hordes of fearsome demons and other monstrous enemies. Closed beta registration is now open on the official Website.

Continue here to read the full story.

LawBreakers Free Weekend

A Steam Community Announcement informs us that this weekend will be another free trial for LawBreakers, the multiplayer shooter from Boss Key Productions. This will get underway tomorrow, and this post notes that and the game is also currently on sale for half off, and that they will conduct a free Collector's Edition giveaway tomorrow as well, though this involves purchasing the base version. Here's word on the free weekend:

Get your keyboard + mice ready - a Free Weekend on Steam is coming at ya this Thursday, November 9. There has never been a better time to convince your friends and family to Get in the Game. So, be sure to tell your friends who haven’t yet jumped into the chaos of zero-g that this is the chance they have been waiting for. The latest version of LawBreakers now has more onboarding materials like the Guided Tutorial, our Ranked Mode Boss Leagues and much more!

But that’s not all! Not only can you and your friends jump into the gravity defying action of LawBreakers for free this weekend, we’ve also made sure to celebrate this event with a huge 50% off sale. It’s the perfect time to buy during this limited time offer, because half-off won’t last forever.

And for our most devoted fans, we’re going to be running a LawBreakers Collector’s Edition giveaway! You’ll be able to win one of the super limited, sold out Collector’s Editions for your platform of choice. Stay tuned to our channel, as details are coming soon!

Free Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms Starter Pack

The Idle Champions Starter Pack for Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms is free on Steam for the next 48 hours. This offers a quick leg up in this free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons adventure game for Windows and macOS. Word is: "Get an entry-level boost to start your Idle Champions adventure with a piece of gear for Bruenor and two Gold Chests." The free offer runs until noon Eastern time on Sunday.

GOG Revives Three Sierra Classics

The good old gamers at GOG.com announce they've added three classic Sierra games from back in the day to the DRM-free offerings on their service, Rise of the Dragon, Heart of China, and Conqueror A.D. 1086. Here's word on the new additions, which include a pair of games developed by Dynamix:

Take a few bytes of gaming history with GOG.com, the digital game store where the oldies come to play.

Today, three productions from the Sierra & Dynamix back catalog return, including two legendary Jeff Tunnell adventures (designer for Incredible Machines, Willy Beamish, and Betrayal at Krondor) – fully restored for with modern computers, exclusively on GOG.com:

Rise of the Dragon
With its noir cyberpunk setting, the Blade Runner inspirations are undeniable and that's a good enough reason to not pass this one by. Furthermore, the story-heavy gameplay and stylish art set the stage for years of unforgettable Sierra adventures, making Rise of the Dragon an influential release and noteworthy experience even today.

Heart of China
A product of its time through and through, this 1991 adventure plays like an interactive-comic trip through an admittedly outmoded depiction of 1930s China. According to Computer Gaming World, "Heart of China is everything a good adventure movie should be: fast-paced, tense, ingenious, witty, varied of locale and light of plot. Above all, it is entertaining." It was labeled one of the 50 best computer games ever by PC Format in 1991.

Conqueror A.D. 1086
Fast-forward a few years to 1995, and travel back to medieval Europe. Conqueror A.D. 1086 is a blend of strategy, management, and a sprinkle of action – taking you from but a child, to conqueror of lands or slayer of dragons.

Evening Crowdfunding Roundup

  • Project Sense - 不祥的预感- A Cyberpunk Ghost Story Adventure by Benjamin W Widdowson - ProjectSenseDev — Kickstarter. "Sense - 不祥的预感: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story is a 2.5D game inspired in design by Clock Tower and Fatal Frame, and story-wise by sci-fi classics like Bladerunner as well as heavily from Traditional Asian Folklore. Set in the year 2083 in Neo Hong-Kong, the story follows Mei-Lin Mak, a young woman with cybernetic eyes pulled into the maelstrom of an unsolved supernatural mystery from centuries past. As she peers deeper into the mystery, her perception of reality slowly crumbles around her, leaving her to question every intricacy of her surroundings." A playable demo is available, and here's a trailer.

Evening Interviews

Evening Patches

On Sale

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

etc., etc.

Into the Black

F2P Battlerite Launches

Stunlock Studios announces Battlerite has graduated from early access to a full release, kicking off the free-to-play era for their Windows team arena brawler. The game is available on Steam where they are also selling character packs and the soundtrack. This announcement includes a free-to-play launch trailer, while this announcement has all the details:

Independent developer Stunlock Studios announced today that team arena brawler Battlerite has now officially moved from Early Access to a full free-to-play commercial launch on Steam. To celebrate, the studio has unleashed a launch patch featuring a brand new champion, ‘Thorn,’ 200 new items including rare weapons, outfits, victory poses, legendary color variations and seven additional music tracks. Unlock and master a roster of powerful champions, fight side by side with your teammates in quick skill-based battles, and prove you deserve to stand victorious in the Battlerite arena.

