Archived News:

Friday, Sep 20, 2019

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Open Beta

The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Multiplayer PC Beta is now open to all. This is available through Battle.net where a free account is required. This post has details on how to get started, and how to opt-in for Crossplay if you wish to do battle with your console brothers in arms. For more on what's going on in the beta, turn to the Activision Games Blog. Here's their overview:
Get an early look at a collection of several maps and modes Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has to offer before it releases on October 25. Be among the first to experience the intense multiplayer action, ranging from the quick, close quarter 2v2 Gunfight mode, to traditional 6v6 multiplayer gameplay and larger player count firefights. Try new gameplay mechanics, including bullet penetration, gun mounting, door breaching and night vision multiplayer gameplay maps featuring night vision goggles (NVGs) that allow for an amazing tactical experience.

Control Exclusivity Cost Epic $10M+?

Market Analyst Daniel Ahmad tweets about an Italian Financial Statement that seems to show just how much cash Epic Games had to fork over to make Control an Epic Games Store exclusive (thanks PCGamesN). He says this shows a payment to the parent company of 505 Games for €9.49 million ($10.5M USD). A response tweet from Danilo helps confirm the conclusion with some further translation: "It is explicitly stated in the report that the earnings from Control are derived from the digital marketplace that requested exclusivity for its distribution." Here are Ahmad's two tweets on the topic:
Digital Bros, parent company of 505 Games, has disclosed that they received a payment of 9.49 million euro from Epic Games for Control.

Which I would imagine is for exclusivity.

55% of that payment going to 505 Games.

Report here: https://digitalbros.com/wp-content/upl...
[…]
Yep. The payment from Epic was 100% for Control and was for the exclusivity deal. There was no payment from Sony or Microsoft.

Unclear if there were any other strings attached to the payment, other than exclusivity ofc.

Ghost Recon Breakpoint Beta Improvements

The Ghost Recon Website discusses improvements being made for the open beta testing of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint that begins on September 26th (thanks Dark). They detail the changes being made following the closed beta for the tactical shooter and include some before-and-after gifs showing them off in action. They conclude with a section covering a couple of PC-specific changes and some improvements planned for after the game's launch:
PC

  • The options for textures on PC now has better resolution.
  • Better options offered to let players choose between visual quality vs. frame rate.

We will be adding continuous improvements to the game at launch, which will include:

  • Weapon audio improvements.
  • Debug of vehicle entry interaction.
  • Better camera consistency with the main character.
  • Improved audio cues when concealed, hit, injured, etc.
  • Improved audio on vehicles.
  • Slower vehicles (like SUVs) speed increased.

Borderlands 3 Halloween Event Detailed

The Borderlands Website has details on Bloody Harvest, the Halloween event for Borderlands 3. Here's word on the tricks and treats this will bring to Gearbox Software's just-released action/RPG sequel:
Get ready to bust some ghosts this October when the Bloody Harvest event takes over Borderlands 3. On the first episode of The Borderlands Show, Borderlands 3 Creative Director Paul Sage joined hosts Greg Miller and Fran Mirabella from Kinda Funny for a look at the creepy content coming in the Bloody Harvest event.

Everyone can take part in Bloody Harvest when it goes live in October, as it's the first of many free updates and events you can expect from Borderlands 3. For the duration of the event, any Vault Hunters who have departed Pandora for the first time and started exploring the far reaches of space aboard Sanctuary III will start to encounter Haunted enemies around the galaxy. These Haunted enemies are your key to accessing a new event-specific map, but watch out—the Ghosts that rise from the bodies of slain Haunted enemies will do their best to scare you to death. Coming into contact with one of these aggressive apparitions will induce the new Terror debuff, which partially shrouds your vision in a mysterious mist and weakens your gun handling, accuracy, and spread. As you explore the ghost-infested galaxy, you'll earn Hecktoplasm that can be turned in to Maurice, your scaly new pal who's taken residence aboard Sanctuary III.

