Archived News:

Monday, Nov 20, 2017

Free Brütal Legend

The Fall Sale on The Humble Store rolls on, and they are now offering a new free game after last week's Killer is Dead giveaway. Today's offering is Brütal Legend, Double Fine's rock-and-roll adventure where you play as a jacked Jack Black. This is playable on Windows, Linux, and macOS, and is redeemed via a Steam key if you pick up your free copy by Wednesday afternoon. Here's a refresher on the game:
Brütal Legend is an action-adventure that marries visceral action combat with open-world freedom. Set in a universe somewhere between Lord of the Rings and Spinal Tap, it’s a fresh take on the action/driving genre, which in this case is full of imitation cover bands, demons intent on enslaving humanity and Heavy metal tunes. Featuring the talents of comedian, actor and musician, Jack Black as super roadie Eddie Riggs, as well as cameos by some of the biggest names in metal music it's a wild ride in the belly of the beast that is not to be missed by gamers and Metalheads alike.

Included as a free bonus in the PC version of Brütal Legend are both the Hammer of Infinite Fate and Tears of the Hextadon multiplayer map packs.

Star Wars Battlefront II Controversy Affects EA Stock and NFS Payback

GameSpot notes that while EA's share price is way up year-to-date, it took a hit following the controversy over microtransactions in Star Wars Battlefront II, saying it was down about 2.5% the day of the launch of the action game. Also, GamesIndustry.biz notes a post on reddit signaling EA is also changing how progression works in Need for Speed Payback, which seems to be an attempt to head off more controversy. Here's what they are changing in the recently released driving game:
Hey Everyone, bit of an update for you.

As you’ve seen from previous updates recently, we’ve been working on improving your experience with the progression.

We’ve been using Community feedback, along with our own in-game data and have come up with a number of changes, many of which are in the process of going live. Our aim with these changes is to make the progression, especially around the ownership of cars a much more enjoyable experience.

If you're currently playing the game while reading this, please restart in order for the changes to come into effect.

  • Increased the amount of REP awarded by taking part in events.
  • Increased the amount of Bank awarded by taking part in events.
  • Bait crates now reward increased REP.
  • Bait crates now reward increased Bank.
  • Competing against a Roaming Racer will reward you with increased REP.
  • Competing against a Roaming Racer will reward you with increased Bank.
  • Air Suspension will now appear more frequently within Shipments.
  • Slightly increased REP and Bank for finishing an event outside of first place.

Today’s changes are just phase one and we have further tweaks coming. Coming shortly will be some changes to the way tune-up shops work, especially around the quality / level of parts they stock. More on that soon.

It is worth noting that we do encourage you to recycle your speed cards for tokens. Targeted rolls are a very good alternative to tune-up shops. Definitely worth buying out the parts from the tune-up shop and recycling them.

Previous Changes

  • Decreased the time it takes for new parts to appear in Tune-Up shops, down from 30mins to 10mins.
  • Increased rate in which parts are rewarded within Ranked Speedlists.

As always, keep the feedback coming. Have a great weekend and we'll see you in Fortune Valley.

Heroes of the Storm MMR Changes on PTR

Blizzard announces an update to the Heroes of the Storm PTR to test a bunch of the upcoming changes for their MOBA that they announced at BlizzCon. This includes their new performance based matchmaking system, and they offer a new update explaining more of how this works and why they are making the change. Here's a bit:
Once we introduce performance-based matchmaking in the near future, our system will look at how well the individuals in a match are performing and use this to aid in calculating their MMR adjustments for the match. The system will apply context to these stats by looking at the Hero you’re playing, the Battleground you’re on, the game mode, and what region you’re playing in so it can make fair comparisons against other similarly skilled players under the same conditions. Our goal with this system is not to define a specific playstyle for each hero, since we are never manually setting which stats are considered important, but rather to let our machine-learning driven system define importance and weighting for stats based on millions of games of data. By looking at these stats across the entire player base, the system can see which stats are most important for effective play and create a data-driven model of what the most highly-skilled players are doing in any given situation.

What differentiates a highly skilled player on a given Hero isn’t always obvious, though. For example:

  • When looking at a Hero like Illidan, it’s pretty straight forward. A good Illidan does a fair amount of damage, soaks a lot of experience, doesn’t die very often, and captures a lot of Mercenary camps. Illidan has a fairly high skill ceiling, though, so we expect there to be a sizeable difference in all of those stats between a highly-skilled Illidan and an average one.
  • However, for a hero like Kerrigan, the difference in raw stats like damage and experience between a high skill and average skill player isn’t quite as dramatic. Instead, the biggest thing that sets apart a highly skilled Kerrigan is how effective they are in landing crowd control effects, so the system would put a larger emphasis on this stat for Kerrigan players. She’s still being evaluated on all the same stats as every other hero, though, so a Kerrigan who spends the game only attempting to land stuns would not necessarily gain the same amount of MMR, as they would need to also contribute to the game in a meaningful way on top of landing lots of CC.

The system can then use an individual player’s performance to adjust how much MMR the player gains, or loses, for a game. If they’re performing beyond expectations for their current MMR, the system will grant more MMR when they win, subtract less when they lose, and they’ll more quickly arrive at the proper MMR for their skill. The opposite is also true if they’re not performing up to expectations.

