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Monday, Feb 11, 2019

Play Civilization VI For Free

As the storm gathers for this week's release of Civilization VI: Gathering Storm, Steam is offering the chance to play Sid Meier's Civilization VI for free for the next two days (thanks DSOGaming). The game is also currently on sale for 70% off in case you need to play just one more turn after the free period elapses. Here's a description:
Originally created by legendary game designer Sid Meier, Civilization is a turn-based strategy game in which you attempt to build an empire to stand the test of time. Become Ruler of the World by establishing and leading a civilization from the Stone Age to the Information Age. Wage war, conduct diplomacy, advance your culture, and go head-to-head with history’s greatest leaders as you attempt to build the greatest civilization the world has ever known.

Civilization VI offers new ways to engage with your world: cities now physically expand across the map, active research in technology and culture unlocks new potential, and competing leaders will pursue their own agendas based on their historical traits as you race for one of five ways to achieve victory in the game.

Axis & Allies Online Announced

Beamdog announces Axis & Allies Online, an upcoming MMOG for Windows, macOS, and Linux based on Axis & Allies, the classic tabletop wargame. They say they plan on bringing this to Early Access on Steam, but do not specify when. We asked about that, and all they would commit to is: "We're hoping to release the title very soon - but can't say exactly when!" It does not yet have a Steam listing, but it does have its own website, offering newsletter signups and the promise of more details down the road. Here's the announcement:
Today video game developer Beamdog announced Axis & Allies Online, an official adaptation of the classic board game, Axis & Allies. Axis & Allies Online will be released as a Steam Early Access title for Windows, macOS and Linux, priced at $19.99 USD.

“Growing up, I had two favourite games, Dungeons & Dragons and Axis & Allies. As a long-time Axis & Allies player, I’m excited to be able to recreate this classic game for other avid fans— and for new online audiences,” said Trent Oster, Beamdog CEO. “Axis & Allies Online captures the tactics and friendly rivalry of the board game with a few key differences: there’s no setup or cleanup, and you can’t flip the table when you’re losing.”

Axis & Allies Online adapts rules from Axis & Allies: 1942 Second Edition, a turn-based strategy board game in which players act as World War II powers on either side of the conflict: the Allied forces of United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union, or the Axis powers of Germany and Japan.

“We know there is an appetite for an online version of Axis & Allies within the tabletop community, not necessarily to replace the board game, but as a way to play when your gaming group can’t meet up, or when you don’t have time to commit to a full game.” Oster continued, “Our online version is a great way for new players to discover the fun of this classic game.”

Axis & Allies Online players act as one or more of the world powers, with a maximum of five players in a single game. Multiplayer games can include both AI and human players; players also have the option to play on their own against AI. With asynchronous play, players can take turns on their own time and watch opponent’s moves in observer mode.

Oster says Beamdog’s adaptation successfully captures the spirit the original, “Axis & Allies Online is a loyal implementation of the 1942 Second Edition rules. We love the board game and we’re incredibly excited to bring that experience to the desktop,” said Trent Oster. Beyond its classic gameplay, Axis & Allies Online offers interactive maps, combat summaries, and dramatic music and sound effects.

Apex Legends Passes 25M Users in a Week

A Week One Recap from Vince Zampella updates us on the state of Apex Legends one week out from the launch of Respawn's free-to-play battle royale game. Word is the game has now attracted 25 million players and counting: "We’re also thrilled to announce that since last Monday, more than 25 million players have jumped into the game, and over the weekend we had well over 2 million concurrent players at our peak," explains the Respawn boss. "Like I said earlier, what a week!" Apparently this success is even having a halo effect on Titanfall 2 (or at least a destiny effect). Vince also fills us in on more of their future plans:

  • First up, the Twitch Rivals Apex Legends Challenge. Sponsored by our friends at Twitch, the Rivals Apex Legends Challenge will take place this Tuesday the 12th and next Tuesday the 19th, with 48 of the biggest streamers on Twitch competing live in Apex Legends. We’ll be co-streaming all the action from our Apex Legends Twitch channel here:
  • Then, later this week we’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day by introducing some limited-time Valentine’s Day themed loot, so all you (Apex Legends) lovers out there keep your eyes open.
  • Don’t forget, Season One kicks off in March, introducing the debut of our Battle Pass as well as new Legends, weapons, loot, and more.

