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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

The Division 2 Free Weekend

Ubisoft announces the promised free weekend is underway for Tom Clancy's The Division 2, offering the chance to check out the game and its new Episode 2 update for nothing through October 20th. This video is from a livestream about the new content, and the announcement has all the details:
You can play The Division 2 for free this weekend, in celebration of the release of Episode 2: Pentagon—The Last Castle and a massive free update bringing wide-ranging improvements to all players. From now through October 20, you can download and play the full game on Xbox One (Xbox Live Gold required), PS4, and PC. Take to the conflict-ravaged streets of Washington, DC and fight against diverse enemy factions as you level-up your Agent, expand your arsenal, and explore the city in solo or co-op play with up to three other players. Any progress you make during the free weekend will carry over should you decide to purchase the game, which will be on sale for up to 70% on the PlayStation Store (Oct. 15-28), Microsoft Store (Oct. 17-27), Uplay Store (Oct. 17-28), and Epic Store (Oct. 17-20).
Continue here to read the full story.

GRIP: Combat Racing Gets DeLorean DLC and a Free Weekend

New DeLorean 2650 DLC is now available on Steam for GRIP: Combat Racing, offering the chance to go back to the past with this the game's version of this famous automobile, which sports at least as many modifications as Doc Brown's take on the car. This release comes on the launch of a free weekend for the Windows racing game on Steam, where it can be played for the next three days without taking your Steam Wallet out of your Steam Pocket. Here's a new trailer showing off the DeLorean 2650, and here's more on the plan:
DeLorean Motor Company, one of the most beloved car manufacturers in the galaxy, has injected its flagship vehicle into GRIP: Combat Racing. Armed, armoured, flippable and jet fuel-injected, it's the most souped-up DeLorean you will ever see – and pilot. It arrives in two forms: anti-grav AirBlades and regular four-wheeled roller. Check out the trailer below to see how the iconic ‘gull-wing’ doored sports car has been transformed for its debut on GRIP’s more than deadly tracks.

Inspired by Rollcage, and in partnership with key development team members from the original Rollcage, GRIP: Combat Racing has continued to fuel the racing appetite of arcade gamers around the world. A return to the hardcore combat scene of the 90s, bristling with heavy weapons and packing ferocious speed, the game is an intense, sensory feast. With a dedicated community and player numbers continually growing, GRIP: Combat Racing has seen a huge amount of content and updates since launch, with constant optimisation, new tracks and new playing modes having already been introduced.
Continue here to read the full story.

Crusader Kings II Free Weekend

Steam offers free weekend for another game, as Crusader Kings II can be played gratis for the next few days (thanks Ant). Here's a refresher on this Windows, macOS, and Linux grand strategy game:
The Dark Ages might be drawing to a close, but Europe is still in turmoil. Petty lords vie against beleaguered kings who struggle to assert control over their fragmented realms. The Pope calls for a Crusade to protect the Christians in the Holy Land even as he refuses to relinquish control over the investiture of bishops - and their riches. Now is the time for greatness. Expand your demesne and secure the future of your dynasty. Fill your coffers, appoint vassals, root out traitors and heretics, introduce laws and interact with hundreds of nobles, each with their own agenda.

A good lord will always need friends to support him. But beware, as loyal vassals can quickly turn to bitter rivals, and some might not be as reliable as they seem... Stand ready, and increase your prestige until the world whispers your name in awe. Do you have what it takes to become a Crusader King?
Crusader Kings II explores one of the defining periods in world history in an experience crafted by the masters of Grand Strategy. Medieval Europe is brought to life in this epic game of knights, schemes, and thrones...

Fallout 76 Private Servers Next Week; Wastelanders DLC Delayed

In a post on the Fallout Website, Bethesda announces that the Wastelanders is delayed, and this free expansion for Fallout 76 is now expected in Q1 of next year. They also reveal that their Private Worlds servers will go live next week, offering the chance to buy your own stomping ground. In addition they offer details on useful items that they plan to begin selling alongside cosmetics in the Atomic Shop and lay out a roadmap for the rest of the year and beyond. Here's word on the Wastelanders delay and the Private Worlds launch:
WASTELANDERS
We’ve been hard at work on Fallout 76 this year, including our biggest free update yet, Wastelanders. We’re excited about how Wastelanders is coming together but it’s going to need more time to be the best, most polished update it can be, so we are delaying its release to Q1 next year. We’ve continued to re-evaluate and change our processes to make sure the work we’re doing hits our quality bar, and yours. We apologize for this delay but know it will be worth the extra time.

Wastelanders is turning out to be one of the largest expansions we’ve ever done, and it changes the entire world with human NPCs returning. We’ll be sharing more details over time, but here’s a first look at some of what’s to come in Wastelanders.

PRIVATE WORLDS COMING SOON
We’re happy to announce our work on the service for private servers is complete and will be launching next week! The ability to play in your own private world with your friends has been the number one community-requested feature, and we’re thrilled it’s finally coming. Our goal for players who purchase this service is to offer something for everyone, not just those who want a private server. Additionally, in the future you’ll be able to mod your worlds. Stay tuned for more information on the service in the coming days.

