Archived News:

Friday, Mar 29, 2019

Free Oxenfree on Epic Games Store

Olly olly free oxen free! The latest freebie is now live on the Epic Games Store, where you can now pick up a gratis copy of Oxenfree, letting this supernatural thriller live up to its title (or at least half of it... oxen not included). All that's required is a free account, and you can get this between now and April 4th, and they already reveal the next game they will hand out at that time will be The Witness. This is not the first time Oxenfree has been part of a giveaway, as GOG.com also handed it out in late 2017. Here's a refresher on the game:
Choose Your Fate…
Oxenfree is a supernatural thriller about a group of friends who unwittingly open a ghostly rift. Play as Alex, a bright, rebellious teenager who brings her new stepbrother Jonas to an overnight party on an old military island. The night takes a terrifying turn when you unwittingly open a ghostly gate spawned from the island’s cryptic past. How you deal with these events, your peers, and the ominous creatures you’ve unleashed is up to you.

YOU determine every aspect of Alex's story while exploring Edwards Island, uncovering the base's dark past, and changing the course of your friends' lives.

Created by Night School Studio

Valve Teases Index VR Headset

A post on Steam has a tease from Valve of Valve Index, which looks like a new virtual reality headset. There's not much more than an image of the HMD, but we should know more soon enough, as the caption reads: "Upgrade your experience. May 2019."

Valve Plans Artifact Overhaul

An announcement on Steam has Valve's take on Artifact, which admits to disappointment in how the deck-building game turned out. They are taking on the challenge of improving the game, saying that for the time being they will focus more on the big picture than shipping updates. Here's the plan:
When we launched Artifact, we expected it would be the beginning of a long journey, that it would lay the foundation for years to come. Our plan was to immediately dive into our normal strategy of shipping a series of updates driven by the dialogue community members were having with each other and with us.

Obviously, things didn't turn out how we hoped. Artifact represents the largest discrepancy between our expectations for how one of our games would be received and the actual outcome. But we don't think that players misunderstand our game, or that they're playing it wrong. Artifact now represents an opportunity for us to improve our craft and use that knowledge to build better games.

Since launch, we've been looking carefully at how players interact with the game as well as gathering feedback. It has become clear that there are deep-rooted issues with the game and that our original update strategy of releasing new features and cards would be insufficient to address them. Instead, we believe the correct course of action is to take larger steps, to re-examine the decisions we've made along the way regarding game design, the economy, the social experience of playing, and more.

So what does this mean?

Moving forward, we'll be heads-down focusing on addressing these larger issues instead of shipping updates. While we expect this process of experimentation and development to take a significant amount of time, we’re excited to tackle this challenge and will get back to you as soon as we are ready.

Anno 1800 Becoming an Epic Games Store Exclusive

The Steam Listing for Anno 1800 reveals that the next installment in this strategy series is becoming another of those Epic Games Store exclusives (thanks DSOGaming). This is another of those awkward deals, as the game was, and still is, available for preorder through Steam. They say preorders will be honored, but that they will no longer sell the game once it is released on April 16th. Here's word:
Notice: Sales of Anno 1800 will be discontinued on Steam after April 16th due to a publisher decision to make the game exclusive to another PC store.

The publisher has assured us that all prior sales of the game on Steam will be fulfilled on Steam, and Steam owners will be able to access the game and any future updates or DLC through Steam.

We apologize to Steam customers that were expecting it to be available for sale after the April 16th release date.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider - The Grand Caiman Released

Shadow of the Tomb Raider - The Grand Caiman is now available on Steam, offering new DLC for Shadow of the Tomb Raider. A new trailer follows the "show don't tell" edict, but for those who prefer to be told, we have all sorts of that to share as well:
In Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s new DLC, a ferocious deity threatens the lives of innocent San Juan villagers. To save them, Lara will battle a deadly group of mercenaries in order to prevent a cataclysmic disaster. Solve the new volcanic challenge tomb and reap its powerful rewards.

