Archived News:

Friday, Mar 22, 2019

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Released

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is now available, offering the promised action/adventure game from FromSoftware for Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. A recent trailer offers a look at the game and an overview of gameplay. Here's word on this chance to test your mettle in this recreation of feudal Japan:
Gamers worldwide will embark on an unforgettable journey that makes death an enemy and ally in the highly-anticipated videogame, Sekiro™: Shadows Die Twice. Directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki of FromSoftware (Dark Souls and Bloodborne), Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice launches today as an epic adventure that introduces players to a beautifully dark world filled with brutal enemies, intense sword combat, and engrossing vertical exploration! The game is now available on PlayStation®4; PlayStation®4 Pro; the family of Xbox One devices from Microsoft, including the Xbox One X; and PC via Steam.

Players will discover an all-new gaming experience in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice as they take on the role of the “one-armed wolf.” As the game’s sole protagonist, the wolf is willed to obey and protect by using his newly acquired shinobi prosthetic arm to restore his honor, rescue his master known as The Divine Heir, and exact revenge on his enemy at all costs. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice offers reward-based exploration as players uncover new items, meet new characters, encounter hidden challenges, and learn more about the rich lore within the game – all taking place across a detailed world filled with beautiful vistas, unique weaponry, and larger-than-life foes.

"Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a game set in Japan’s Sengoku era and portrays the great battle faced by a lone, one-armed shinobi. Withered and ruined landscapes combined with a vibrant color palette make for a game world that is true to the FromSoftware style, in which the player is always one step away from death. It is our hope that new and old fans alike will enjoy our shinobi’s journey; rich with intense and dynamic combat," said Hidetaka Miyazaki, President of FromSoftware and Director of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
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Out of the Park Baseball 20 Released

Today is opening day for Out of the Park Baseball 20 with the worldwide release of the latest installment in this sports simulation series. This year's game has a lineup of new features and improvements, including all-new integrated live services, an improved 3D in-game experience, modern baseball strategies, upgraded AI, Perfect Team mode 2.0, 2019 opening day rosters for all teams, and more. The launch trailer shows things off, and the announcement fills in the details:
Out of the Park Developments, an official licensee of Major League Baseball (MLB), the Major League Baseball Players Association, and, announced that Out of the Park Baseball 20 is available worldwide today! OOTP 20 is the 20th anniversary edition of the award-winning baseball strategy game, the culmination of two decades of sports strategy gaming excellence with dozens of exciting new features and deep improvements.

Out of the Park Baseball 20 includes:

  • For the first time ever - integrated live services all season long! Start a new MLB game any day during the regular season and Postseason with up-to-date rosters, standings, stats and player ratings, or to update player ratings in your current game based on their current performances.
  • All new motion-capture-powered 3D animations, driving a supercharged in-game experience
  • Ultra-modern baseball strategies, including ‘openers’ and ‘followers’ as today’s game continues to evolve - plus advanced in-game smarts to counteract these moves!
  • Improved AI for trades, scouting, contracts, roster-building, and player evaluation
  • Upgraded prospect and minor league ratings, thanks to the biggest and most hands-on roster evaluation team yet!
  • 2019 roster sets with all Opening Day MLB rosters, as well as the complete minor league system from Triple-A to rookie leagues as well as the Arizona Fall League. All major league (and over a thousand minor league) player ratings will be based on the popular ZiPS player projection system.
  • 12 international leagues, as well as several independent minor leagues in the US and internationally, with accurate rosters
  • Perfect Team mode 2.0, the next generation of the wildly popular online competitive mode - including all-new tournaments, hundreds of more cards, collection missions, upgraded auction house, additional league levels, and new content release every week all year long!
  • Many more improvements, all built upon the incredibly deep award-winning Out of the Park Baseball engine that has accurately simulated the World Series winner the past two seasons on MLB Network and produced deep simulations for!

