Archived News:

Monday, Mar 18, 2019

Next Half-Life Within Five Years? [Updated]

Update: The oddness of this is now explained, as the video has been yoinked. Apparently the quoted email was fake. Original story: Another new video from VNN sets some more emails from Valve boss Gabe Newell to video. It seems odd that he would break radio silence on the future of Half-Life in a personal email, but presuming he's not trolling us, this seems to be exactly what he has done. When asked about the future of the series by someone wanting to know if he would be able to play a new chapter in Half-Life before his own life ends, Gabe replies: "Just don't die in the next five years, or so, okay?" Continue here to read the full story.

NVIDIA Bringing DirectX Raytracing to GeForce GTX Cards

NVIDIA announces plans to introduce DirectX Raytracing to GeForce GTX CPUS next month, starting with the GTX 1060 and up. Here's word:
From engine updates to exciting games to developer tools, NVIDIA and its partners are making a number of ray tracing announcements at GDC 2019 to drive the ecosystem forward around this exciting new technology.

For decades, NVIDIA has been working towards the dream of real-time videogame ray tracing. It required millions of hours of research and development, focusing on everything from GPU hardware and software, to updated APIs and game engines, to development tools and denoisers. In 2018, all that hard work came to fruition with the launch of GeForce RTX GPUs, the world’s first consumer graphics cards with dedicated RT Core ray tracing hardware, enabling realistic ray-traced effects to run in real-time in high-fidelity and at high resolutions.

In the time since, our software and developer teams have kept working, allowing us to optimize our ray tracing technology, make new software advancements, and help developers further accelerate ray tracing performance in games. Because of this work, we have dramatically sped up ray tracing performance for GeForce RTX GPUs, and can now enable DirectX Raytracing ( DXR ) on GeForce GTX 1060 6GB and higher graphics cards via a Game Ready Driver update, expected in April.

The much larger install base of RT-capable GPUs will fuel developer adoption of ray tracing technology, bringing more games for both GeForce RTX and GeForce GTX users to experience. GeForce GTX gamers will have an opportunity to use ray tracing at lower RT quality settings and resolutions, while GeForce RTX users will experience up to 2-3x faster performance thanks to the dedicated RT Cores on their GPUs, enabling the use of higher-quality settings and resolutions at higher framerates.

Chet Faliszek and Kim Voll Form Stray Bombay

The Stray Bombay Website is online as home to a new developer formed by Chet Faliszek, formerly of Valve, and Kimberly Voll who previously worked at Riot Games. The main post on the site is from both of them. Here's the intro from Chet on their inspiration:
I love co-op games and have had the chance to work on some amazing ones (Left 4 Dead 1 & 2, Portal 2). After the release of Left 4 Dead (L4D), I received an email that changed forever how I think about making games. It was from a soldier stationed in Iraq who said L4D had saved his marriage. It was simple—he and his wife missed each other and talking on the phone just made them realize this more and feel even more miserable. But jumping into a game of L4D let them forget that and just exist in the moment. They could spend time in each other’s company as if they were sitting next to each other on the couch at home.

That is powerful and something only the shared experience of games can bring.

Players are smart, they are social. But games often don’t reflect that and we think that can change. So we’re forming a new studio in Seattle that is itself co-operative. There is an old adage that you should never be scared to hire someone smarter than yourself...for me that’s a pretty easy task. Choosing my co-founder was even easier—I just asked the smartest person I know to join me, Dr. Kimberly Voll. Kim's an expert in AI and human-centric design. She's worked on products that have touched millions and is equally excited about the power of games and the future of playing together.

As Kim and I talked over the years about the kind of games we want to make, we realized we want to create games that give players a place to breathe and live in the moment. Games that tell stories knowing you are going to come back again and again, that change each time you play them without feeling completely random, and that help you feel like a real team that supports each other...not a bunch of folks in each other’s way. And where AI drives not just the enemies but helps drive the entire experience.

