Archived News:

Tuesday, Dec 04, 2018

Just Cause 4 Released

Steam News announces that Just Cause 4 is now available for Windows, continuing this open-world action series from Avalanche Studios. Here's the official launch trailer showing how this continues the unpredictable gameplay that's a signature of the franchise. This page can direct you to the various editions they offer, and here is the elevator pitch:
The wait is over and Just Cause 4 is now available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The vast South American open world of Solís is now waiting for you. Take advantage of Rico’s unique set of weapons and gadgets, and fight your enemies in extreme weather conditions. It’s time to bring the thunder!
Continue here to read the full story.

The Elder Scrolls Online Free Play Event This Week

The Elder Scrolls Online Website announces the chance to play this MMORPG for free for nearly a week starting Thursday. Here's word:
During the Free Play Event, you’ll get access to ESO’s base game and Morrowind DLC, allowing you to explore a massive world filled with beauty and adventure as you fight to restore the demi-god Vivec’s lost powers and reclaim your stolen soul from the Daedric Prince Molag Bal. In addition to this, ESO’s base game also includes access to Cyrodiil, a massive open-world PvP zone, and the Battlegrounds, a fast-paced 4v4v4 PvP arena. Even if you already own ESO but never acquired the Morrowind DLC or Chapter, you’ll be able to travel to Vvardenfell and experience the home of the Dark Elves during the event period.

All new ESO accounts receive 500 free crowns for use in the in-game Crown Store, allowing you to pick up some useful items that include XP Scrolls, consumables, or even collectibles. Any characters and progression earned from previous trial events will remain, and if you decide to buy ESO after the event, you’ll be able to continue your adventures without interruption.

Battlefield V Tides of War Chapter 1: Overture Delay

EA announces via Twitter that the Battlefield V Tides of War Chapter 1: Overture update is confirmed for release in the wee hours tomorrow. They apologize for the delay, and thank everyone for their patience in this forum post, which includes a release schedule showing the PC version is coming at 4:00 am EST. Words is there will be a livestream with DICE about this tomorrow: "Please join us tomorrow as we sit down with our DICE Developers to answer outstanding questions around the Chapter 1: Overture Update in a Reddit AMAA (Ask Me Almost Anything) on the Battlefield V subreddit at 10a PT / 1p ET / 7p CET." They also offer 16 pages of patch notes on what to expect from this new content for the World War II shooter. Here's the intro:
Kicking off the first Chapter of Tides of War, this update adds a new War Story titled The Last Tiger, a brand new multiplayer map called Panzerstorm, and a Practice Range where you can hone your skills – and more.

We’ve also made several changes based upon the feedback from the Battlefield community as well as fixing many of the issues that you have reported. This document will go through the most noteworthy changes.

Dragon Age Return May Take Ages

Though BioWare recently teased Dragon Age announcements in 2019, VentureBeat reports a new installment in the RPG series is at least three years away. This is not confirmed, and they say EA declined their request for comment, but here's what they say they year from "sources familiar with the studio":
Dragon Age 4 — or whatever name it’ll carry — is at least three years away, according to sources familiar with the studio. That timeline could change, but that is the current expectation at EA. BioWare and EA have not even settled on a name for the new Dragon Age — although that is something they could decide in preparation for a reveal at The Game Awards.

And this is not new for Dragon Age. The game has spent more than a year in limbo at EA.

In January, I reported that BioWare pushed aside Dragon Age to focus on Anthem. The studio started pre-production on a new Dragon Age, but EA threw out most of that work. At that time, the publisher was shifting its games to live services. That Dragon Age project wasn’t going to fit into that business model. As a result of that reboot, Dragon Age writer Mike Laidlaw — who had an outline prepared for the new game — left BioWare.

Following those events, the developer has not put a substantial amount of work into a new Dragon Age. BioWare needs a hit, so the entire studio is putting its efforts into ensuring a successful launch for Anthem.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey - Hunted Released

Ubisoft announces the release of Hunted, episode one of Legacy of the First Blade, which adds new characters and a new skill to Assassin's Creed Odyssey. A look at the new content this brings is found in this trailer, and here's the pitch:
Today, Ubisoft announced that the first episode, Hunted, in the new post-launch story arc for Assassin’s Creed® Odyssey, Legacy of the First Blade, is now available.

