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Friday, Feb 08, 2019

  

Anthem Launch Trailer

EA offers the launch trailer for Anthem, gearing up for the release of the mechanized action/RPG in two weeks. The description of the clip is especially brief: "Unleash your power as you suit up in one of four javelins and take on a world full of danger. Team up with friends to overcome the toughest challenges you can find." Continue here to read the full story.

Bannermen Beta Free Weekend

A free weekend is underway for Bannermen (or BANNERMEN) on Steam, offering the chance to play the prerelease beta of this real-time strategy game. As noted in the announcement on Steam, this requires neither keys nor signups. Here's word from Izzy Mandelbaum:

It's go time! From now on and until Monday afternoon (UTC time) the Bannermen beta is free to download and play on Steam. You do not need any keys, simply click to install! The beta contains singleplayer (tutorial, campaign sneak peek and AI skirmish) and multiplayer (match-making with ranks, as well as custom games).

Bannermen takes place in the realm of Valtoria, a low-fantasy medieval world ravaged by decades of war, starvation, and natural disasters. Players take on the role of Lord Berrian trying to recapture his kingdom’s former glory, finding and rallying bannermen to battle against a host of tribes and the dark Lord Karthor. By utilizing nature powers — a core feature of Bannermen — players can leverage natural phenomena such as lightning strikes to electrocute armies, take advantage of dust storms that limit vision to sneak past enemies, and much more. With a fully story-driven campaign, each mission contains varied gameplay and challenges designed to push the narrative forward. Bannermen also provides online multiplayer modes with matchmaking and ladders.

2018 Steam Awards Results

Steam offers the results of the 2018 Steam Awards. There's a 17 minute video if you want the full treatment, or you can peek below to cut to the chase:

  • Game of the Year: PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS
  • VR Game of the Year: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR
  • Labor of Love: Grand Theft Auto V
  • Best Developer: CD Projekt RED
  • Best Environment: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Better With Friends: Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege
  • Best Alternate History: Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
  • Most Fun With a Machine: Rocket League

World War Z Trailer

Saber Interactive offers a new trailer for World War Z, the upcoming movie tie-in game that probably seemed like a better idea before the recent news that the planned World War Z movie sequel halted preproduction. Here's word on the game, which is expected this year:

Saber Interactive has released a new trailer showing off the fast-paced and exciting gameplay of Players vs Players vs Zombies (PvPvZ) in World War Z, the highly anticipated game inspired by Paramount Pictures’ blockbuster action film. While World War Z’s core four-player co-op pits you against relentless swarms of AI zombies, PvPvZ offers a completely unique experience, challenging you to outlive both the living and the dead across a variety of competitive modes designed for 4v4 combat.

What separates PvPvE in World War Z from other multiplayer games is the zombie swarm, which storms the arena throughout the match, forcing players to battle both each other and the undead and allowing the tide of the fight to turn in an instant. World War Z will launch with the following multiplayer modes:

  • Scavenge Raid: players race to secure resources across the map to win
  • Vaccine Hunt: players must pick up and hold an object to earn point for the team.
  • Swarm Deathmatch: Two teams go head to head in a bitter fight to the end
  • Swarm Domination: Capture zones to earn points and win a team victory
  • King of the Hill: Capture a single hill, then control it to earn victory points

Powered by Saber’s dynamic Swarm Engine™, World War Z unleashes hundreds of fast-moving, bloodthirsty zombies at a time on players in a nail-biting action experience around the world, including New York, Moscow, Jerusalem and more. Play in co-op with up to 3 friends using six distinct classes and an arsenal of deadly weapons, explosives, turrets and traps to demolish the undead menace and survive another day.

Continue here to read the full story.

Macrotis: A Mother's Journey Released

Macrotis: A Mother's Journey is now available on Steam, offering a 2.5D platforming adventure for Windows. In this the player is a mother who is a bilby, which some quick research tells us is a macrotis, described as a "rabbit-bandicoot." Word is: "Follow the journey of a mother bilby as she attempts to reunite with her family, Macrotis takes players on an emotional and challenging adventure." This trailer shows off gameplay, and here's more on the game:

Set in a fantasy world devastated by a terrible hurricane, Macrotis presents players with thought-provoking puzzles of varying difficulties. Stopping at nothing to fulfill her quest to find her family, mother bilby uses both natural and magical abilities to overcome the dangers in her way. Players will utilize her bilby skills and even gain magical abilities such as astral projection as well as using water physics to solve the puzzles put in mother bilby’s path.

Macrotis features classic platformer level design and a fully-voiced, rich story and soundtrack. The world of Macrotis unfolds as players guide mother bilby through levels of enchanting scenery as she conquers various obstacles including the rampant and dangerous flooding that the hurricane has left in its wake.

Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

etc., etc.