In addition, this summer, Out of the Park Developments will unveil our exciting new mobile app OOTP Go, a completely revamped on-the-go experience that allows you to enjoy OOTP and Perfect Team mode anywhere, any time!

Out of the Park Baseball 20 can be ordered through this link.

Out of the Park Baseball 20 is also available on Steam & Origin. Purchasers of the game via these channels will receive 10% launch discount, which expires March 29.

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Quake Champions Patched

A new March update patch is now available for Quake Champions is now available, updating the multiplayer shooter with performance updates, game optimizations, balance changes, seasonal rewards, and bug fixes. The Quake Champions Website has the complete patch notes detailing all that's new. We also have an announcement covering this with details on the Battle Pass, the associated discontinuation of sales of the Champions Pack, esports plans, and more. Here's that:
The Quake Champions March Update is here, and it includes a ton of performance updates, game optimizations, balance changes, and more bug fixes than you can cram into the hallowed halls of Blood Covenant. We also have a brand-new season of rewards for you to earn, new items in the store, and some news on our esports plans for 2019.

A New Season of Rewards and Custom Games for All
It’s a whole new season, Quakers. Progress through the Season 2 Battle Pass to earn exclusive vanity rewards like the Flintlock Shotgun, Visor’s Plasma Emission System, and the coveted Tesla Lightning Gun. Plus, we’ve added a few new items in the store, like the community-created Chibi Icons Pack.

Rewards aren’t the only thing players can earn for free this season: we’re giving ALL players access to create their own Custom Games! Now everyone can play around with match rules, practice against bots, or just run around the maps.

Champions Pack Discontinued
As part of our shift towards the Battle Pass, we have discontinued selling the Champions Pack. Current Champions Pack and Scalebearer Edition owners will keep their Champions and vanity items unlocked through those packs. Players can still acquire Champions through Shards or with Platinum, but the Champions Pack is no longer available for purchase.

Esports Happenings
We’ve witnessed some of the most exhilarating moments in esports across our Quake Champions tournaments, and we’re just getting started. Our world-class competitors will once again get the chance to prove their skill in the new yearlong 2019-2020 season, which kicks off with a Duel tournament at QuakeCon 2019 and leads up to a World Championship at QuakeCon 2020—the 25th year of QuakeCon!

There’s much more news to come about how we’re restructuring our esports season this year, and we’re excited to share it with you soon.

Performance Optimizations and Quality of Life Updates
The March Update includes numerous server networking and client rendering improvements that should make performance feel more consistent overall. In this update we’ve also combed through each of the maps to fix several issues impacting performance, and we’ve squashed an exhaustive list of bugs.

From settings customization to soundtrack selection, we’ve added a bunch of new QoL features to Quake Champions. Highlights include a “Learn” tutorials section for new players; improved Bot AI and ability support; crosshair scaling; a skippable intro cinematic; and more!

We’ll see you in the Arena!

Guilds Of Delenar Early Access

Steam now offers Early Access to Guilds Of Delenar, an isometric role-playing game for Windows. Word is: "Taking on the role of the guildmaster, players will have to decide which quests to send their guild heroes out on and how to properly manage their resources in order for their guild to flourish." Here's a semi-recent trailer with a look at gameplay, and here's more on the release:
Guildmasters will be able to choose from multiple parties and command their carefully selected heroes in tactical turn-based combat through dungeons to bolster their supplies and when strategy deems it, to take on rival guilds and neighboring towns. Strategy fans will enjoy real-time battle and combat management where one decision may turn the tide of battle in their favor.
A full list of features include:

  • Grow guilds from a ragtag group of starter heroes into a regional powerhouse
  • Hire and manage a variety of heroes and classes
  • Battle existing guilds in each town to claim the throne
  • Real-time battle and combat management
  • Strategically order heroes to complete quests for the town
  • Procedurally generated gear system for constant fresh loot
  • Multiple varying skill trees to make each hero unique
  • Five hero parties to assemble the perfect team
  • Dungeon crawling battles for experience and unique items
  • A diverse set of tactical battlefields
  • Various difficulty levels

Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Screenshots

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 Announced

Paradox Interactive has lived up to expectations with the announcement of Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2, an upcoming sequel to the blood-sucking RPG based on White Wolf Studios' pen-and-paper World of Darkness series. This is due for PC and consoles next year, but preorders are already underway on the Bloodlines 2 Website. Developing and releasing the original game ended up being the death of developer Troika, and the new game is being created by Hardsuit Labs, who will hopefully avoid a similar fate. But there's still a connection between the two games, as its lead narrative designer is Brian Mitsoda, who is credited as a writer on the original. Additionally, Chris Avellone tweets that he's honored to be one of the writers on this project (thanks PC Gamer, where they humorously refer to Chris as an "occasional human stretch goal"). Here's the announcement trailer with some cinematics which they warn are "not actual gameplay." Here's word: 
Paradox Interactive today at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco revealed Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2, a role-playing game (RPG) set in a Seattle faithfully reimagined in the World of Darkness. The game is currently in development and will launch on PC and consoles in 2020. Developed by Hardsuit Labs, Bloodlines 2 is the successor to the iconic RPG Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, featuring reactive storytelling, fast-paced melee combat, and intriguing characters with their own hidden motives. Players will become the ultimate vampire as they stalk the city streets for prey, maneuver complex political relationships, and balance their need for blood against their withering humanity.

Pre-orders for Bloodlines 2 are now available on Steam, the Epic Games Store, GOG, and the Paradox Store for $59.99. A “Blood Moon Edition,” which contains the “Season of the Wolf” season pass and includes additional story content to be released after launch, is also available for pre-order at $89.99. Pre-orders, along with additional information about the game, are available here:

Created in an act of vampire insurrection, your existence ignites a blood war among the vampire factions who run Seattle. To survive, you’ll choose a clan and enter into uneasy alliances with the competing factions in a world which will react to every choice you make. Unleash your supernatural powers against your prey, but be mindful of your surroundings at all times or run the risk of breaking the Masquerade -- the absolute law of secrecy that keeps Vampire society hidden from humanity.

The creative mind behind the original Bloodlines, Brian Mitsoda, returns as Lead Narrative Designer for Bloodlines 2, giving fans a true successor to the original cult classic. “When Paradox announced they were acquiring the World of Darkness IP, I immediately started thinking about what it would be like to return to Vampire: The Masquerade,” Mitsoda said. “Our aim has been to carry on the signature themes that made Bloodlines unique - particularly its dark tone, atmosphere, and humor - and I think that fans of the original will love what we’re doing with Bloodlines 2.”
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Sea of Thieves Anniversary Update Next Month

Microsoft announces an Anniversary Update coming on April 30th to Sea of Thieves to celebrate the first year of the seafaring action game. The announce trailer offers a look at the flood of content that will be coming to the game, kicking off that they call a new golden age:
Marking a year of unbridled pirate adventure, Sea of Thieves presents the Anniversary Update: an expanded and enriched experience that builds on last year’s maiden voyage in a whole range of game-changing ways. The Anniversary Update brings you more ways to embrace the pirate life than ever before, including a host of new gameplay features and two major additions in the form of The Arena and Tall Tales - Shores of Gold. Follow immersive new quests, fish and cook for your crew and engage in thrilling contests of skill! Both Sea of Thieves and its legendary community are growing – now’s the perfect time to set sail.

The Arena allows you to get straight to the heart of the action in the new competitive mode. Pit your ship and your crew against others in a distinct game mode which will continue to grow in parallel to the Sea of Thieves adventure experience. Trust in your crew and prove your prowess in a purely competitive setting. After a vicious battle, share a grog with your rivals in the Glorious Sea Dog tavern, home to a new Trading Company led by the heroes of the Sea of Thieves comic series!