Survive the latest DLC with the Reptile Hide outfit, which heightens resistance against projectiles and boosts XP gained from assault kills. Players can also equip the Whispering Scourge, a suppressed shotgun, as well as the Volcano skill that enables crafting incendiary shotgun ammo, which sets flammable objects and most enemies ablaze. All tombs from the main campaign are all now playable in Score Attack and Time Attack mode.
Continue here to read the full story.

Unheard Sounds Off

NEXT Studios announces the release of Unheard, their detective game with an ironic title, since the main source of clues to its narrative puzzles is what you hear. This trailer offers a look and a listen at the game and its concept. This is available for Windows on Steam with a 27% launch discount off its already modest $6.99 USD price tag. Want to know more? Stay a while, and listen:
NEXT Studios is pleased to announce that their audio drama-inspired detective game Unheard is now available on Steam. The narratively driven puzzle game will take players on an audiocentric journey to uncover crimes of the past.

In Unheard, players will follow a detective who relies solely on the sense of sound to solve crimes. Players will eavesdrop on conversations of past crimes and piece together evidence to build their cases as they follow an array of characters. Free to experience the story as they wish, players will be able to travel back and forth through time to witness events and conversations between characters in a non-linear fashion.

Uniquely presented and inspired by classic radio dramas, Unheard combines the exploration mechanics of modern games with the narrative theater of old. As players unfold the story in Unheard, they will discover the identities, moves, and motives of a cast of characters entirely through sound. What may seem to be completely unrelated events and characters, will unfurl into a broader and interwoven narrative for players to discern.
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Grave Keeper Released

Grave Keeper is now available for Windows on Steam, offering a hack-and-slash action/RPG that will also be coming to Switch before this summer. This carries a 20% launch discount, which is good for the next week. This trailer provides a look at the game in action, and the announcement explains all:
Grave Keeper is a hack'n'slash type of game, in which the action is set in a world of fantasy – the bounty hunter makes it to the Forbidden Stronghold, where great treasures are awaiting him. However, getting them is not possible without defeating hordes of diverse opponents and facing the Skeleton King.
“The title combines together mechanisms known from various games. We are talking about here traditional elements for hack'n'slash but also features associated with idle/clicker type games. The purpose was to create a gameplay experience that is not too complicated and at the same time can offer many hours of good fun” says developer Paweł Waszak.
As Paweł Waszak explains, the combat system includes melee, distance and areas attacks. There are also passive skills and equipment, including weapons and armor. It is highly diversified. Some of the items also have unique properties – e.g. automatic regeneration of health or the possibility of poisoning enemies.
In the game by Baldur Games studios, players will find things like 3 game modes, 8 different locations, 14 basic types of enemies (e.g. demons, skeletons and zombies), 9 bosses (also in the elite version), the Skeleton King and over 110 items.

Main features of Grave Keeper:

  • dynamic gameplay;
  • 3 game modes;
  • diverse missions;
  • daily tasks;
  • 14 types of enemies;
  • 9 bosses (also in the elite version);
  • undefeated Skeleton King;
  • over 110 different items (including swords, axes, crossbows and armor);
  • system of improving items and acquiring new skills.

Continue here to read the full story.

PUBG Names and Shames RoC Violators

A post on Steam from PUBG Corp discusses distribution of rewards for Survivor Title System Season in PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS. They also discuss consequences for "a small number of players abused the system in an attempt to unfairly gain a higher rank and more rewards." In an unusual move, they actually name and shame these RoC Violators. They say they will take measures to further ensure fair gameplay going forward:
Removing season rewards is just the first step we’re taking against players who’ve abused the system to advance and gain more rewards than they could obtain fairly. Additional measures will follow if more severe or further violations against the Rules of Conduct are identified.

We will be implementing additional measures to ensure fair gameplay and prevent abuse during ‘Survival Title System Season 3’and beyond. Additionally, we’ll continue to enhance monitoring of misconduct, including the sale and use of unauthorized programs.