Into the Black

GOD EATER 3 Released

GOD EATER 3 is now available for Windows on Steam, offering the newest installment in this action series based on the new big diet that will take over after the keto trend dies. Here's the announcement:

Leading video game publisher and developer BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. today released GOD EATER® 3 in the Americas for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and PCs via STEAM®. Team up with three friends to cooperatively tackle heart-pounding story missions as powerful God Eaters, humanity’s last hope against the relentless Aragami threat.

Take on the role of a God Eater, the last line of defense against the monstrous beings known as Aragami which have devastated the world. God Eaters are unique individuals with special abilities to wield powerful God Arc weaponry, the only known weapons that can destroy an Aragami. God Arc weapons come in a variety of melee and ranged types including swords, hammers, sickles, spears, shotguns, sniper rifles, and more. New to GOD EATER 3 are dual bladed and Heavy Moon weapons, each of which comes with unique transforming functions to extend their utility and provide additional attack options and damage. Players can determine which weapon works best for their playstyle and hone its intricacies when taking on missions in Story Mode or online with other GOD EATER 3 players.

GOD EATER 3 incorporates new combat mechanics and customization options to create dynamic fights that change the flow of battles. After devouring an enemy, players can activate Burst Arts which change all normal attacks into special attacks. Players can also choose between several Burst Arts, as well as the specific effects of the Burst Art, to suit their play style. In addition to Burst Arts, a new Dive ability increases the speed of combat by having players race headlong towards enemies for swift attacks, keeping constant pressure on the opposition.

Continue here to read the full story.

Pumped BMX Pro Released

Steam now offers the Windows edition of Pumped BMX Pro, offering a 20% launch discount on this stunt cycling game. A launch trailer shows the game in action. Here's the deal:

Calling all danger junkies and cycle-paths! Curve Digital is proud to announce that Pumped BMX Pro, the bigger, better, ragdoll-tastic sequel to Pumped BMX + is available now on PC, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Developed by one man studio Yeah Us! Games, the momentum-based BMX freestyler soars onto player’s systems with a tricked-out new look, improved physics, and an insane of roster of professional BMX stars.

Choose from 15 riders with pre-designed bikes, or come up with your own in the easy to use bike creator. Once you’re ready to hit the tracks, get creative with more than 40 trick options and combo your way through over 60 insane levels, maintaining your flow to ensure you reach the next obstacle wheels first instead of face first. For the best riders out there, there are over 200 challenges to beat. Have you got what it takes to go pro? High score chasers can compete on the global leaderboards, to see if they can thrash at the same level as the best riders in the world!

“Pumped BMX Pro is a rad new twist on the momentum-based biking formula,” said George Morgan, Product Manager at Curve Digital. “We can’t wait to see players can-can it down the slopes in pursuit of those sweet high-score combos. It’s definitely got that one-more-ride quality!”

“‘Pumped BMX Pro plays and looks great on PC, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch,” said Adam Hunt, Director of Yeah Us! Games. “Whether you’ve got hours to freestyle your way up the leaderboards or just five minutes, Pumped BMX Pro has that pick up and play magic. I think it’s the best entry in the series yet and I can’t wait for players to perfect those clean landings and insane stunts.”

Continue here to read the full story.

Warhammer: Chaosbane in June; Preorders Get Beta Access

Bigben and Eko Software announce a June 4th release date for Warhammer: Chaosbane, saying they are now accepting preorders of this Warhammer hack-and-slash game. They say that those who preorder any of the three editions of the game will gain access to an exclusive closed beta, and that those who pick out either of the two premium editions will also get four days of early access before the unwashed masses get in. There's more on this in this preorder trailer, and more still in the announcement:

Warhammer: Chaosbane will offer two beta phases starting in March. These will be accessible only to the players who have preordered the game. Aside from this exclusive access, they’ll receive an experience bonus active for the entirety of the character’s progression as well as a pack of 4 legendary crates.

The first beta phase will take place in March and the second in April. Players will have an exclusive opportunity to discover the beginning of the campaign and test the different classes and their synergy in cooperative mode. More precise information concerning the dates and the content of these phases will be provided at a later date.

Continue here to read the full story.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Specs & Story Trailer

A new trailer for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice previews the story in FromSoftware's upcoming action/adventure. Here's word on this clip from the description: "In the aftermath of a gruesome battle, the Owl finds a new apprentice." They offer this outline of the game: "Explore late 1500s Sengoku Japan, a brutal period of constant life and death conflict, as you come face-to-face with larger than life foes in a dark and twisted world. Unleash an arsenal of deadly prosthetic tools and powerful ninja abilities while you blend stealth, vertical traversal, and visceral head-to-head combat in a bloody confrontation." Also, VG247 notes that the game's Steam listing now includes the following system requirements:

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

MINIMUM:
OS:
Windows 7 64-bit | Windows 8 64-bit | Windows 10 64-bit
Processor: Intel Core i3-2100 | AMD FX-6300
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 | AMD Radeon HD 7950
DirectX: Version 11
Network: Broadband Internet connection
Storage: 25 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX 11 Compatible

RECOMMENDED:
OS:
Windows 7 64-bit | Windows 8 64-bit | Windows 10 64-bit
Processor: Intel Core i5-2500K | AMD Ryzen 5 1400
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 | AMD Radeon RX 570
DirectX: Version 11
Network: Broadband Internet connection
Storage: 25 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX 11 Compatible

Continue here to read the full story.