Once you've earned entry into the Bloody Harvest map, beware: dreadful dangers abound at every turn. Look to the shadowy sky and you'll see winged Rakk-O'-Lanterns soaring through the air, eager to swoop down and breathe fire in your face. Tread lightly through a ghastly graveyard crawling with Maliwan goons who've reserved a burial plot just for you. Resist the urge to retch as you fight through a Ratch-infested pit with rivers of blood running through it.

Should you survive these blood-curdling battles, you'll come face to skull with the Baron of Bloody Harvest himself. If you've been braving the many planets of Borderlands 3's story campaign, you might remember facing off against Captain Traunt, a gigantic Maliwan heavy soldier with some killer elemental attacks. He's back, albeit a bit bonier, as Captain Haunt, complete with some spooky new powers. Any who dare to enter the domain of this monstrous, bone-headed boss should be ready for one hell of a fight.

Of course, Bloody Harvest is also the perfect time to rock some costumes, and you'll be able to earn some new cosmetic rewards during the event. All told, you can add an ECHO Device Skin, a Weapon Trinket, a skin for each of the four Vault Hunters (which also apply to Moze's mech Iron Bear and Fl4K’s pets), and ultimately a Global Weapon Skin to your collection if you dedicate yourself to destroying the undead. There's also new Legendary loot to farm, including two guns and a shield that play into the new Terror mechanic, as well as a grenade mod. Additionally, new Anointed loot drops from Haunted enemies, Ghosts, and Captain Haunt will have a chance to have Terror-based modifiers.

Overland Released

Overland is now available for Windows, macOS, and Linux on Steam, offering a turn-based survival game where you take a group of travelers on a post-apocalyptic road-trip across the United States. The Launch Trailer takes a look at gameplay, and the announcement fills us in:
Take care of a group of travelers on a post-apocalyptic road-trip across the United States in this turn-based survival game. Fight scary creatures, rescue stranded survivors, and scavenge for supplies like fuel, first aid kits, and weapons. Decide where to go next, whether it's upgrading this wrecked car, or rescuing that dog. Just remember, there are consequences for every action. Get ready for close calls, dramatic escapes, hard choices, arguing about whether or not that dog gets rescued, and the end of the world.

Features:

  • Always keep fuel in the tank. Stay away from the creatures. Be careful. Be quiet.
  • Loud sounds attract trouble, and there's no way you can fight them all. Grab as much gas as you can, rescue that trapped stranger, and get back in the car before it's too late.
  • Travel West, through grasslands, over mountains, across deserts, and to even stranger places. Every level, roadmap, and character is randomly generated, so each trip is new.
  • Equip dozens of items, including medkits, shields, axes, potted plants, scavenged armor, and luggage racks.
  • A completely new end of the world from Finji (Canabalt, Night in the Woods).

Continue here to read the full story.

Hot Lava Flows Out

Do you feel like a good game of the floor is lava but mom won't let you play on the couch? Then you're in luck, because Hot Lava is now available on Steam, offering the first Windows simulation we can recall of this beloved childhood pastime. Here's the Official Launch Trailer, and here's the hot word:
Hot Lava transports you back to your childhood imagination. Relive those moments of excitement, joy, and chaos. Run, jump, climb, and surf in first person across nostalgia-packed environments flooded with hot molten lava. Explore alone, or join your friends. This is a game of dexterity and ingenuity, you will have to use all your skills to complete the treacherous obstacles that await.
And whatever you do… Don’t Touch The Floor

Features

  • Together: Conquer challenging worlds with up to eight friends with drop in-drop out multiplayer.
  • Traverse: Run, jump, climb, swing, boost, and surf in first person across lava filled worlds. Mastering execution will take dedication and skill.
  • Explore: Detailed environments jam packed with childhood nostalgia.
  • Compete: To find the fastest route using shortcuts and expert execution on the friends leaderboard.
  • Avoid: lava, toxic waste, bottomless pits, and crushers. Danger is around every corner.
  • Create: Hot Lava comes with a level construction kit for Unity. Share your creations on the Steam Workshop.