“It’s been one hell of a year since we entered Steam Early Access and we can finally deliver on our promise to launch Battlerite as a free-to-play game, making it easily accessible to all PvP arena brawler fans to enjoy,” said Peter Ilves, Game Director at Stunlock Studios. “As of today, new players can join the Battlerite community for free in rapid fire, competitive battles requiring to prove your mettle. So jump in and show off your skills on the fighting ground. The arena awaits, brawlers!”

Enter Battlerite’s arena and engage in quick and intense action through highly competitive, rip-roaring 2v2 and 3v3 battles in a vibrant, colosseum-style surrounding. Control one of 22 champions that specialise in either melee, support, or ranged combat - from Bakko, the heroic brawler, or Jade, the long-range gunner, to Blossom, the ultimate team support. It’s all about skill-shots, timing, and reactions as you dodge projectiles and pull off massive ultimate attacks using intuitive WASD movement and cursor-based aiming. Team up with friends, smash in style, and triumph over the competition.

Each week players will get access to six unique champions on free rotation, allowing players to try out new playstyles and discover their favorites. Every character can be permanently unlocked with in-game currency or in-app purchases. As of today, the “Champion’s Pack” is available to unlock all 22 current and all future champions for $29.99/27.99€/23.79£.

Continue here to read the full story.

Total War: ROME II - Empire Divided This Month

Creative Assembly announces Total War: ROME II - Empire Divided, a new DLC pack for Total War: ROME II coming to the historical strategy game on November 30th. This will come along with a new Power & Politics patch which will be free for all owners of the game, and they say this overhauls the game's political system "to create a more subtle and intriguing experience with farther-reaching consequences." The DLC is already available for pre-purchase on Steam, while those interested in beta testing the new patch should read this update/FAQ which has details on how to get into the test. Here's word:

It is the crisis of the third century. A string of inept emperors and usurpers vying for power have torn the Roman Empire into three factions, and with barbarians and Eastern Empires ready to exploit the chaos, it's do-or-die time. On November 30th, players can reunite the empire or tear it down in this new, grand-scale campaign pack for Total War: ROME II.

Total War: ROME II - Empire Divided features a host of new content to give a new lease on life to ROME II; including 10 different playable factions, new victory conditions and new campaign features such as plagues, cults and banditry. Empire Divided also puts a heavy focus on telling the stories of the characters and powers involved in this rich and fascinating period.

Also joining Empire Divided on November 30th is the free Power & Politics patch update. This update overhauls ROME II's political system to create a more subtle and intriguing experience with farther-reaching consequences.

New HITMAN Plans

A post from Io-Interactive from Io CEO Hakan Abrak reflects on the launch of the HITMAN Game of the Year edition. He thanks customers for their support, saying this is how they have been able to thrive during their return to independence. He concludes with a mention of the next game in their assassin-for-hire series, though he says they won't share any details about this until sometime next year:

I also want to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you, in advance, to everyone who supports us by purchasing the GOTY Edition or the Upgrade. Your support will directly help us to continue on our independent journey towards the next Hitman game and beyond. We’re in this together and we promise that we will channel our passion and skills to shine through in everything that comes from this studio.

One last thing about our next Hitman game; I want to let you know that we’re making great progress and we have exciting new features and some franchise firsts, which we can’t wait to tell you all about. You’ll have to wait a little longer as we don’t plan to start talking about that until some point in 2018.

Continue here to read the full story.

Call of Duty: WWII's Big Launch

Activision celebrates the success of Call of Duty: WWII, saying their military shooter sequel earned over half-a-billion dollars during its three-day launch weekend. They make a favorable apples-to-oranges comparison to the launches of recent blockbuster films, and say it sold twice as many units as last year's Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare launch, so presumably nobody is complaining about player counts. Here's word:

Activision’s Call of Duty®: WWII has surpassed more than $500 million in sell-through worldwide in its first three days of release, topping popular theatrical box office openings Thor: Ragnarok and Wonder Woman combined, according to company estimates.

On PlayStation®4, Call of Duty: WWII set a record as the best-selling digital full game by units sold on its first day of availability. Overall unit sales at launch doubled year-over-year globally.

The gripping, personal narrative, boots-on-the-ground multiplayer and terrifying nazi zombies mode attracted players worldwide resulting in the highest total connected users on current generation consoles and PC in Call of Duty® history.

"We challenged our players to get their squads back together and they answered the call, with the highest number of players we’ve ever seen on current gen consoles and PC,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision. “Call of Duty: WWII returns the franchise to its roots and the results are incredible, selling twice as many units in its opening weekend as last year, and setting the day one record for full-game downloads on PlayStation 4. Our $500 million opening weekend was not only bigger than Thor: Ragnarok's, it was bigger than the opening weekends of both Thor and Wonder Woman combined. And we're committed to supporting the community with continuous improvements and new content.”