12th Total War: THREE KINGDOMS Faction Revealed

SEGA and Creative Assembly announce that Dong Zhuo will be a playable faction in Total War: THREE KINGDOMS, the next installment in their historical strategy series. The Dong Zhuo regime was presented as a central plot element when the game was announced, but now they say: "Dong Zhou will appear as a playable faction once you reach the rank of Duke in a campaign." They also illustrate the news with a new cinematic trailer. Here's word:

Through all of history, there are few tyrants as sinister as Dong Zhuo. Revealed today as a surprise 12th playable faction in Total War: THREE KINGDOMS, players will soon be able to conquer through cruelty, purging the lands of all who would defy his rule. Watch the latest cinematic trailer here: HERE

Greed drives the malevolent Dong Zhuo, and he'll let nothing stand in his way. Flanked by his adopted son Lü Bu, the greatest warrior in the land, no one can match their might and fury. By spreading fear and intimidation, those who oppose Dong Zhuo will soon bow down. Victory is nearly in his grasp!

Dong Zhou will appear as a playable faction once you reach the rank of Duke in a campaign.

The next historical title in the Total War™ strategy series will launch March 7th, 2019.

Continue here to read the full story.

Sigma Theory: Global Cold War in April

French developer Mi-Clos Studio announces an April 18th release date for Sigma Theory: Global Cold War, their turn-based spy simulation for Windows, macOS, and Linux. A private beta is currently underway, and anyone who preorders the game will get instant access along with a full copy on Steam come April. Word is: "Sigma Theory allows players to set up their own intelligence agency, recruit elite spies, and bribe, seduce and assassinate their way to world domination." Here's a release date trailer and here's the announcement:

In the turn-based single player Sigma Theory, the world is plunged into a new global cold war after the discovery of a groundbreaking scientific discovery that will radically change humanity’s destiny. Players take charge of their own agency - staffing it with their best, brightest and most ruthless - in order to get their chosen nation ahead in a deadly conflict that is fought in the shadows. Heavily inspired by real-life events; and shaped by the hands-on intelligence experience of the developers who previously created the award-winning Out There, Sigma Theory allows for a fascinating glimpse into a near-future that is closer to reality than many would think.

Not only the elite agents, but cutting-edge technology will also play an important role in Sigma Theory. From drone fleets to hacking, players will have to use all the tools at their disposal to eliminate hostile agents and to protect their own. Players will send their spies on a variety of missions across the globe: to gather intel, cooperate with armed groups, engage in high-level diplomacy, steal crucial tech, recruit new scientists or forcibly extract them if they refuse to go willingly. A mix of tactical and strategic turn-based gameplay, Sigma Theory’s dynamic story will change depending on the player’s choices, allowing for multiple distinct endings.

Continue here to read the full story.

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II Post-Launch Plans

Now that Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II has launched, publisher Focus Home Interactive and developer Tindalos Interactive unveil plans to support the space combat RTS sequel with updates and new content. They also offer a new accolade trailer with selected micro-quotes from reviews and previews of the game along with a splash page of review scores, 80% of which are 80%. This post on Steam has details on their plans, including instructions on how to access the next patch for the game before its final release. Here's a summary:

Over the past week, the first major update for the game was announced and released. This includes the usual balance and bug fixes alongside a brand new gamemode - Battlegroups. These battles allow for larger fleets in 2v2, making it a chaotic and powerful game mode of titanic proportions.

This is on top of longer-term plans announced that include the creation of an entire new grand campaign for the game, to be revealed at a later date. There will also be another new game mode that allows for humongous battles with incredible, legendary ships. In addition, competitive seasons, tournaments, and a new boarding system are on the way. Read all about it over on Steam. This was all possible thanks to the incredible dedication and support we received from fans of the game, and we’ll be continuing to improve Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II to serve them.

Continue here to read the full story.

A Plague Tale: Innocence Trailer

This video is the third of three "webisodes" for A Plague Tale: Innocence, the upcoming action/adventure set amidst the time of the black death. Come for the bubonic plague, but stay for the rats, and the clip focuses on the furry friends who help everybody along towards their fates. The narration in the video is French, but English subtitles are provided. Here's more:

A Plague Tale: Innocence - third and final episode of webseries exposes you to the deadly rat plague

Asobo Studio takes us one last time behind the scenes of A Plague Tale: Innocence, their new own-IP title scheduled for release on May 14 of this year. Once again, discover more about the forging of this incredible game by a no-less incredible team, with the webseries' third episode, Children of the Plague, available now.