The Dark Pictures – Man of Medan Video Diary

A new video developer diary #2, part 1 for The Dark Pictures – Man of Medan is titled The Watery Grave, as it features developers of the upcoming seafaring game discussing the effort that's going into accurately modeling the sound and motion of the ocean. Here's a more detailed explanation:
Developing a truly eerie and scary video game is no easy feat. The development team at Supermassive Games are masters of delivering fright and chills that are sure to make players jump out of their seats and scream with delight.

Take a behind the scenes look at the development of The Dark Pictures - Man of Medan in today’s Developer Diary entitled A Watery Grave. In this chapter, we dive into the art of creating motion and sound to immerse players in The Dark Pictures - Man of Medan's world. From detailed boat movement animations that correspond with character movement on the boat, to recording actual sounds of a boat traveling at speed and crashing against the waves, realism and accuracy work in concert to take players into the game world and provide heart pounding moments for players to enjoy.
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Tropico 6 Released

Tropico 6 is now available for Windows and Linux following a couple of delays along the way. The management sequel is also coming to "soon" to macOS and will arrive on consoles this summer. This will allow players to once again strap on their boots and beards to take on the role of El Presidente, the sometimes benevolent dictator of the island paradise of Tropico. The news is accompanied by a release trailer with an overview of the game (including El Presidente's take on Bohemian Rhapsody) and video developer diary titled "Leading a franchise to greatness." Here's the announcement:
The wait is finally over, the borders are open and El Presidente welcomes you to visit the island paradise of Tropico. Kalypso Media and Limbic Entertainment are thrilled to announce that Tropico 6, the latest instalment in the critically acclaimed Tropico franchise, launches today globally for Windows PC and Linux (with the Mac version following soon).

With Penultimo busy grooming prize llama Hector for the Presidential parade to celebrate Tropico 6’s glorious launch, the loyal citizens over at Kalypso HQ have been busily editing El Presidente’s welcome trailer for your enjoyment. So click on the links below and take a sun-drenched trip along Tropico’s beautiful sandy beaches and almost dormant volcanos (there’s only a 65% chance of an eruption in the coming weeks) by clicking on the links below.

El Presidente is back! In times of political turmoil and social unrest, the people are calling out for a visionary leader, one who will steer the fate of their country with foresight and ingenuity. Prove yourself once again as a feared dictator or peace-loving statesman on the island state of Tropico and shape the fate of your nation through four distinctive eras. Face new challenges on the international stage and always keep the needs of your people in mind.

For the first time in the series, manage extensive archipelagos, build bridges to connect your islands and use new means of transportation and infrastructure. Send your Tropicans on raids to steal the wonders of the world, including the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. Customize your palace at will and give election speeches from your balcony, to win the favor of your subjects.

Tropico 6 is released globally via digital platforms today for Windows PC and Linux (Mac to follow soon) and as a boxed retail edition across UK, Europe and export territories with the North American boxed edition releasing on 2nd April. Console versions are set to follow in summer 2019 on PlayStation®4 and Xbox One.
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Assassin's Creed III Remastered Released

Ubisoft announces that Assassin's Creed III Remastered is now available for Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. This offers the chance to return to the 18th century by way of 2012 with an updated version of this installment in the stealth/action series that includes the game and all its DLC in remastered 4K/HDR glory. You can pick up a copy of this through the Ubisoft Store and get a look at the improvements to the game in this trailer. Here's word on the release, which says a version of this for the Switch is expected in May:
Today, Ubisoft announced that Assassin’s Creed® III Remastered, including Assassin’s Creed® Liberation Remastered, is now available on the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, the Xbox One family of devices including Xbox One X, and Windows PC. Additionally, all solo DLCs from the original game will be included: Benedict Arnold Missions, Hidden Secrets and Tyranny of King Washington.

Developed by Ubisoft Barcelona, Assassin’s Creed® III Remastered features single-player content in 4K and HDR on PlayStation®4 Pro, Xbox One X and Windows PC. The vision was to bring this classic game to match the quality of the current Assassin’s Creed games by taking advantage of newer technology. With increased model improvements and Physically-Based Rendering (PBR), Assassin’s Creed III Remastered displays more visually accurate images using real world light and material properties that make the world feel more alive.