One Finger Death Punch 2 Demo

A playable demo for One Finger Death Punch 2 is now available on Steam, offering the chance to try your hand (or at least your finger) at this upcoming 2D brawler sequel. Developer/publisher Silver Dollar Games provides a Demo Launch Trailer to show off gameplay, but this post on Steam says not to go by that, stressing the importance of sampling the game: "You can't get a feel for the gameplay from watching videos. The flow of combat is something we spent years tweaking. It's what makes OFDP2 unique. Only by playing it will this become clear. That's why it's important to us that you try the game out before you consider purchasing it." The announcement offers more:
Silver Dollar Games is pleased to release a demo for its highly-anticipated sequel, One Finger Death Punch 2 (OFDP2). The demo gives players roughly 45 minutes of fast-paced action controlling the chosen one (AKA white stick figure) as he fights his way through wave after wave of bad guys. Using his advanced martial arts techniques, various weapons, deadly skills, and surroundings, players can Eagle Claw their way through the tutorial and then Plum Flower Punch a handful of levels from the game’s first map.

Today’s demo will serve as a dumpling-sized appetizer to the full OFDP2 experience. Couch-potato combatants can expect over 400 levels, 15 level types, 4 endless survival modes, and two gauntlet run game modes all while helping the chosen one learn a total of 26 new skills.

“One Finger Death Punch 2 has been a labor of love for my brother and I for the past five years,” Silver Dollar Games’ Jon Flook says. “Our only wish is for players to once again feel like they’re a kung-fu legend across all of the fun and engaging levels and game modes.”
Continue here to read the full story.

The Textorcist Demo

Steam now offers a playable demo for The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia, the upcoming bullet hell game. The full game is due on Thursday, so this gives you a couple of days to decide if it's your type. This is accompanied by a new release trailer and the following explanation:
With The Textorcist's release just around the corner (February 14th), even the last non-believers are given the chance to repent by trying out the demo version of the game.

Life as an exorcist is hard: You get insulted, spit and puked at, or even cursed. But you’re a badass so you can handle anything thrown at you in bullet hell meets typing game The Textorcist. In The Textorcist you only do two things: type and dodge. Easier said than done. Any spelling mistake you make will set you back; but to make things really interesting you also have to dodge your enemies' relentless bullet barrage at the same time.
Continue here to read the full story.

Rumor: Unity Planning 2020 IPO

Cheddar reports they hear rumors that Unity Technologies is planning an IPO next year, attributing this to "people familiar with the matter." Unity's engine technology is probably second only to the Unreal engine in licensing penetration, and they say that last year Unity CEO (and former EA boss) John Riccitiello told them annual revenue was about $300 million. Cheddar sought comment on this from Unity, but they are as tight-lipped about this as you might expect, with a spokesperson saying the company doesn't comment on IPO rumors or speculation. Since Unity is playing mum, they have a comment from an investment analyst, since commenting on IPO rumors or speculation is their specialty:
“It gives investors the opportunity to participate in the overall growth of the video game business on all platforms without having to choose a winner among the various publishers," said Brandon Ross, director and TMT Analyst at BTIG. "And investors understanding of video game engines has been heightened over the past several months as Epic has come into focus. We believe they have strategic value to some of the tech companies that might be looking to get deeper into games.”

Bigben to Publish Tour de France and Pro Cycling Manager

Bigben shows off their shiny new two-wheelers, announcing they now own the publishing rights for Tour de France and Pro Cycling Manager. This seems like a natural outgrowth of last year's announcement that they acquired Cyanide Studio, developer of each of these bicycle racing games. They discuss the new acquisition, and promise details on the 2019 installments in each series over the coming months:
Following the arrival of the development studio Cyanide to the group and a partnership signed with A.S.O, Bigben is pleased to announce it is adding the Tour de France and Pro Cycling Manager franchises to its games catalogue.

Every year the latest editions of Tour de France and Pro Cycling Manager allow cycling fans to enter the new stages of the world's most famous cycling races and take their teams to glory.

"Sports games have always been an important part of Bigben's catalogue. We are therefore extremely happy to be publishing these top cycling games, which will strengthen our publishing foothold," explained Benoît Clerc, Head of Publishing at Bigben Interactive.