With the first and second episodes introducing you to the characters and the unforgiving world they share, Children of the Plague focuses on their nemeses: the unnatural rat plague that swarms across medieval France and the Inquisition relentlessly hunting Hugo and his sister Amicia.

Death and disease follow in the wake of the plague rats, and not one person - clergy, persecutor, royalty, or peasant - is safe. While for Asobo rats were second to the main characters and the narrative focus, they became an integral part to the game’s structure and a core part of the experience, influencing every aspects of the design. The inquisition has begun to fight back, and their equipment is specific for stopping the plague, using light and armour to keep the rats at bay.

Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Patches

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Since I had chicken pox as a kid, a few months ago I got a shingles vaccine. This is one of those intramuscular dealies, and caused me a couple of days of significant soreness around the injection site. It's a two-part inoculation, and it's my understanding that many people skip the second shot after the discomfort of the first. Being made of sterner stuff than that, I subjected myself to my follow-up shot yesterday. The nurse warned me that this one might be worse than the first one, saying it may provoke a couple of days of mild flu-like symptoms. Sure enough I felt like hell this morning when I woke up, and I was concerned this would last all weekend. Thankfully, this passed after an hour or so, and I feel much better, though my arm is once again quite sore. I'm just over-sharing, as is my way, and I hope that I'm not discouraging anyone from getting these shots where appropriate. The new formulation of the vaccine is said to be far more effective in preventing shingles, which is good news, as everything I know about that condition suggests some discomfort is a small price to pay for preventing its misery.

R.I.P.: Albert Finney Dead: ‘Tom Jones’ Star Dies at 82.
R.I.P.: Former Rep. John Dingell, longest serving member of Congress, dies at 92.

Two-Shot Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: FireBoy and WaterGirl 5: Elements.
Link: My disabled son - ‘the nobleman, the philanderer, the detective’. Thanks A51Abductee.
Stories: A Florida politician allegedly made a habit of licking men’s faces. She has now resigned.
Science: Video games are unlocking the mysteries of the quantum world
Insulin 'Pill' Could Replace A Shot Someday, Researchers Say. Thanks RedEye9.
Media: Ryan Reynolds & Huge Jackman Agree To A Truce.
Surfer Dan Surfing Lake Superior.
Ocean Water Freezes as it Hits the Shore. Surfer Dan's next challenge.
Follow-up: Vaccinations jump 500% in antivax hotspot amid measles outbreak.
Washington State measles outbreak presents unique dangers. Thanks RedEye9.

Thursday, Feb 07, 2019

Apex Legends Boasts 10M Players; 1M Concurrent

A Message from Vince Zampella has word from the Respawn boss on how Apex Legends is performing like a boss since the launch of this battle royale Titanfall spinoff a few days ago. Word is that just 72 hours after the launch of the free-to-play game over 10 million players have played, and the game has peaked at over one million concurrent players:

In 72 hours, over 10 million players have jumped into Apex Legends and we’ve breached 1 million concurrent players!

This has been a truly incredible journey. We tested and tweaked. We argued and agreed. We got to a point where we felt some magic. We knew it would be risky to take the franchise in this direction, to go free to play, and do a surprise launch. But we fell in love with Apex Legends and wanted, needed, other people to play it too.

We hoped you’d love it as much as us, but never in our wildest dreams could we have expected the outpouring of support and positivity we’ve seen. From all of us at Respawn, thank you for giving us and Apex Legends a chance. Thank you for joining us on this journey. This is just the beginning! We have so much more in store for you this year.

Get Axiom Verge for Free

The latest freebie is now live on the Epic Games Store, as Axiom Verge is now available at a 100% discount. They also reveal their next freebie, saying they will offer free copies of Thimbleweed Park in two weeks. In the meantime, here's what to expect from Axiom Verge:

After a lab accident, a scientist awakens in a mysterious, alien world. Is this a distant planet? The far future? Or a complex virtual-reality computer simulation?

Plumb the recesses of a large, labyrinthine world in order to learn its secrets and uncover your role within it.

Discover tons of weapons, items, and abilities, each with their own unique behaviors and usage. You’ll need your wits to find them all.

Combat bizarre biomechanoid constructs, the deadly fallout of an ancient war, and the demons of your own psyche.

And finally, break the game itself by using glitches to corrupt foes and solve puzzles in the environment.

Life. Afterlife. Real. Virtual. Dream. Nightmare. It's a thin line.

It's Axiom Verge.

Created by Thomas Happ Games LLC

Worbital Demo

A playable demo for Worbital is now available on Steam, offering the chance to sample this Windows and macOS science fiction real-time strategy game. This offers the chance to compete online with owners of the full game, but demo players will have a limited arsenal at their disposal. This post has the details:

It’s almost a week since Worbital launched and, after some thinking, we decided to do a demo.
We now have a free online demo available on Steam, to help get more new players into the Worbital groove and to get more people into the online queues!