Hunted introduces new elements and features to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, beginning a new epic story where our hero encounters Darius, the first user of the iconic Assassin’s Hidden Blade. A legend from Assassin’s Creed lore whose tomb appeared in Assassin’s Creed® II, players will find out if Darius is friend or foe and learn about a new enemy, the Order of the Ancients.

Each of the three episodes of Legacy of the First Blade will feature a new ability linked to each branch of the skill tree, Hunter, Warrior and Assassin. In Hunted, players will discover Death Veil, a new Assassin Ability where bodies of assassinated enemies will immediately disappear, making this new ability perfect for stealth. In addition, new legendary gear and weapons will be available.

To access Hunted players must have completed the Naxos questline in Episode 7 of the main story of the game and reached character level 28 or above.
Continue here to read the full story.

Overwatch Winter Wonderland Begins Next Week

A tweet from Overwatch reveals that the Overwatch Winter Wonderland event returns December 11th and will run until January 2nd. There are no details on how the season will be celebrated this year in the first-person shooter, but they do say it will allow you to "Snow off your holiday spirit!" See what they did there?

Destiny 2: Forsaken Black Armory Opens

Bungie, Activision, and Vicarious Visions announce the Black Armory expansion is now available for Destiny 2: Forsaken, offering new content for the first-person shooter sequel expansion. This kicks off the content for the Annual Pass for the game, which despite the "annual" in the title, spans the next nine months. Here are the details:
Bungie, Activision and Vicarious Visions deliver Destiny 2: Forsaken Annual Pass, providing players with new content that rolls out new experiences from December 2018 to August 2019. Expanding upon the endgame experience for players, the Destiny 2: Forsaken Annual Pass provides an additional layer of challenge and reward for the most dedicated players in the Destiny community. Three distinct seasons will support the Destiny 2 endgame for the annual pass, each with their own evolutions to the player experience.

Expanding on Destiny 2: Forsaken, the most transformative moment in Destiny history, Annual Pass and Black Armory kick off a new approach to content delivery, creating a world that is constantly changing and evolving as updates continue to unfold. Week one grants Guardians access to the Volundr Forge, a brand-new cooperative activity that will enable players to create and claim new weapons. Week 1 of Black Armory also features a new raid experience in a new setting.
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Rainbow Six Siege Wind Bastion Blows In

Ubisoft announces Operation Wind Bastion is now underway in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, kicking off the fourth and last season of Year 3 in this tactical first-person shooter. This includes a new fortress map and game improvements now available to all players along with a way to build the prize pool for the upcoming Six Invitational. It also includes two new Moroccan operators that Year 3 Pass owners can play right now, and other players will be able to purchase next week. Here's a recent video showing off the new content, and here are the details:
New Content of Year 3 Season 4 Available Today
In Operation Wind Bastion, players will meet two new Operators:

  • Nomad, a Moroccan Attacker, packs quite a punch thanks to her Airjab launcher. Airjabs are sticky, proximity-triggered air blast grenades that allow Nomad to shove Operators back and throw them to the ground.
  • Kaid is a Moroccan Defender that serves as a powerful counter to hard breachers. Kaid uses his Rtila electroclaw to electrify all metallic objects in proximity: reinforced walls, barbed wire, deployable shields.

In addition, players will discover the Moroccan mountains in the new Fortress map, which functions as both a military training facility and Kaid’s home. Inspired by the iconic architecture from the southern region of Morocco, Fortress features solid rotation between floors, an accessible roof, and many dangerous lines of sight and flanking routes.

Continue here to read the full story.

Star Control: Origins - Earth Rising Part One Next Week

Stardock announces Star Control: Origins - Earth Rising, a new four-part expansion for Star Control: Origins, the recent addition to the classic space strategy series. This kicks off one week from today with the release of part one, which adds "dozens of missions, new alien races, and a variety of ships." Subsequent chapters will come one per quarter, so part four is expected by summer. Here's word on the add-on, where you play the game's version of Zefram Cochrane:
As Captain of Earth's first interstellar starship, your primary mission is to ensure the safety of Earth from hostile alien forces through a combination of diplomacy and combat skill, while acquiring the materials and technologies Earth needs to begin growing beyond its home solar system.