"Tour de France and Pro Cycling Manager are long-established franchises from our studio and are eagerly anticipated by a growing number of fans every year. We are therefore delighted that we will benefit from Bigben's sports sim expertise in 2019," said Patrick Pligersdorffer, CEO of Cyanide.
Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Interviews

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Catch-22 Teaser (Official).

The Division 2 Open Beta Plans Revealed

A clip from a developer Twitch stream confirms plans for an open beta test for The Division 2 (thanks u/TiniestBuckle via VG247). This was not previously announced, despite the casual way fixing something for the open beta is mentioned. The original The Division had an open beta, so it's not shocking the sequel is following the same route. The release of the open world action/RPG sequel is planned for March 15th, so this should happen sometime fairly soon.

Total War: THREE KINGDOMS Delayed Until May

Publisher SEGA and developer Creative Assembly reveal they are delaying the release of Total War: THREE KINGDOMS until May 23rd. They previously announced  the new installment in the strategy series was coming on March 7th, but now say they are going to work on it a bit more. "We’re lucky to be in a position to do the right thing for our games, and in this case, it means taking the time to get everything ready for you," said Rob Bartholomew, Studio Brand Director at Creative Assembly. "It’s important that we give you a game that you can enjoy to the fullest, and we’re excited for you to see what we have in store." This post has a FAQ and some more details that are duplicated in this post on Steam:
With Three Kingdoms, we set out to create a new level of complexity. As such, we need a little more time to make sure these systems deliver as intended and give you the Total War experience you’ve waited so patiently for.

Of course, the extra time won’t hurt when it comes to fixing those bugs that have been hard to nail down, getting the localisation just right, and adding additional polish to help it shine. We all know those little details make a big difference.

We’re lucky to be in a position to do the right thing for our games, and in this case it means taking the time to get everything ready for you. It’s more important to give you a game that you can enjoy to the fullest, rather than stick to a release date just because.

We know not everyone’s going to be happy about this, but ultimately, we believe this the best thing for the game and our players.

JUMP FORCE System Specs

Steam listing for JUMP FORCE now offers system requirements for Kris Kross' favorite upcoming game (thanks DSOGaming). Here's word on what it will take to run BANDAI NAMCO's upcoming manga brawler:


Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
OS: Windows 7/8/10 (64-bit OS required)
Processor: Intel Core i5-2300, 2.80 GHz / AMD A10-7850K, 3.70 GHz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: GeForce GTX 660 Ti, 3 GB / Radeon HD 7950, 3 GB
DirectX: Version 11
Network: Broadband Internet connection
Storage: 17 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX compatible soundcard or onboard chipset

Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
OS: Windows 7/8/10 (64-bit OS required)
Processor: Intel Core i7-6700 / AMD Ryzen 5 1400
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: GeForce GTX 1060 / Radeon R9 Fury
DirectX: Version 11
Network: Broadband Internet connection
Storage: 17 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX compatible soundcard or onboard chipset

U.K. Sales Charts

GFK Chart-Track announces Red Dead Redemption 2 has won the shootout to return to the top spot of their top 40 chart of the bestselling games for last week in the U.K. There's no PC edition of the western shooter sequel, so it's a different story on the PC top 30 chart. Here's the top third of that one:


Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

I'm almost fully recovered from my vaccination ordeal. The worst of it was actually over by the time I mentioned it, but I was still a bit achy all over for most of Friday. My arm remains a bit sore at the injection site, but it's not too bad, and it continues to improve. I am certainly glad I had this done to my left shoulder though... do they still do injections above the butt on the hip like when I was a child? And do they do those for adults? Seems to me that probably would have been an easier place to deal with soreness than the shoulder, but I could be wrong about that.

R.I.P.: Walter Jones, congressman behind 'freedom fries', dies at 76

Links: Thanks Ant.
Stories: Mars One is dead.
Science: There’s Another Area Of Psychology Where Most Of The Results Do Replicate – Personality Research. Thanks Max.
NASA has taken a significant step toward human landings on the Moon. Party like it's 1969!
Media: Abbi and Ilana of Broad City Go Numb While Eating Spicy Wings. Thanks RedEye9.
What was D-Day like for the Germans? Thanks RedEye9.
Driver Tries To Use Shoulder To Cut Traffic, Other Cars Band Together To Teach Him A Lesson.
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