The demo includes the tutorial and online quickplay matches with default loadouts only. This means that demo players get to take part in online matches along with all the other players. The big difference is that demo-players get only a very limited selection of weapons. We hope that this prompts more people to go for the full Worbital experience. Hopefully, this will also bring a surge of new players to the quickplay queues.

Romans: Age of Caesar Announced

Firefly Studios announces Romans: Age of Caesar, a cooperative MMO city-building strategy game that they consider to be a spiritual successor to their Stronghold series. This will be released this year for PC and mobile, and closed alpha testing is already underway. They are accepting pre-registration for this test, and those interested in being invited when the time comes should sign up on the official website. An announcement trailer offers a look at what to expect, and there are more details in this announcement:

Following the success of Stronghold Kingdoms, with over six million players signing up to Firefly’s MMO debut, prototyping began on a spiritual successor that would become Romans: Age of Caesar. Building on their legacy of Roman sim games, Firefly went about designing an online city builder with thousands of players working together to rebuild the great cities of Rome. The result is a shared world builder that returns to the classic Roman setting designer Simon Bradbury and producer Eric Ouellette made their name with before founding Firefly Studios in 1999.

Offering classic city builder gameplay across on an online continent, Romans: Age of Caesar allows players to build and trade with everyone on the same map. With up to 16 players per city, governors must rebuild Rome as they share resources, re-establish trade routes and protect each other from barbarian invasion. Work with fellow governors to rebuild the great cities of Rome, revive the republic and restore the Roman Empire to its former glory!

Continue here to read the full story.

Steam Awards Tomorrow

Valve announces plans to broadcast the results of their 2018 Steam Awards tomorrow at 1:00 pm EST on SteamTV. Here's the plan:

At 10am Pacific on Friday, February 8th, the winners of the Steam Awards will be announced via broadcast at Steam.tv/SteamAwards. Throughout the 2018 Steam Winter Sale, millions of Steam users cast their votes in the third-annual Steam Awards. For the first time, the winners will be first revealed and heard from via a Steam broadcast. Meanwhile, the Steam Lunar New Year sale continues thru the weekend.

The Making Of Metro Exodus Episode Three

Deep Silver and 4A Games offer The Making Of Metro Exodus - Episode Three, the final episode of this three-part documentary series recapping development of the upcoming installment in the Metro series of first-person shooters. Word is this was filmed on location in Kiev and Malta at 4A Games' two studios as they worked to complete Metro Exodus. If you missed the prior installments, here is Episode One and here is Episode Two. Here's more on the conclusion:

Featuring interviews with key personnel at 4A Games, archive footage and photos, and never-seen-before materials from the 5 year development of Metro Exodus from the earliest concept stage, this series takes fans to the heart of the creative process behind 4A Games’ most ambitious project to date.

In Episode Three, 4A Games reflect on their experience of seeing all the constituent parts of Metro Exodus finally piece together, and the comradery that comes from completing such a vast project as a team. We also hear from 4A Games’ Creative Director Andrew ‘Prof’ Prokhorov, speaking with pride for his ‘Spartans’ as they worked to complete the game without him during his recovery from the stroke he suffered during the final months of development.

Continue here to read the full story.

Hazardous Space Takes Off

Hazardous Space has taken off out of Early Access, and is now officially available on Steam. This us a Roguelike 2D action/adventure set in space, where no one can hear you ask, "isn't all space hazardous?" This post covers all the changes in version 1.0 for those who played the game in Early Access, and here is a new trailer to show off gameplay. Word is: "Hazardous Space is a 2D survival game with RPG elements in the best traditions of roguelike games. The protagonist, a former military man, fights his way through hordes of zombies on a space station to find the exit. Tactics, dozens of weapons and combat skills will come in handy. Turn-based combat, powering up and the feeling of looming threat await!" Here's a bit more:

The story unravels on a giant spaceship which was exploring deep space, but at one moment everything changed. The player must find out what happened and flee the station as soon as they can. Quest items, extra tasks and notes offer a compelling and dangerous investigations in different parts of the station.

Hazardous Space is full of turn-based tactical battles with a huge amount of weapon types. Start the game with a simple shiv or a pistol, and later get your hands on a Gatling laser cannon or a rocket hammer. The player can craft anything they need from spare parts and blueprints. Weapons, ammo, medkits, batteries - everything can be created using special workbenches scattered around Wanderer station.

Continue here to read the full story.

Galactic Civilizations III: Retribution This Month

Stardock announces the Retribution expansion for Galactic Civilizations III will be released in two weeks on February 21st, offering new content for their 4X space strategy game. They celebrate the news with a new trailer with a cinematic look at the add-on. Here's more on what to expect:

Start with a single world and expand across the galaxy through diplomacy, trade, cultural hegemony, or military conquest in this single or multiplayer 4X strategy game. How will you rule your galaxy?