In the first part, Aftermath, players discover that not every alien is happy about the prospect of an expanding human empire. There are unknown enemies lurking in the shadows seeking to undermine Earth's ambitions, while others begin to react to the recent successes of the Earth captain and his primitive ship.

While the expansion adds a great deal of content for those who have already completed the major events of Star Control: Origins, much of the new content greatly expands the richness of the Star Control universe for first-time players, including many new side-quests, new alien species, and new ships to recruit.

Steam Link Beta for Raspberry Pi

Though recent indications suggest Valve's Steam Link hardware is discontinued, Valve announces a beta version of the Steam Link software is now available for Raspberry Pi for those who want to build their own box to stream Steam games to their televisions (thanks Polygon). Here's word:
The Steam Link app is now available in beta on the Raspberry Pi 3 and 3 B+ running Raspbian Stretch

To install, run the following from a command line:
curl -#Of
sudo dpkg -i steamlink_1.0.4_armhf.deb

To run, you can launch it from the Games menu, or run the following from a command line:

The first time you run it, it will download the full app and create a desktop shortcut, and automatically update as needed.

Please report any bugs and feedback on the Raspberry Pi discussion forum.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: The Deadly Logistics of Climbing Everest. Mountain climbing is something I am fascinated with, in spite of zero desire to do it.

Epic's Online Store To Undercut Steam Royalties

Epic Games announces plans to launch their own online store as a direct competitor to Steam and similar services. Valve recently announced an increased split for best-selling games, which prompted some outcry from smaller developers. It's not clear if Epic's news is a direct response to that, but at the heart of the announcement is word that 88% of sales will go to developers, and they offer a comparison chart showing how generous this is compared with Steam splits. Here's word:
As developers ourselves, we wanted two things: a store with fair economics, and a direct relationship with players. And we've heard that many of you want this too!

Soon we'll launch the Epic Games store, and begin a long journey to advance the cause of all developers. The store will launch with a hand-curated set of games on PC and Mac, then it will open up more broadly to other games and to Android and other open platforms throughout 2019.

The Epic Games store will operate on the following principles:

All Developers Earn 88%
Developers receive 88% of revenue. There are no tiers or thresholds. Epic takes 12%. And if you’re using Unreal Engine, Epic will cover the 5% engine royalty for sales on the Epic Games store, out of Epic’s 12%.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden Released

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden (Yeah Brother) is now available for Windows on Steam, offering a strategic RPG with story, exploration, stealth, and turn-based combat inspired by XCOM. There is a Standard Edition and a Deluxe Edition, and the Deluxe Edition Content is also available separately for those who decide they want it down the road (you know, to Eden). The launch trailer shows off some of the anthropomorphic cast of the game, and the announcement has all the details you could ask for:
Publisher Funcom and the developers at The Bearded Ladies are thrilled to announce that Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden today released onto PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The game is also available to all Xbox Game Pass subscribers starting today. Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a tactical adventure game featuring a cast of unlikely, anthropomorphic characters such as Bormin and Dux, the badass boar and waterfowl that is synonymous with the game thanks to the cinematic reveal trailer.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden combines XCOM-like tactical, turn-based combat with real-time stealth and exploration of a post-human Earth. It is developed by The Bearded Ladies, a team made up of former HITMAN and PAYDAY developers among others. The game is part of a broader Mutant IP which includes the 80’s pen and paper RPG Mutant that has a loyal following across the world and is frequently seeing new releases. The game has received several “Best of Show” awards at both E3 and GamesCom.
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Insurgency: Sandstorm Open Beta This Weekend

With the PC edition of Insurgency: Sandstorm expected on December 12th, Focus Home Interactive announces a weekend-long open beta test will commence on Friday for this first-person shooter sequel. Word is this will be accompanied by a "massive update" from its currently closed beta, and the news is illustrated by a new trailer with a gameplay overview. Here's word:
Insurgency: Sandstorm, the FPS sequel to indie smash-hit Insurgency, brings action-packed, nerve-wracking modern military combat to PC on December 12. Starting on Friday, December 7 and running through the weekend, an open beta period will invite everyone to try the game for free on Steam. To get potential players ready, the new Gameplay Overview Trailer commented by developers breaks down all the ways Insurgency: Sandstorm is unique, from the high lethality gunplay, to an atmospheric minimal HUD, to Commander-Observer tagteams calling in fire support, to the extensive character and weapon customization, to the very design of maps, modes, and even sound.