Apex Legends Season 1 and Battle Pass Tomorrow

EA announces Season 1 gets underway tomorrow for Apex Legends, at which time the first battle pass for the battle royale game will go on sale. Here's all you need to know:
The hunt (for sweet loot) is on. Season 1 – Wild Frontier arrives tomorrow, and you can score tons of seasonal swag with the Wild Frontier Battle Pass. Every level you gain during Season 1 unlocks a Battle Pass reward, and there are over 100 that you can score throughout the season.

Weapon skins, banner frames, XP boosts, and more are yours for the taking, and you have all of Season 1 to earn them. Plus, you’ll score three Wild Frontier-themed Legend skins immediately when you purchase the pass.

Starting March 19, you can get the Battle Pass from the in-game shop for 950 Apex Coins. To level up your Battle Pass even faster, you can grab the Battle Pass Bundle, which unlocks your next 25 Battle Pass levels (and their respective rewards) automatically after purchase.

Ready for more? Find out how to grab your Battle Pass and get ready for a wild ride.

Battlefield V Firestorm Next Week

A tweet from Battlefield announces Firestorm will launch on March 25th, offering the promised battle royale mode for Battlefield V, the military shooter. They offer screenshots of Halvøy, the new map this will play out on, and link to a post on the Battlefield V website with big information dump on the mode. Here's a bit:
Developed by Criterion Games in partnership with DICE, Firestorm elevates battle royale by bringing in the best of what Battlefield is known for. Mix a shrinking playing field with trademark Battlefield elements such as team play, powerful vehicles, and destruction, and you get battle royale so intense it’ll make your lips curl.

Expect even more details on Firestorm to come as we head closer to launch, but here’s a quick primer:

  • Wage war in a ring of fire that slowly shrinks the battlefield – don’t get trapped
  • Fight to be the last infantry squad standing of 64 players in 16 squads
  • The game-changing addition of Battlefield vehicles lets you wipe out unsuspecting squads with a tank or drive to survive with transport vehicles
  • Work together as a squad to secure objectives that grant better and rare gear
  • Clash on the biggest Battlefield map to date
  • Transform the map with Destruction
  • Feel battle royale brought to life with stunning Battlefield graphics and audio
  • Matches are tied to your Company and Battlefield V progression

Battle Royale is a Burning Thing, and it Makes a Fiery Ring
From the moment you fall, down, down, down, from the sky, to when your boots hit the ground on the largest Battlefield map ever created – the encircling ring of fire presses in on you and your squad in an all-out war for survival among 16 squads of up to four players.

Two Point Hospital: Pebberley Island Released

Steam now offers Two Point Hospital: Pebberley Island, a new DLC pack for Two Point Hospital, which allows you to play doctor on the Windows, macOS, and Linux. They celebrate the news with a music video they describe thusly: "Chap-hop artist Professor Elemental's music video celebrates Wiggy Silverbottom's expedition in search of the mythical spring of immortality in Two Point Hospital's new DLC." Here's word on the DLC as well as the chance to pick up the original game on sale:
Sunglasses? Check. Map and compass? Check. Stethoscope? Check. We're ready for an expedition to Pebberley Island, as Two Point Hospital's second DLC is out now on Steam for $8.99! To celebrate, famous part-time explorer and germaphobe Wiggy Silverbottom enlisted the help of chap-hop artist Professor Elemental in his new music video: https://youtu.be/h-OChHpQ-bw

The new region of Two Point Hospital, Pebberley Island, adds three new hospitals: the seemingly-idyllic atoll of Pebberley Reef with its extreme weather; Overgrowth where you will build your hospital amidst the trees in the sentient jungle; and the stunning plateau of Topless Mountain, in which you will have to clear hordes of sick tourists. All this as you cure 10 new visual and 24 non-visual illnesses including Wanderust, Blank Look and Screwball.