The new features in Galactic Civilizations III: Retribution include:

  • Artifacts - Powerful items buried on planets across the galaxy will give your civilization instant-access to new abilities.
  • Hypergates - Construct powerful gateways that, when linked, allow your fleets to travel rapidly across hyperspace.
  • Major Civilizations: Drath and Korath - The manipulative Drath pull the strings across the galaxy while the Korath rely on extermination. Each has its own set of special abilities, bonuses, and ship parts.
  • Supply ships - Supply ships can be constructed to deliver goods and services to your other planets to aid in their development.
  • New Technology Trees - A top to bottom overhaul of the technology tree adds depth and sharpens the strategic choices in your research options.
  • Retribution Campaign - The malevolent Drengin Empire made a terrible mistake underestimating humanity’s strength, and the climactic battle that will follow may end in their extinction.

Continue here to read the full story.

Battlerite Getting Free and Premium Battle Passes

Stunlock Studios announces plans for a Battle Pass for the Battlerite franchise that will launch on February 19th alongside the release of Battlerite Royale. All players will get a free Battle Pass, but there is also a way to upgrade to a premium version. Here's how that will work:

Today Stunlock Studios announced adding the BATTLE PASS as part of a major update for the whole franchise together with the free-to-play launch of Battlerite Royale, scheduled for February 19th. All players will have access to the Free Battle Pass, which they will be able to upgrade to the Premium Battle Pass for more game content and other perks.

Premium Pass owners can earn Battle Stars to level up their Battle Pass, unlocking new cosmetic rewards including pets, emotes, weapons, outfits, experience boosts, avatars, sponsor-gated content and more. The Premium Pass upgrade will cost 950 in-game currency Gems / Diamonds or $9,49, if purchased through XSOLLA’s marketplace. The Free Battle Pass containing less rewards will also be available whether or not players upgrade to the Premium version and will include Season content. Connecting both games, the Battle Pass preserves progress so players can switch back and forth between the two titles. Alongside the Battle Pass comes a revamped Season system kicking off with “Battle Season 1”, which will reset seasons in Battlerite as well as leaderboards in Battlerite Royale and run for about ten weeks.

Read more about the Battle Pass and the rewards at: https://www.battlerite.com/battlepass

Hearts of Iron IV Man the Guns This Month

Paradox Interactive announces a February 28th release date for Man the Guns, a naval add-on for Hearts of Iron IV, their World War II strategy sequel. This is available for preorder from their store and other online retailers, and they offer this trailer to celebrate the news, since only closers get coffee. The feature list shows the imagination required to revisit the same historical era so often, as the game includes the chance to play as Netherlands, Mexico, and a revived Confederacy. Here's word:

Features of Hearts of Iron IV: Man the Guns include:

  • Major Alternate Paths: Revive the Old Confederacy as the United States and provoke a new civil war, or hasten decolonization of the British Empire.
  • Ship Design: Research new components and refit older vessels to take advantage of new knowledge. Outfit your submarines with snorkels or improved stealth.
  • Admiral Traits and Skills - Tailor and level up your Admirals with new traits and skills.
  • Governments in Exile: Welcome a government in exile to your democracy, boosting their legitimacy in return for more manpower and elite troops fighting to free their homeland.
  • Other National Focuses: New national focuses for The Netherlands and Mexico.
  • Naval Mines: Protect your coasts from invasion or assault with anti-ship mines, or clear a path through enemy mines before you make the big push.
  • Shipping route controls - plot new routes for your shipping and navies by marking areas you want to avoid.
  • Naval Treaties: Struggle to keep the peace by following internationally agreed upon rules, or creatively defy the world consensus by exceeding your limits.
  • Amphibious Landing Vehicles: Add power to your beach landing by researching and producing specialized combat vehicles for your marines.
  • New Music: Original music composed specifically for the Man the Guns expansion.

Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Patches

Op Ed

Polygon: Fallout 76 is in a bad place, and Bethesda may not be able to fix it. Thanks RedEye9.
"I want to love Fallout 76, because I think it’s built on strong ideas. But Bethesda has followed a rough launch with three full months of controversy, server issues, lost progress, and anger. So much has gone wrong that it’s incredibly difficult to fix one thing without inadvertently hurting something else. It’s going to take a monstrous amount of work for Bethesda to fix the issues while also reaching out to players, begging that they stay involved in the game.

The question remains: Is that even possible?"