Continue here to read the full story.

Truck the System Rolls Out

Steam now offers Early Access to Truck the System, a Windows game that allows you to live the dream of constructing your own weapon-laden combat truck and truck things up good. Here's an Early Access Trailer with a look at gameplay, and here are some trucking details:
Truck the System. Build your truck from over 40 parts, and then race it through community-made tracks. Dodge missiles and gunfire as you loop the loop and hit the stunt ramps.

Vehicle Builder

  • Over 40 parts. A virtually infinite number of possible truck designs
  • Quick and easy. Build a working truck in a minute
  • Powerful. Create complex trucks with multiple weapons systems
  • Optional. You can use a pre-made truck or a truck made by another player if you're not feeling creative
  • Adjustable. Modify your truck in the middle of a race

Weapons

  • Huge variety of melee and ranged weapons
  • Choose from rockets, sniper rifles, lasers, miniguns and more
  • Add multiple weapons to your truck and switch between them during a race

In-Game Level Editor

  • Easy to use. Node-based editor allows you to quickly create curved tracks and tubes for players to race along
  • Parts-based. Place parts to create your level, including loop-the-loops, stunt ramps, enemy turrets and more.
  • Specify server settings to go along with your level, to create new game modes.
  • Pre-made terrains and environments make it easy to create a level which looks great.

Continue here to read the full story.

Op Ed

GamesIndustry.biz - Is it time to retire virtual currency?
"I suggest publishers look at virtual currency -- perhaps the Hawkeye to loot boxes' Hulk -- and seriously consider just how essential it is to their business. Because as bad a reputation as loot boxes have, virtual currency helps enable many of their most objectionable excesses. Loot boxes draw people's ire for obfuscating what players are buying, but virtual currency similarly hides what they're paying."

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Multi-Agent Hide and Seek.

Industry Group: Steam Refund Ruling Incorrect

The Interactive Software Federation of Europe has issued a statement about yesterday's news of a ruling by a French court that says Valve should be required to allow the resale of games and other media purchased on Steam. According to the ISFE this contradicts established EU law, and should be overturned on appeal:
Simon Little, CEO of ISFE, said: “This French ruling flies in the face of established EU law which recognises the need to protect digital downloads from the ease of reproduction allowed by the Internet. Far from supporting gamers, this ruling, if it stands, would dramatically and negatively impact investment in the creation, production and publication of, not just video games, but of the entire output of the digital entertainment sector in Europe. If Europe’s creators cannot protect their investments and their intellectual property, the impact on both industry and consumers will be disastrous.”

According to EU copyright law, when it comes to digital and streaming services, every use must be subject to the authorisation of the rightholder and copyright does not expire with their first sale, as it does with physical goods. Physical goods are subject to the “distribution right” and to the “exhaustion doctrine” which means that the purchaser has the right to resell the goods if they were first put on the market with the authorisation of the copyright owner. This is not the case with digital downloads which are subject to the “communication to the public right”, meaning that the purchaser does not have a right to sell them on, without the copyright owner’s permission.”

Shenmue III Backer Steam Key Plans Hazy

A new update on Kickstarter by Ys Net offers a "revision concerning PC option availability" for Shenmue III, their action/adventure sequel (thanks Siliconera). The announcement that the game would be an Epic Games Store exclusive for one year caused an uproar from backers who were originally promised Steam keys. This prompted an offer of refunds that also included word that backers would indeed receive their Steam keys once the EGS exclusivity expired. Now their new update says that their negotiations with Valve cast this plan in doubt:

Please note the following revision concerning PC option availability.

In the previous Update On PC Version Rewards, the following option for the PC (Epic Games Store) version was announced:

"If selecting either the PC Physical or PC Digital version, an option to also receive a Steam key one year later will be available."

As negotiations with Valve are ongoing, we are not able to make a firm commitment at this point concerning the availability of the Steam keys.