Two Point Hospital is currently 33% off on Steam until 21 March, and available from SEGA approved digital retailers. For all things Two Point Hospital, sign up for our Hospital Pass at www.twopointhospital.com, and receive the new legendary Golden Bathroom Suite in-game signup bonus, including the Golden Toilet, Golden Sink and Golden Hand-dryer so your patients can feel like royalty.
Continue here to read the full story.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Trailer

With Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice due for release on Friday, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment offers a new trailer to offer a gameplay overview of FromSoftware's next action game. Here's what they have to say about this: "Intense sword combat, surprise attacks, resurrection, enemy deception and more await! Get a glimpse of the impeccable gameplay mechanics that await your discovery in this game walkthrough video." Continue here to read the full story.

Generation Zero Trailer

A new release trailer from Generation Zero is now online to pave the way for next week's release of this open-world action game from Avalanche Studios. It's safe to say that if time machines were real, the most popular destination would be 1980s Sweden, but since they aren't, we'll have to rely on this game to make that dream come true. Here's word:
Experience an explosive game of cat and mouse set in a vast open world. In this reimagining of 1980s Sweden, hostile machines have invaded the serene countryside, and you need to fight back while unravelling the mystery of what is really going on. By utilizing battle tested guerrilla tactics, you’ll be able to lure, cripple, or destroy enemies in intense, creative sandbox skirmishes.

Go it alone, or team-up with up to three of your friends in seamless co-op multiplayer. Collaborate and combine your unique skills to take down enemies, support downed friends by reviving them, and share the loot after an enemy is defeated.

All enemies are persistently simulated in the world and roam the landscape with intent and purpose. When you manage to destroy a specific enemy component, be it armour, weapons or sensory equipment, the damage is permanent. Enemies will bear those scars until you face them again, whether that is minutes, hours or weeks later.

Explore a vast open world, rendered with the award-winning Apex engine, featuring a full day/night cycle with unpredictable weather, complex AI behaviour, simulated ballistics, highly realistic acoustics and a dynamic 1980’s soundtrack. In Generation Zero, living is winning.
Continue here to read the full story.

Apex Legends Cheaters Hit With Permanent Hardware Bans

Players caught cheating at Apex Legends are now receiving permanent hardware bans, reports Daily Esports, who say this is a hot topic on the wretched hives of scum and villainy where cheats are shared (thanks Game Rant). Some players attempt to cheat in most every online game, and bans are a common way to combat this, but this can be frustrating in free-to-play games like Apex Legends where banned players can simply register for new accounts. By taking the more drastic measure of banning the hardware used by cheaters, Respawn is sending a clear message of genuine zero tolerance for such behavior. Word is that any account made on flagged hardware is banned within 30 minutes. The report offers an example from Reddit of a cheater who posted that their ban persisted even after they changed HWID, vol id, and Mac address, and after formatting their PC, performing a factory reset, changing their dynamic IP, partitioning their hard drives, and even installing an older GPU. If that all isn't enough to make your day, the schadenfreude actually gets better:
While there are some ways (difficult as they may be) around Respawn’s hardware ban, most cheaters are still furious. Their anger isn’t just directed at Respawn, but at the websites or companies that sold them the cheats. A good majority of these cheats cost anywhere from $60 to $150, depending on the program. That is a lot of money to pay to have your account banned a day later. However, the websites that sell these cheats are promising the buyers undetectable and unbannable hacks. While some of these do get through the Anti-Cheat software, many are being flagged and leaving the buyers unable to play Apex on the same PC again.

Halo Insider Program Offers Beta Access

343 Industries invites players to join the Halo Insider Program for the chance to participate in early access play sessions for in-development Halo games (thanks [H]ardOCP. This will include the chance to influence the Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which was recently confirmed for Windows. The Halo Insider FAQ has the details, including word that this replaces the previous MCC Insider Program, so previous insiders need to re-register to be part of the new program. Here's more:
BECOME A HALO INSIDER
The Halo Insider Program is the new way Halo fans and community members can partner with 343 Industries to improve our games, products, and services. As a Halo Insider, you’ll have the opportunity to regularly provide feedback and insights that help shape and inform current franchise initiatives and the future of Halo. You will also be given exclusive opportunities to participate in public flights of in-progress Halo game releases and provide feedback to the development teams.