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

AMD Radeon VII Reviews

Chernobylite Announced

The Farm 51 announces Chernobylite, a science-fiction survival/horror "experience" that draw players back into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone for more fun and games. This Unreal-engine game is targeting both PCs and consoles, but it does not yet carry a release date. The announcement trailer offers a look at some irradiated environments and hints of gameplay. Here's word:

Chernobylite is a science-fiction survival horror experience from the team behind the critically acclaimed Get Even. The game mixes the free exploration of its disturbing world with challenging combat, unique crafting, and non-linear storytelling. This exceptional title will constantly challenge you to:

SURVIVE
Ally or compete with other stalkers of the Chernobyl zone to survive. Remember that life is fragile, and it is your decisions that determine the fate of your companions. You can spend as long as you need preparing; however, be aware that your story is still being written. Every passing moment your chances of success are dwindling, comrades are dying, supplies are running out, or an unexpected patrol could discover you. On top of this, supernatural dangers are arising around you in mysterious patterns. Each day brings new challenges, adding to the ever-increasing severity of your current situation. Plan your strategy carefully if you want to survive.

PLAY BY YOUR OWN RULES
Craft your gear and weapons to protect yourself from the hostile military personnel and supernatural threats lurking in the zone. Make use of the sophisticated tools at your disposal to aid you in your struggle while navigating the rough and contaminated environment. Stay undetected and gather all the evidence you can in order to piece together events from the past.

Decide what happens in the world around you by making choices and finding or avoiding the truth.

EXPERIENCE
Maintain your resolve and keep your wits about you; the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is not what it once was. None can foresee the horrors that may have befallen your beloved.

CHERNOBYLITE MAIN FEATURES:

  • Explore the beautiful and horrifyingly accurate 3D-scanned recreation of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone;
  • Collaborate or compete with other stalkers of the Zone. But whatever you do, never fully trust them. Remember everybody has a hidden agenda. Always;
  • Face and survive the natural and supernatural threats;
  • Immerse yourself in the non-linear, thrilling, science-fiction horror story;
  • Make good use of your physics and chemistry knowledge to craft your equipment and manage your supplies;
  • Fight against the savage creatures pouring out from an alternate reality;
  • Investigate and collect data with a set of sophisticated environment and substance-analyzing tools.

Continue here to read the full story.

The Elder Scrolls Online Offers ESO Plus Free Trial

The Elder Scrolls Online Website announces a free trial is underway to demonstrate the benefits of an ESO Plus membership. Here's what this includes:

Check out ESO Plus membership for yourself during our free trial event – no strings attached!

TRY OUT ESO PLUS FOR YOURSELF
The ESO Plus Free Trial begins on Thursday, February 7 at 10:00AM EST and will run until Tuesday, February 12 at 10:00AM EST. Throughout the trial period, you can enjoy the following ESO Plus membership benefits, completely free:

  • Full access to DLC game packs – new zones, quests, dungeons, and more
    • Includes the Imperial City, Orsinium, Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, Shadows of the Hist, Horns of the Reach, Clockwork City, Dragon Bones, Morrowind (zone and story), Wolfhunter, and Murkmire
  • A Craft Bag offering you unlimited storage for all of your crafting materials
  • Double Bank space for all the characters on your account
  • 10% increase to Experience and Gold acquisition, Crafting Inspiration, and Trait Research rates
  • Double Furnishings and Collectibles space in player housing
  • Exclusive ability to dye costumes
  • Double Transmute Crystal storage

If you don’t have access to the zone to participate in the recently announced Morrowind Celebration Event, you’ll get free access to it during the ESO Plus trial period.

Note that the monthly crown stipend and ESO Plus deals are only available to fully paid members. You can check out everything that comes with ESO Plus on our website.

The Division 2 Private Beta Crash Workarounds

The Division 2 Private Beta is now underway for preorder customers, and others interested in checking out the online action/RPG sequel can apply on the official website. A post from Ubisoft lists known issues with the beta (thanks Eurogamer). This includes a warning that the client may crash after "an extended gameplay session," and they recommend rebooting every two or three hours, so this sounds like a memory leak. There's also a warning that game invites can also cause crashes. Here's word:

During the Private Beta, we will be fully testing Tom Clancy's The Division 2 together with you and we cannot wait to hear what you think about it. To ensure the smoothest game experience, we will be publishing a list of Known Issues on the forums that we are aware of and working on fixing. There are two important ones that we want to raise before the Beta itself starts. These are high priority issues for us that will be fixed, but are present in the Beta.

We are aware of an issue where your game client will crash after an extended gameplay session. To circumvent this, we recommend that you restart your game client every two to three hours.

Secondly, on all platforms, if you are outside the game and receive a game invite from a friend within the game, your client will crash at launch. To work around this problem, make sure to start the game first and join group directly from inside the game.

We hope ( and we will do our best to make sure) you will have a great time in the Private Beta of Tom Clancy's The Division 2 and we're looking forward to playing with you all in Washington, D.C. this weekend!

Dollhouse Story Trailer

A new trailer for Dollhouse sets up the story for this film noir-inspired psychological horror game that's coming to Steam and PlayStation 4 later this year. Word is: "Today SOEDESCO and Creazn Studio have unveiled a brand new story trailer for the psychological horror game Dollhouse, which shows a glimpse of the intricate and unnerving storyline of the game." Here's more on that story:

The story of Marie
Welcome to the twisted world of Dollhouse. In the singleplayer story mode, players assume the identity of the mysterious Marie. Once she was known as “The Greatest Detective in the World”, but now she is suffering from amnesia and desperately trying to get her memories back. All she remembers is that on a catastrophic night, her daughter Emily has died.