Requests for Steam keys will be accepted through the survey, however, there is the possibility that Steam keys will ultimately not be distributed depending on negotiations with Valve. An announcement will be posted in the updates with the outcome of the negotiations.

We apologize for this revision to the previously stated PC option.

Beta Files Support Modern Warfare Battle Royale Speculation

Charlie INTEL reports that examining the files for the PC beta for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reveals "many" references to a battle royale mode, sure to be a relief to gamers concerned that the shooter remake would not support this fad. They note a tweet from TheGamingRevolution that says: "There we have it, Battle Royale is mentioned in the code of Modern Warfare. This must be the money / plunder system I was talking about. Send this to any of the naysayers." They say they have independently confirmed this finding:
CharlieIntel has been able to verify that there are numerous Battle Royale (BR) references across the PC Beta files in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Activision has not officially confirmed a Battle Royale mode for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Football Manager 2020 Preorders Get Headstart

Sports Interactive and SEGA reveal new features for Football Manager 2020, the next installment in their association football/soccer series. They say to expect a focus on long-term planning and development to add more depth to playing multiple seasons. The official website has detailed articles on each of the following features: the Development Centre, Club Vision, Graphic Improvements, Backroom Staff, and a Playing Time Pathway. They also provide a SEGA Approved Partner List to preorder the game, saying preorder customers will get a headstart on the wait-and-see crowd:
Fans who pre-purchase Football Manager 2020 (for PC and Mac), from a SEGA approved digital retailer* (or pre-order from a participating physical retailer) up until launch will receive a 10% discount. Additionally, those who pre-purchase through a SEGA approved digital retailer will be able to get their managerial careers underway early through a fully-playable Beta version, which will be available roughly two weeks prior to the official street date (single player careers started in the Beta can be carried across to the full game). The pre-release Beta will not be available on Stadia.

Hell of Men: Blood Brothers Early Access Next Week

Hell of Men: Blood Brothers is coming on September 23rd to Steam Early Access. This will offer the chance to experience some alternate-history where the Cold War heats up in this strategy game from indie developer Whacky Squad Studio. They say they expect Early Access to last about six months, and this trailer shows what to expect. Here's more:
NATO vs Russia war-themed real-time strategy game Hell of Men: Blood Brothers will be released on Monday, September 23 on Steam.

Hell of Men: Blood Brothers presents an imaginary conflict in which NATO forces are concerned about Russia's annexation of Ukraine. Lead two brothers through 6 different missions to fight against the Russian army.

“Hell of Men: Blood Brothers features realistic gameplay mechanics”, says Dylan Ganuchaud, CEO at Whacky Squad Studio.

Hell of Men: Blood Brothers contains 4 additional game modes: solo campaign, solo skirmish, cooperative, and multiplayer for up to 4 players. The game will be available in Early Access for 6 months approximately.

Features

  • Real-time strategy.
  • NATO vs Russia World War III context
  • Innovative mechanics that reward thoughtful and strategic players.
  • Simulation: cover system for infantry, class combinations, vehicles with firepower...
  • Environment domination.
  • 4 game modes: solo, solo skirmish, Cooperative, and multiplayer

Continue here to read the full story.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered Released

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered is now available for Windows on Steam, and the action/RPG remake is also out for PlayStation 4, while the original is out on Switch. The Launch Trailer offers a look at the game and the graphical improvements over the original, which was released way back in 2013. Here's the elevator pitch:
Developed by LEVEL-5, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch’s tale unfolds through animation storyboarded and created by the legendary Studio Ghibli, with music composed by award-winning musician Joe Hisaishi. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch tells the charming yet tragic story of Oliver, a young boy who embarks on a journey to another world—one filled with familiars and foes—in hopes of bringing back his mother following a tragic incident. With a copy of the Wizard’s Companion book in hand and trusted friend Drippy by his side, Oliver must traverse exotic lands to tame familiars and take on malevolent foes. With his newly formed team of friends and familiars, it’s up to Oliver to overcome the challenges of personal growth and fierce enemies in order to save his mom.
Continue here to read the full story.