Tall Tales - Shores of Gold introduces a new epic storyline to the world of Sea of Thieves, delving deeper into the lore of our favourite pirate paradise. Follow a series of narrative adventures surrounding existing and all-new characters, taking you to undiscovered places and revealing surprising new gameplay features. Fans of the expanded game universe will recognise some of the iconic characters and locations in Shores of Gold, yet this is only the beginning of a series of Tall Tales that will allow players to immerse themselves in the legends of Sea of Thieves.
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House Flipper Gets Garden Flipper DLC Next Month

A post on Steam announces a May 16th Steam release date for Garden Flipper, the new DLC for House Flipper, the Windows and macOS simulation where you can create someone else's dream home. This trailer shows off how this will offer the chance to renovate decrepit countrysides without even so much as a community service sentence. Here's a bit:
Explore completely new orders and discover innovative mechanics, which we've designed in association with professional gardeners! Step by step, sink in the world of plants. Transform desolated gardens into beautiful masterworks - let them shine under your management. And when you'll be ready to create your own garden...

In Garden Flipper, you're the one who decides how your garden looks like! Do you prefer widespread gardens of the Palace of Versailles or the minimalistic style of Zen gardens? Don't limit yourself! Let your garden shine for you and make your neighbors jealous of it! Make appraisers fight for it! And if you like, put your feet up and relax in the sanctuary of silence and peace which will calm your senses and will give you the energy to implement new ideas in the next houses.

The new expansion is not only about plants and flowers. We've prepared hundreds of new items which will make your garden look even better!
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February U.S. Game Sales

EEDAR offers updated statistics on U.S. video game sales for February and for year to date:

Top 10 Selling Video Games (Retail and Digital), February 2019
Rank Rank Last Month Title Publisher Publisher
1 NEW Anthem^ Electronic Arts
2 NEW Jump Force Bandai Namco Games (Corp)
3 1 Kingdom Hearts III Square Enix Inc (Corp)
4 NEW Far Cry New Dawn Ubisoft
5 6 Red Dead Redemption II Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
6 2 Resident Evil 2 2019 Capcom USA
7 5 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
8 NEW Metro: Exodus^ Deep Silver
9 8 NBA 2K19 Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
10 4 Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII^ Activision Blizzard (Corp)

Top 10 Selling Video Games (Retail and Digital), YTD Ending February 2019
Rank Rank Last Month Title Publisher Publisher
1 1 Kingdom Hearts III Square Enix Inc (Corp)
2 NEW Anthem^ Electronic Arts
3 2 Resident Evil 2 2019 Capcom USA
4 NEW Jump Force Bandai Namco Games (Corp)
5 6 Red Dead Redemption II Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
6 5 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
7 4 Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII^ Activision Blizzard (Corp)
8 3 New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe* Nintendo
9 8 NBA 2K19 Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
10 7 Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown Bandai Namco Games (Corp)

*** No digital sales included in ranking.
^ sales not included
NPD’s U.S. top 10 games list, ranked by dollar sales, includes full-game digital sales (from participating publishers) as well as sales for physical formats sold at retail and online across console, PC and portable platforms.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Happy World Water Day 2019. Here's word on this year's theme: "The theme for World Water Day 2019 is ‘Leaving no one behind’. This is an adaptation of the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit."

Hydrated Links: Thanks Ant.
Stories: Clean drinking water a bigger global threat than climate change, EPA's Wheeler says.
"Thrones" Star On Her Near Death Health Scares.
Science: Why “chickenpox parties” are a terrible idea—in case it’s not obvious. Thanks RedEye9.
Media: John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019 Movie) New Trailer.
How Physical Penetration Testers hack locks and doors. NSFW.
The difference between water and beer.
Follow-up: "Bond 25" Cast Still Haven't Seen The Script.
Earth is (always has been) round, so why have the flat-out wrong become so lively?
The Funnies: Savage Chickens.
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