Marie is trapped inside the sinister Dollhouse, where the doors are locked, clocks stopped, and journals hidden. To escape, she has to sift through the ashes of reality to recover the charred remains of her memories and find out what happened to Emily. She has to be wary though, because something disturbing and dark is watching her from the shadows. Conflicted by the different personas in her mind, every decision she makes is essential to survival.

Dollhouse Features:

  • Escape your pursuer as you decipher the eerie story of your past in Singleplayer
  • Customize and upgrade your character with 40+ Abilities and Passives
  • Scan the environment and see through the eyes of your pursuer
  • Creep through procedurally generated maps. No restart is the same in any game mode
  • Murder wisely in competitive online Multiplayer where each player has a different target
  • Deepen your fears with 14 playable characters in Multiplayer, each with unique abilities

Continue here to read the full story.

Mortal Kombat 11 Kabal Trailer

This trailer from Mortal Kombat 11 officially reveals Kabal, another kombatant coming to the upcoming fighting game sequel (thanks Dark Horizons via Ant). The description of this is brief: "Resurrected as a twisted, evil version of himself, Kabal now serves the Netherrealm and pledges to destroy all other realms." Continue here to read the full story.

Spike Volleyball Released

Spike Volleyball is now available for Windows on Steam, offering what is described as the "first indoor volleyball simulation" (who knew?). That innovation aside, the reviews on this are not so bueno, so you'll probably want to look those over before jumping in to this. The game requires a controller to play, and publisher Bigben and developer Black Sheep Studio serve up this launch trailer to show off gameplay. Here's more on what to expect:

With the inclusion of the biggest countries and an innovative tactical gameplay, Spike Volleyball is the first simulation of one of the most widely-played sports in the world. Dynamic and demanding discipline, the game is faithful to every move, recreating a spectacular and sporty experience: spikes, blocks, floaters…

Learn the techniques, use cunning combinations to surprise your opponents and lead your team to victory through the different international tournaments. Tactics, reflexes and accuracy will take you to the top of the world championship podium!

Key features:

  • 50 national teams, men’s and women’s.
  • All the volleyball techniques are faithfully reproduced using Unreal Engine 4 and motion capture: spikes, bumps, blocks, floaters…
  • Build and manage your own team in Career mode.
  • Use tactics developed by professional coaches.
  • Match up against other players in local and online multiplayer modes.

Continue here to read the full story.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

  • Audio-Technica CKR7TW and SPORT7TW Wireless Earbuds on The Verge.
  • be quiet! Pure Power 11 700W L11-CM-700W Power Supply Unit on Nikk Tech.
  • Cooler Master MWE Gold 750 Fully Modular Power Supply on Overclockers Club.
  • Drobo 8D Thunderbolt 3 Storage on TweakTown.
  • GIGABYTE RTX 2070 GAMING OC Graphics Card on Vortez.
  • IOGEAR 4K Ultra Long-Range Wireless Extender on TweakTown.
  • SteelSeries Rival 650 Mouse on TechPowerUp.

etc.

Out of the Blue

Brian Windhorst Says Pelicans Negotiated With Lakers In Bad Faith In Order To Torpedo Team Chemistry. That is some next-level deviousness there. The small rosters of NBA teams has led to some interesting situations in recent years, from LeBron and friends playing the system to form his dream team in Miami to this example of his newest team paying such a price. I'd decry all the tampering, except my Knicks seem to be engaged in some themselves, as observers think they wouldn't have traded Kristaps Porzingis and cleared all that cap room without some level of confidence they will land two maximum-salary free agents. There's even speculation they've got some sort of secret deal already with Kevin Durant. Like I say, next-level deviousness and interesting situations.

R.I.P.: Guy Webster, Photographer of Album Covers by the Doors and Byrds, Dies.

Devious Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Habbo Clicker.
Stories: FOX Renews "Simpsons," Scraps "24" Reboot. Simpsons seasons 31 and 32.
Did a Seal Eat Your Vacation Photos? A New Zealand Scientist Is Looking for You. Thanks j.c.f.
Science: 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record.
We look at the “witchcraft” behind why dowsers usually find water.
Hayabusa 2 will finally start mining an asteroid on February 22nd.
Images: First Photos: "Game of Thrones" Final Season.
Media: Pet Sematary (2019) - Trailer 2.
If Women Had "Hubby-Vision".
Dashcam footage shows driver backing away from spot where accident happens moments later.
Follow-up: One of pharma's most notorious gougers is going bankrupt, but 2019 is a banner year for shkreli-grade pharmaceutical price-hikes.
The Funnies: A fistful of permissions - CommitStrip.



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