The Sojourn Released

Publisher Iceberg Interactive and developer Shifting Tides have released The Sojourn for PC and consoles, offering a puzzle game with a colorful/shadowy mechanic that's shown off in this Launch Trailer. The Windows edition is available through the Epic Games Store. You can learn all about this on the official website. Here's a quick look:
Played in the first-person, this thought-provoking, philosophical title provides a refreshing, unique take on the puzzle genre. In The Sojourn, you arrive in a mysterious land, where enchanting lights guide you forward. Soon, the world reveals itself to be one full of dichotomous challenges. It is up to you to overcome these intricate and ever more demanding obstacles in order to uncover the true nature of reality.

KEY FACTS

  • Beautiful, ethereal world to explore: four hand-crafted chapters, each with distinct styles and atmospheres.
  • 10+ hours of gameplay.
  • Evolving and rich first-person puzzle mechanics.
  • Philosophical, thoughtful narrative.

Continue here to read the full story.

The Deed II Announced

Publisher GrabTheGames and developer Pilgrim Adventures announce The Deed II, a noir crime game set to do the deed later this year on Steam. This carries a mature content description that promises violence and sexy time: "This game deals heavily with the theme of vengeful murder. Most of the story takes place in a 1930s brothel, so it contains sexual references as well as semi-nudity (male and female)." This Steam Trailer sets the scene, and we have more details on what to expect:
Can you commit the perfect murder? Outside a brothel in 1930s Paris, a man recognises one of the orderlies who had cruelly abused him while he was in a mental asylum. Some deeds cannot be forgiven ...

In 1925, Kenneth Miller found himself committed to a mental asylum. Far from enjoying a period of psychological recovery, however, he and the other patients were tortured and abused every night by a group of sadistic orderlies.

Eight years later, during a trip to Paris, Miller is shocked when he recognises the very worst of those men - Frank Graceman - standing outside of a whorehouse. Is this unlikely meeting a mere coincidence, or some manner of twisted providence? In either case, he knows that he might never get a better opportunity to enact his revenge.
Continue here to read the full story.

Dragon Audit Announced

Dragon Audit is a comedic point-and-click adventure from Archive Entertainment coming to Steam and consoles. The Announcement Trailer offers a look, and if you really like what you see you can buy an Early Access version of the game directly from the developer through the Dragon Audit Website. Here's more:
In a world teeming with magic and danger, a city of accountants exists which has sequestered itself behind high walls and generally unacceptable accounting principles. A battle accountant there, George, is assigned the unenviable task of leaving the safety of the city in order to storm a nearby castle, slay the dragon, rescue the princess, and (most importantly) rescue the unpaid tax revenue. Meanwhile, Ayraw (the dragon), is tired of knights showing up to slay her, and is a bit jealous no one ever wants to rescue her. So she concocts a plan to trick George into rescuing her instead of rescuing the princess. Hijinks ensue as the two team up, the unlikely duo slowly growing closer through their shared adventure.

"In the spirit of classic adventure games, Dragon Audit combines lighthearted humor with the undertones of a serious story. You'll get to meet a cast of quirky characters, solve puzzles, find all sorts of jokes in the interactable 3D environment, and explore the backstories of our two protagonists," said Robby Zinchak, the writer and director of the project.
Continue here to read the full story.

Fortnite X Batman Reveal Tomorrow

The bat-signal has been spotted! A Fortnite X Batman Reveal is planned for tomorrow on YouTube, where users are already congregating to spam the chat with emotes. This confirms recent indications that the Dark Knight would make an appearance in Epic's battle royale/survival game. This carries the promise of an in-game reward for players who link their Epic accounts and attend the stream, which will kick off at 8:00 am EDT, a bracing 5:00 am wake-up call for those on the U.S. west coast.