Figures include Call of Duty: WWII retail and digital sell-through, and reported movie sales, each for the opening three-days following initial launch, according to publicly-available data, retail customer sell-through information and internal Activision estimates. Digital downloads of Call of Duty: WWII is based on unit sell-through on first day of availability.

Command & Conquer Speculation

Greg Black tweets about his return to Electronic Arts, where he once worked on the Command & Conquer series with credits including Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge, Lord of the Rings: Battle For Middle-Earth II, Command & Conquer 3, and Red Alert 3. The last mention of him here was when he reflected on the state of the C&C series after he left EA, explaining how Command & Conquer 4 turned out how it did. GameWatcher notes his most recent project before this reunion was working at Blizzard on StarCraft II, and his return home has them speculating that we may yet see another RTS game in the C&C series. Greg isn't spilling any beans yet, saying simply:

Survived my first day back at @EA

It's a weird feeling being back after all this time. Can't wait to show you all what I'm working on. :)

Videogame Voice Actor Strike Ends

SAG-AFTRA announces its membership has voted to end the videogame voice-actor strike they declared over two years ago. A tentative agreement was announced in September, and now word is this was passed "overwhelmingly" by a nine-to-one margin, though the deal only covers the next three years. Here are the details:

In national voting completed today, members of SAG-AFTRA voted overwhelmingly to approve the successor to the Interactive Media Video Game Agreement by a vote of 90 percent to 10 percent.

The terms of the tentative agreement, which was reached on September 22, include a new bonus structure that provides additional payments to performers based on number of sessions worked. The bonus payments, which are due no later than the release date of the game, begin with an additional $75 payment on the first session and totaling $2,100 after 10 sessions worked.

The deal also contains new transparency provisions that will enhance the bargaining power of our members’ representatives by requiring the companies to disclose the code name of project, its genre, whether the game is based on previously published intellectual property and whether the performer is reprising a prior role. Members are also protected by the disclosure of whether they will be required to use unusual terminology, profanity or racial slurs, whether there will be content of a sexual or violent nature and whether stunts will be required.

In addition, the deal includes an employer commitment to continue working with SAG-AFTRA on the issue of vocal stress during the term of the agreement.

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Death Coming Leaves Early Access After One Day

NEXT Studio announces the early access for Death Coming they launched on Monday concluded yesterday, and the Windows pixel-art puzzle game is now officially available on Steam. This is an unofficial sort of official, as they say this is because they accidentally entered some sort of launch code which cannot be undone (thankfully they are not in charge of any nuclear weapon stockpiles). They call this "the shortest EA period ever," though it's hard to rule out the possibility this is all a publicity stunt, but their announcement does ask that we still judge this as an early access game:

"On Nov. 7th, we uploaded Version 426 after fixing bugs all through the night. However, at the same time, we accidently released the game unexpectedly! When we spotted this from comments by players, we found we could not go back to *Early Access*. Even though we are mad with ourselves, we have to accept this accident.

Just like our slogan: life is about accidents and how we face up to them. We will face it. In an unexpected way, we have jumped from beta test to releasing, but that doesn’t mean we have done our work. On the contrary, we are still doing our best to make it the best game possible.

Please still consider Death Coming as an Early Access game at least for the time being as we continue to polish the game and bug fix. Please continue to send us your report bugs and leave feedback on discussion boards and we will continue fixing bugs and making improvements based on your comments. Thank you for your understanding and support of the game!"

How to Infest Nioh with Mice

As was revealed last week, the newly launched Nioh: Complete Edition does not support mouse control. Now a post on DSOGaming details a workaround for this. It's not being pitched as perfect, but they point the way to a utility to allow the mouse to emulate a joystick. They note that this is not perfectly smooth, but does work, and the same utility can be used to add mouse support to other games where it is lacking.

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Out of the Blue

Walking the doggies this week reminds me how much I hate standard time. Heading out at 5:00 pm before the clocks changed was already bad enough, as it was pretty much sundown by the time we got back. With daylight saving time concluded, it was dusk when we headed out at 5:00 on Monday, and pitch black by the time we returned. Yesterday I got out earlier, but it was still completely dark by the time we got home. We don't have many streetlights around here, so this is a problem. For now I'm carrying a flashlight to find camouflaged poop, but Jedi's mom has ordered LED collars for Jedi and the Gunnar-man to help make them more visible at night. The cool thing about the collars is that one setting flashes the lights, so we'll not only be more visible out there, but when boredom strikes we can disco. Now it's time to add the soundtrack from Saturday Night Fever, or at least A Night at the Roxbury.

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