Experience the Assassin’s Creed universe on the eve of the American Revolution and play as Connor, the warrior son of a Native American mother and British father. As the bloody revolution draws near, your clan is threatened by a powerful group seeking to crush the American Revolution and control the thirteen colonies. After the devastation of your village, you pledge your life to preserve freedom. Unleash your deadly skills in a decades-long quest that will take you from the chaotic city streets to blood-soaked battlefields in the hostile American wilderness and beyond. Explore colonial Boston, New York, the frontier and various epic naval missions, meeting legendary American heroes as you conspire to annihilate all those who threaten Liberty.

Assassin’s Creed III Remastered includes Assassin’s Creed Liberation Remastered, which tells the unforgettable journey that takes Aveline from the crowded streets of New Orleans to voodoo-haunted swamps and ancient Mayan ruins. Assassin’s Creed III Remastered is available for $39.99 or as part of the Assassin’s Creed® Odyssey Season Pass. Additionally, Assassin’s Creed III Remastered will be available on the Nintendo Switch™ system starting May 21.
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S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 Re-Re-Announced

A new tweet from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Official announces S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 for release in 2021, or as they put it the shooter sequel is A. N. N. O. U. N. C. E. D. for release in 2.0.2.1., because periods. This is actually a re-re-announcement of a new installment in this irradiated series, as this project has been buffeted by the turbulence surrounding the shutdown of original developer GSC Game World. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 was first announced in 2010 before news in 2012 that development was "frozen." Then came the news last May that a reformed GSC Game World was resuming the project, and they further teased this last month. They now announce the game once again, and while we assume this will involve a new foray into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, it may just be someone is trying to win a bet over how many times the same project can be announced. There's certainly plenty of time to repeat this process a bunch more times over the next two years. Keep an eye on the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 Website for details and perhaps additional official announcements of this game.

JetX Next Month

Publisher Fibrum Limited and developer Singularity Lab announce an April 11th release date for JetX, a 6DoF racing and arena game with virtual reality support for Windows. This promises a blend of flying, driving, and shooting with support for players to compete in the same game whether they are viewing the game through a virtual reality headset or a traditional monitor. You can find all you need to know about this on the JetX Website and its Steam listing, and see the game in action in this trailer. Here are more details:
JetX features sci-fi arcade racing combined with arena shooter gameplay, unique flying mechanics, and intense PvP battles. Players in JetX will enjoy extreme speed, dynamic combat, and epic arena battles, all while playing the many different game modes. Whether you race against other players or compete against bots, a real challenge awaits you in the battle for the first place!

By combining racing with PvP battles held in zero gravity, players are required to control all three dimensions in order to excel in JetX. While playing JetX, the combination of high-speed racing and intense combat is sure to remind players of the glory days of arena shooters, where player skill reigned supreme and competitiveness coursed through their veins.

Keeping with the best traditions of combat racing, players will also have access to a wide variety of weapons, and while racing will be able to find different power-ups that will help them win the race and destroy their enemies.

JetX unique points:

  • Various game modes, from classic deathmatch, to the unique endless-race, and boss fights
  • Full freedom of movement in zero gravity
  • High level of old-school competitivity
  • Live leaderboard
  • AI that isn’t to be underestimated! An exciting game is guaranteed, even when playing offline
  • Wide choice of weapons for all types of players
  • Numerous diverse maps for racing and PvP
  • Play solo or with friends!

Continue here to read the full story.