Close Combat: The Bloody First Next Month

Slitherine announces Close Combat: The Bloody First will storm the shores of Steam on October 3rd to offer the newest installment in this military strategy series. This game is based on the World War II accomplishments of the U.S. First Infantry Division, famously nicknamed "The Big Red One." This will include three full campaigns, 11 operations, and 36 battles that travel from North Africa to Sicily to the beaches of Normandy, rendered in 3D using "a completely new real-time strategy engine." They celebrate the news with a new trailer, and also point the way to not one, not two, but three let's play videos where YouTubers take on the beta. Here's more on the plan:
Close Combat: The Bloody First is not an ordinary RTS: the action is fast, but you can always pause the game and issue new orders to your troops. This will allow you to recreate complex historical actions; pin down enemy nests with machine guns, flank them with fast infantry, cover your advance with smoke barrages, target the vulnerable side armour of the German Panzers with armour piercing weapons, scout enemy positions and unleash artillery or mortar fire before they see you.

Beware of enemy fire: your troops are heroic US infantrymen but they will panic under enemy fire if caught in the open with no cover. Morale and pressure are deadly weapons.

Multiplayer at its best: despite the Close Combat saga is a classic from the 90s, thousands of gamers still play it for its unparalleled realism in multiplayer battles roday. The Bloody First keeps up with the tradition and adds a wide variety of new options.
Continue here to read the full story.

Minecraft Adding Character Creator

A set of Minecraft Beta Patch Notes reveal that a new character creator function is coming to Minecraft (thanks VentureBeat). Here's word on how this will allow you to customize your blockhead avatar:
New Features:

  • Introducing the Minecraft Character Creator
    • Personalise your avatar in a number of ways, including body size and shape, limb replacement and tweaking of eyes, mouth, hairstyles and colours, facial hair and skin tones
    • More than 100 items will be available for free. There will also be a range of custom accessories, created by the Minecraft team, available for purchase
    • The Character Creator is currently available to beta testers, but will also roll out to Minecraft Earth, as well as all other Bedrock platforms like iOS and Nintendo Switch, once the beta has concluded
    • Traditional custom skins can still be imported as before, on Windows 10 and mobile, using the following steps: Profile > Edit Character > Classic Skins tab > Owned > Import > Choose New Skin

Op Ed

Forbes India - Star Citizen: The most expensive video game ever made.
"Chris Roberts has spent seven years and raised nearly $300 million—most of it from average gamers—building Star Citizen. It's on pace to be the costliest video game ever made and—outside of cryptocurrency—the world's largest crowdfunded project. It's still not ready. It may never be."

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Still waiting for the complete banishment of my recent bout with sciatica. The good news is that overall this has continually progressed in the right direction. The bad news is that this has been a fairly slow process with occasional setbacks. But it's been forever since I've needed Advil for this, and it's had an incredible positive impact on my posture. We're told all our lives to sit up straight, and I've always known this was a good idea, but it only took a couple of weeks of leg and back pain to condition me to start strictly following this advice. I'm going to consider this a positive, especially if it helps prevent a recurrence of the problem.

Recurrent Links: Thanks Ant.
Links: Company Socializing Has Become Work.
Stories: Climate strike: U.S. teens join worldwide protests.
The Dim Sum Chef Who Plays With His Dough. Thanks Neutronbeam.
Science: North American bird population has dropped by 3 billion since 1970, study reveals.
Asteroid breakup 466 million years ago may have triggered ice age. Thanks Max.
Fish waste used to make alternative to plastic.
New Proof Solves 80-Year-Old Irrational Number Problem. Thanks Neutronbeam.
Media: Getting hit by a slow-moving vehicle - The boop.
The Crown Season 3 - Teaser Trailer.
Snatch a Sabre! The Soviet Operation to Steal The Plane.
Follow-up: Two suspects arrested after $5 million gold toilet stolen from Britain's Blenheim Palace.
The Funnies: Matt Knight on Instagram.
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