PUBLIC FLIGHTING
Halo Insiders who choose to opt in to console or PC flighting will be considered for early access play sessions with in-development Halo games. Every improvement to Halo: The Master Chief Collection over the past year was the direct result of Insiders participating in flights and sharing feedback to the development team. Each public flight has specific goals, meaning not all Insiders will be selected for every flight. To increase your chances for selection, make sure your Halo Insider settings are complete and accurate. And remember, you can always come back to update your settings or opt out of the program.

Epic's Sweeney Calls Exclusives "PROCOMPETITIVE"

DSOGaming notes a series of posts on Reddit from Tim Sweeney have more from the Epic Games CEO on what's going on in the Epic Games Store, where Epic's discounted take is adding a little disruption to the online games market. One post on Reddit Sweeney defends the practice of signing games to exclusive distribution deals, saying that this is a "PROCOMPETITIVE issue and the PC remains an open platform." Here's a bit:
Yes, and the PC remains open, and there is more robust competition among PC stores than ever before. There's Steam offering Valve games, Origin offering EA games, Battle.net offering Activision and Bungie games, Epic Games offering games from many publishers.

I get that you guys don't like store-exclusive games, but that's a completely separate, and PROCOMPETITIVE issue, compared to closing down platforms like Windows to monopolize distribution, as iOS does, and as Microsoft was trying to do with UWP and locked-down versions of Windows -- which failed, and whose proponents are now gone and replaced with great leaders like Satya Nadella and Phil Spencer who are driving Windows forward as an open platform!

GWENT: Crimson Curse Preorders

GOG.com announces that preorders are underway for Crimson Curse, a new expansion coming to GWENT: The Witcher Card Game. The post also mentions a new trailer without offering a link, but never fear, we've got you covered. Here's word on preorders:
We’ve awaited this far too long… hunted by those who live in comfort and opulence.

No more.

You can now purchase a Crimson Curse Pre-order Pack! It includes the legendary Blood Armor leader skin for Unseen Elder, Crimson Curse-themed animated cardback, as well as 40 Crimson Curse Kegs at a special price (each keg contains 5 cards exclusively from the expansion).

This offer is available until March 28th.

Contents of the Pre-order Pack will be immediately added to your inventory, but you will be able to open the Kegs and use the vanity items only after the expansion releases on March 28th.

The Blood Armor Unseen Elder skin and Crimson Curse cardback are currently only available as part of the Crimson Curse Pre-order Pack, however, slightly different versions of these items may eventually be available for purchase in the in-game shop.
Continue here to read the full story.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

The annual Game Developers Conference gets underway today in San Francisco, so if the past is prologue and recent teasing is to be trusted, some new announcements should be rolling in. This is something we should get used to, as this more-or-less kicks off the spring/summer game convention season, and the dust from GDC will barely settle before next week's kickoff of PAX East. Time to call your bookie and make sure you've properly placed all your bets.

R.I.P.: Dick Dale, surf guitar pioneer, dies at 81.

Conventional Links: Thanks Ant.
Stories: How Parents Are Robbing Their Children of Adulthood. Thanks RedEye9.
To curb traffic, cities explore implementing congestion pricing during peak hours.
Science: The 90-year-old still dreaming of resurrecting a mammoth. Ignores chaos theory.
Spring to kick off with final supermoon of 2019. Worn Moon!
SpaceX tests heat shields that will stop its Starship from burning up.
This medieval astrolabe is officially world’s oldest known such instrument.
Media: This Dog's Terrible Agility Course Run Is The Most Delightful Thing You'll Watch This Week.
Earth at 2° hotter will be horrific. Now here’s 4° +.
Utility Pole Change Out.
Follow-up: How a 50-year-old design came back to haunt Boeing with its troubled 737 Max jet. Thanks RedEye9.
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