Evening Interviews

Unlock All Star Wars Battlefront II Characters in 24 Hours

A thread on reddit discusses the latest changes to progression in Star Wars Battlefront II, which has been the subject of quite a bit of controversy over a grind-heavy design and concerns about pay-to-win priorities (thanks GameWatcher). According to the thread, the latest adjustments make it possible to unlock all the characters in the Star Wars action sequel in about 24 hours of play, though there are also warnings that doing so would not be the best use of one's credits, as it will make it harder to level up if you choose to buy nothing but characters.

Rainbow Six Siege Year Three Details

UbiBlog has details on what to expect from year three of Rainbow Six Siege, their tactical first-person shooter. They illustrate the post with a roadmap image along with this trailer with White Noise Operators gameplay and starter tips. Here's the plan:
The Rainbow Six Siege development team has announced Year 3 content and support from the Pro League Finals in Brazil. Here’s what’s been revealed so far (click to enlarge):

  • Eight new operators
  • Two brand new maps set in Italy and Morocco
  • One map makeover with a new level design and art direction

Year 3 will kick off with Operation Chimera. This season’s two operators are specialists in biohazard situations, on top of being playable in adversarial multiplayer, and during four weeks they will have to face a major threat in what will be the game’s first co-op event ever, named Outbreak. This event will be playable during four weeks for free for Rainbow Six Siege owners. It will also feature an exclusive collection of cosmetics, available only during the time of the event.

The full reveal of Operation Chimera and Outbreak will take place in Montreal at the Six Invitational 2018. More information on Year 3 will be coming soon.

Continue here to read the full story.

PlanetSide 2 Celebrates Fifth Anniversary With a Patch

The PlanetSide 2 Forums celebrate the fifth anniversary of PlanetSide 2, the multiplayer shooter sequel which launched on this day in 2012 (thanks Dave). There is a new patch with user-interface and quality-of-life improvements, and they are now offering sales of three different anniversary bundles with all sorts of in-game gear. They are also offering double experience until Friday. Here's a bit:
On November 20, PlanetSide 2 celebrates its fifth anniversary as the world’s most massively multiplayer online first person shooter. From launch to now, our players have played for more than 211,215,456 hours combined, that’s 24,111 years’ worth of combat on the vast, battle-scarred planet of Auraxis.

To commemorate the occasion, any player can redeem the code “5YearsPS2” in the Depot and receive a free fifth anniversary decal! Double Experience will also be running from Nov. 17 to Nov. 24. (Members will receive quadruple experience on Friday, Nov. 24!)

U.K. Sales Charts

GFK Chart-Track announces their sales charts tracking game sales in the U.K. for the week ending November 18th. Word is: "Activision Blizzard’s ‘Call of Duty: WWII’ retains the No1 spot for a third week since launch, narrowly holding off EA’s ‘Star Wars Battlefront II’ which launched on Tuesday and Friday this week for PS4, Xbox One and PC." There are six new entries in the top 10 on their all-platforms top 40 chart, while Star Wars Battlefront II is the new debut on the top 10 of the PC top 30 chart. Here's that top 10:

LW TW Title Developer Label Publisher
1 - 1 FOOTBALL MANAGER 2018 SPORTS INTERACTIVE SEGA SEGA
2 - 2 THE SIMS 4: CATS & DOGS THE SIMS STUDIO EA GAMES ELECTRONIC ARTS
- * 3 STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT II DIGITAL ILLUSIONS EA GAMES ELECTRONIC ARTS
3 ˅ 4 THE SIMS 4 THE SIMS STUDIO EA GAMES ELECTRONIC ARTS
8 ˄ 5 OVERWATCH GAME OF THE YEAR EDITION BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT BLIZZARD ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
4 ˅ 6 CALL OF DUTY: WWII SLEDGEHAMMER GAMES ACTIVISION ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
5 ˅ 7 WOLFENSTEIN II: THE NEW COLOSSUS MACHINEGAMES BETHESDA SOFTWORKS BETHESDA SOFTWORKS
6 ˅ 8 DESTINY 2 BUNGIE ACTIVISION ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
10 ˄ 9 MINECRAFT: STORY MODE - SEASON 2 TELLTALE GAMES TELLTALE GAMES TELLTALE GAMES
12 ˄ 10 THE SIMS 4 BUNDLE PACK 9 THE SIMS STUDIO EA GAMES ELECTRONIC ARTS

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

At times, the sentiment behind the R.I.P. notations that occasionally (or these days seemingly frequently) appear here has been called into question, since saying Rest In Peace (or Requiescat In Pace) about arguably (or unarguably) evil people seems an unwarranted kindness. Besides how believers will tell you that judging these things is the sole province of the almighty, some of those involved in these discussions have correctly surmised that this is not actually an endorsement of the individual in question. It's just a shorthand introduction to the news of the person's death and their obituary, as opposed to saying something like "he's dead Jim." Please know that this is never meant as an endorsement or a way of overlooking wrongdoing. I'm not sure why I chose today to explain that today, I guess it's just one of those helter skelter thoughts that popped into my mind.

R.I.P.: Charles Manson, leader of murderous cult, dead at 83.

Living Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Crazy Pixel Apocalypse.
Story: Can Gory Police Dog Arrests Survive The Age Of Video? Thanks RedEye9.
Science: Here's How To Take A Blood Pressure Reading The Right Way.
Media: A Wrinkle in Time Official US Trailer. Thanks Gizmodo and Neutronbeam.
Satellite Captures 2017 Hurricane season.
Shapeshifting Deepstaria Jelly - Nautilus Live.
Follow-up: Six Years After Fukushima, Robots Finally Find Its Reactors' Melted Uranium Fuel.
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