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Saturday, Feb 09, 2019

  

Rumor: Activision Plans Restructuring and Layoffs

Activision Blizzard is planning to announce layoffs next week "which could number in the hundreds," according Bloomberg where they attribute this to the current "painful stretch for the video-game industry." This is not confirmed, but the report is said to be "according to people familiar with the matter." Word is this will be part of a restructuring:

The layoffs, which could number in the hundreds, are part of a restructuring aimed at centralizing functions and boosting profit, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the changes haven’t been announced. Activision employed 9,800 people at the end of 2017.

The game maker, one of the largest in the world, acknowledged on a November conference call that some key titles, such as Overwatch and Hearthstone, were seeing flat or declining numbers of users. After disappointing sales of Destiny 2: Forsaken, the company parted ways with its developer, Bungie Inc., a move that could reduce annual revenue by as much as $400 million.

Analysts expect Activision’s sales to decline by about 2 percent this year, to $7.28 billion.

Blacklight: Retribution Closing in March

A post on Steam announces official support for Blacklight: Retribution for Windows is ending on March 11th, when the PC servers for the free-to-play first-person shooter will shut down (thanks Rock Paper Shotgun). Developer Zombie Studios closed their doors four years ago, but publisher Hardsuit Labs has continued to operate it since then. Now they explain some "very interesting projects" they have in the works require their "full focus." In the meantime, all the premium items in the game will be offered for free. Here are the details:

All good things must come to an end, and so it is with Blacklight: Retribution.

Thank you for so much for your loyal support, and love over the years. From the initial PC Closed Beta in November 2011 to today, it has been a great 7+ years. The joy that we got out of Blacklight: Retribution is a testament to you the fans; your loyalty, dedication, support, and ultimate willingness to try our fun, quirky FPS.

Why is this happening? The reality is Hardsuit Labs has been engaged for some time now in some very interesting projects that require the full focus of the development teams and leadership. The studio capacity and resources are and have been entirely engaged with these projects and will be for the foreseeable future. As such, we officially will no longer be patching, updating, or doing technical support for Blacklight Retribution. Account migration will officially shut down as of today, as will the official support site.

Starting today, all items in the PC store will be made free, and we hope that you continue to enjoy the game and items up until the PC servers are shut down on March 11th, 2019. The PS4 version of Blacklight Retribution will continue to operate as-is since there are no game servers being hosted for it.

DiRT Rally 2.0 Getting Oculus Rift Support

A tweet from Codemasters reveals plans for Oculus Rift virtual reality support in DiRT Rally 2.0 (thanks PC Gamer). The game is due for release in a couple of weeks, but word is the VR support will be added via a patch this summer. Here's word:

We heard you. @Oculus heard you. DiRT Rally 2.0 + Oculus = this summer… #RisetotheChallenge

Saturday Consolidation

Saturday Metaverse

Saturday Tech Bits

Saturday Safety Dance

Saturday Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

  • CORSAIR K70 RGB MK.2 SE Keyboard on TechPowerUp.
  • GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Xtreme (Intel Z390) Motherboard on TweakTown.

Out of the Blue

Today is National Pizza Day and National Bagel Day! Sadly there do not seem to be international versions of either "holiday." As a native New Yorker I am compelled to point out these two foods are basically New York City's claim to culinary fame. The perception that NYC is the best area in the country for each used to seem like a regional prejudice, but somewhere along the way people started attributing it to the water. On the other hand, this article on bagels debunks the water theory, but confusingly, this article on pizza from the same site lends credence to it, so go figure. PUR and Food & Wine each tackle this question with mixed messages as well. I don't know the answer, but the fact that one California pizzeria imports their water from New York seems to support the water theory. According to these reports, they did an experiment and found their customers preferred the pizza made with New York water by a startling nine to one ratio.

Watery Links: Thanks Ant.
Links: Tasteful suburban real estate listing has tasteful sex dungeon.
Stories: Westworld’s third season likely won’t air until 2020.
Senator introduces a bill to legalize marijuana and it’s called S.420.
Drug companies are sitting on generics—43% of recently approved aren’t for sale.
Media: Alanis Morisette and James Corden update the song "Ironic".
You can do it!
Honey Badger Rescues Her Baby from Leopard. So brave. Hope the little one is okay.

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.



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