New World Interactive’s lead game designer Michael Tsarouhas narrates the action, explaining every movement, explosion, and pull of the trigger. Across eight minutes of gameplay footage he explains how New World Interactive combined the best of shooter fundamentals with a realistic approach to ballistics, equipment, and other gameplay factors, creating an incredible FPS experience. Everything you see - from weapons to vehicles to maps and modes - will be available in the Open Beta for everyone.

New World Interactive are currently putting the finishing touches on a massive update to deploy when the Open Beta starts, representing a big content upgrade on the current Closed Beta offering. This includes the full map pool, character improvements including new voice lines, an optimization pass, and much more.
Continue here to read the full story.

LEGO DC Super-Villains Aquaman Movie Part 1 Released

The new Aquaman Movie Part 1 pack is now available as promised for LEGO DC Super-Villains, adding a tie-in with the DC Comics movie to the block-buster action game. A new trailer celebrates the release, and it comes with details on this pack, the next one, and the Season Pass that includes both, and more:
Today, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment unveiled a brand new trailer for the LEGO DC Super-Villains Aquaman Movie DLC content in celebration of the launch of the first downloadable pack: Aquaman Movie Part 1. Featuring Jason Momoa, star of the anticipated upcoming film Aquaman, the trailer gives fans their first look at Aquaman in action as he takes on villains Orm and Black Manta.

For Season Pass holders, Aquaman Movie Part 1 is available starting today and Aquaman Movie Part 2 will be available on January 8, 2019. The Season Pass, which adds six level packs and four character packs, is included in the LEGO DC Super-Villains Deluxe Edition or can be purchased separately for $14.99. For players that want to purchase the Aquaman movie packs à la carte, they can be purchased together in a bundle for $5.99 on January 8, 2019.
Continue here to read the full story.

Total War: THREE KINGDOMS Trailer

Creative Assembly offers a new cinematic trailer from Total War: THREE KINGDOMS their upcoming fantasy strategy game. They are celebrating brisk preorders on Steam, saying it is "so far the fastest selling pre-order for a Total War game in the history of the franchise." The clip introduces a new character, "the fierce outlaw" Zheng Jiang. There's more on Zheng Jiang in this blog post, though they warn that details are subject to change. Here's a summary: "Dynasties and nobility mean nothing to Zheng Jiang, who sees her strength and merciless fury as a sign of her destiny. Raiding and pillaging in her pace, the bandit queen will not cease until she finally sees the institution she so despises burn to the ground." Continue here to read the full story.

Ancient Frontier: Steel Shadows Trailer

Ancient Frontier: Steel Shadows is expected to launch on Steam on December 11th, and Fair Weather Studios paves the way with the release trailer for this sci-fi RPG. Here's word:
Indie studio Fair Weather Studios have released the launch trailer for the upcoming sci-fi turn-based RPG epic Ancient Frontier: Steel Shadows. The two-man team have developed the new sci-fi franchise on Unity starting with last years original Ancient Frontier instalment.

Now players get to take a turn as an outlaw on the fringes of known space and build a pirate fleet. Glory, gunfire, and discovery await while players build their pirate fleet, hand pick crew members and overcome not only the enemy but the dangers of deep space flight.

The original Ancient Frontier placed players in command of a Federation fleet tasked with bring law and order to the fringes, now play the lawless, the free and become a leaf on the wind.
Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Mobilization

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

I'm going to post that Holiday help for Walter and family Fundraiser link again today to help our buddy Walter "2" Costinak. This has edged past its initial goal, but it would be great to see more support for his family's struggle. Walter was always very charitable with his time and talents in providing artwork for this site and many others with no compensation, so urging everyone who can afford a little generosity in return is the least I can do. Thanks for whatever help you can provide.

Links 2: Thanks Ant.
Stories: National Cookie Day: The best places to score free cookies.
Study shows how many commercials average NFL fan watches. Thanks Cutter.
Science: 'Cheating' gorillas show clever puzzle-solving.
Media: Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel - Trailer 2.
Real Science: Do Numbers On Toaster Dials Mean Minutes?
Woman returns to Japan to look for her childhood friend.
Follow-up: Cases of polio-like illness on the decline, CDC says. Thanks RedEye9.
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