Ash Williams Joining Dead by Daylight Next week

Dead by Daylight is getting new DLC next week to add Ash Williams from the Evil Dead series as a playable character to this action/horror game. The character will be voiced by Bruce Campbell, Ash's alter-ego, and he will come to the game via a new DLC release slated for April 2nd, lest we mistake this for an April Fools joke. The news is presented by developer Behavior Digital and Lionsgate, the studio behind Ash vs Evil Dead, and despite several Evil Dead movies, the TV show is the only property referenced in the announcement, so this may have been planned as promotion for the show before the news came down last year that STARZ was cancelling the show. This trailer (NSFW) features Campbell promoting the news along with a look at Ash in action in the game. Besides the iconic character and his boomstick, Behavior also announce plans to integrate the GameOn Tournament Organizer Twitch extension into the game to support casual streaming competitions. Here's all you need to know:
Behaviour® and global content leader Lionsgate (NYSE:LGF.A, LGF.B) are taking PAX East by storm today by announcing a new survivor for the game Dead by Daylight®: the demon hunter par excellence, Ash Williams, from the acclaimed STARZ Original Series Ash vs Evil Dead. The new survivor will be available in-game on April 2nd. The Montreal-based studio also worked with Amazon to implement GameOn Tournament Organizer, a Twitch extension that empowers streamers to build and engage with their community by generating casual competitions inside the Twitch experience.

A NEW SURVIVOR: ASH WILLIAMS FROM ASH VS EVIL DEAD
Ash Williams arrives as the blowhard heroic monster fighter. 30 years after encountering creatures of unspeakable evil that cost him his hand he returned in Ash vs Evil Dead as America’s oldest one-handed stock boy. Now, he’s back again in Dead by Daylight.

This DLC includes:

  • One Survivor and Perks: Ash Williams

Ash Williams will be available in the in-game store on PC through Steam and other digital distribution channels and on PlayStation 4® and XBOX One on April 2nd.

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Get the Old Heave Ho This Summer

Publisher Devolver Digital and developer Le Cartel announce plans to give us the old heave ho, or rather the new Heave Ho, as this is the title of a swinging new platformer coming to PC and Switch. This trailer shows off the game's mechanics and support for up to four player cooperative gameplay. Here's word on plans to show this off all weekend at PAX East and release it in the summer:
Independent developer Le Cartel and Francophile game label Devolver Digital have announced Heave Ho, a physics-based local multiplayer adventure across an impossibly wide ravine. Heave Ho is playable at PAX East this weekend at Booth #18096 on a 20-foot 4K screen, and will likely be at every other event of note on its way to a Summer 2019 launch on Nintendo Switch and Steam.

Heave Ho unites up to four players with a simple goal – don’t fall to your death. Grapplers will use their own two hands and the outstretched grip of their friends to swing, fling, and soar across each level on their way to victory.

Grab one another’s hands, climb across dangling bodies, and swing your pals to safety in a wobbly, dangly mass of limbs. Customize your character with all manner of stylish accessories and zany accouterment in a vain attempt to remember who you are and which of your hands is the only thing between you and the plummet of doom.
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Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Complete Game of Thrones Recap: Every Episode in 12 Minutes is a handy aide with Season 8 set to kick off in just under three weeks. This seems pretty helpful, as 70 episodes is a pretty rough homework assignment for a television series. And I already have one of those on my plate, albeit a shorter one, as the Deadwood movie is due at the end of May. It's been far longer since I watched the original series and I am determined to re-watch it before then. Sadly the show only lasted three seasons, but on the bright side this means I only have 36 episodes of that to plow through to get into the groove.

R.I.P.: Agnès Varda Dead: Acclaimed French Director Was 90.

Groovy Links: Thanks Ant.
Links: Restaurants You Didn't Know Changed Their Names.
Stories: Zack Snyder confirms that the Justice League Snyder cut is real and "done."
Why Pedestrian Deaths Are At A 30-Year High. Thanks RedEye9.
Garfield phones beach mystery finally solved after 35 years. Thanks Slashdot.
Science: NASA’s Hubble spotted an asteroid spinning so fast it’s self-destructing.
NASA proves its space helicopter can fly on Mars. You had me at space helicopter.
Why the sexes don’t feel pain the same way. Thanks Simon.
Media: The Most Dangerous Dams. Damn!
Hail From Hell. Damn!
Hidden Camera Catches Cat Comforting Anxious Dog While Family's Away. Who's a good kitty?
Follow-up: Kentucky Governor Misguides on Chickenpox. Thanks RedEye9.
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