Galactic Ruler Announced

BattleGoat Studios announces Galactic Ruler, a new real-time strategy game that will take the Supreme Ruler concept into space. Word is: "Players will now be able to expand their planetary battles into the space around their homeworld, and from their home system they can expand further within a custom-generated galaxy. The possibilities are endless with options for galaxy size, system density and a variety of alien races to play as or against." This will come through digital distribution in the second quarter of next year, and the game's Steam Listing is already online. Here's a Cinematic Teaser Trailer and here's more:
Galactic Ruler offers real-time strategy game play at both the planetary level and in space. Lead your faction in diplomacy or conquest across a unique galactic map where any system might hold hostile enemies or resource riches. Harness needed resources and develop advanced technology to rule the galaxy in the latest offering from BattleGoat Studios.

Game Features

  • Procedurally generated galaxies, systems and planets for a new and unique experience with each new game
  • Customizable galaxy size and density, supporting games featuring dozens of systems and hundreds of planets that can be explored and exploited
  • Develop your planets to gain the resources needed to grow your empire
  • Research improvements to your military, social and economic capabilities
  • Negotiate treaties and form alliances with alien factions
  • Trade with other factions to acquire the goods and weapons needed for your empire
  • Sophisticated Real-Time Strategic and Tactical control of your forces
  • Engage in large-scale planetary battles and epic space conflicts
  • Venture from your home planet to forge an empire of colonies all under your direct control
  • Choose your level of control - Make all decisions or use your AI to assist
  • Multiplayer support for up to 15 players

Continue here to read the full story.

Felix The Reaper Released

Felix The Reaper is now available for Windows, macOS, and consoles. This is described as "a romantic comedy about the life of Death," and the PC editions can be found on GOG.com and Steam. The Official Launch Trailer offers a look at dance and gameplay along with a listen to some elevator music, which is always welcome, as is the participation of Sir Patrick Stewart. Here's a rundown on the game, which makes it sound like a cross between The Seventh Seal and The Chronicles of Riddick:
Felix The Reaper is a puzzle game in which players alter events to end the lives of humans as ordered by the Ministry of Death. Like all reapers, Felix can only move in the shadows, but thankfully he can change the direction of the sun and move objects in a snap to create safe passage through increasingly devilish scenarios. Each destiny fulfilled gets Felix one step closer to his heart’s desire: Betty the Maiden from the Ministry of Life. This eccentrically surprising adventure features original music from a dozen independent musicians, as well as an intricate in-game database on the art and representation of Death throughout history.

Key Features:

  • A wonderfully original puzzle adventure with uniquely challenging gameplay set in a beautifully colorful, gruesomely sweet world.
  • Play as Felix, a loveable reaper with the heart of a dancer.
  • Over 20 story levels with hardcore difficulty variants for each, plus bonus unlockable time trials.
  • The renowned voice talent of Sir Patrick Stewart as Felix’s guide and superior.
  • Choose your own tunes on Felix‘s Walkman from a variety of indie music artists.
  • Watch Felix dance with exquisite moves developed by professional dancers.
  • Experience a fantastic world inspired by and showcasing nearly 1,000 years of art and storytelling depicting Death across multiple cultures.

Continue here to read the full story.

Need for Speed Heat Specs

Origin now offers system specifications for Need for Speed Heat, the now-gold continuation of the high-octane driving series (thanks DSOGaming). Here's what it will take to run the game:
MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS

OS:
Windows 10
Processor (AMD): FX-6350 or Equivalent
Processor (Intel): Core i5-3570 or Equivalent
Memory: 8 GB
Graphics card (AMD): Radeon 7970/Radeon R9 280x or Equivalent
Graphics card (NVIDIA): GeForce GTX 760 or Equivalent
DirectX: 11 Compatible video card or equivalent
Online Connection Requirements: 320 KBPS or faster Internet connection
Hard-drive space: 50 GB

RECOMMENDED REQUIREMENTS

OS:
Windows 10
Processor (AMD): Ryzen 3 1300X or Equivalent
Processor (Intel): Core i7-4790 or Equivalent
Memory: 16 GB
Graphics card (AMD): Radeon RX 480 or Equivalent
Graphics card (NVIDIA): GeForce GTX 1060 or Equivalent
DirectX: 11 Compatible video card or equivalent
Online Connection Requirements: 512 KBPS or faster Internet connection
Hard-drive space: 50 GB

Get Alan Wake’s American Nightmare and >observer_ for Free

The new freebies are now out on the Epic Games Store, where a Free Game Collection is now available offering copies of Alan Wake’s American Nightmare and >observer_. These are yours to keep if you pick them up over the next week. After that another Free Game Collection will take its place, offering Layers of Fear and Q.U.B.E. 2 at no charge. Here's more on this week's new giveaways:
Alan Wake’s American Nightmare
In this brand new standalone experience, Alan Wake fights the herald of darkness, the evil Mr. Scratch! A thrilling new storyline, hordes of creepy enemies, serious firepower and beautiful Arizona locations, combined with a fun and challenging new game mode make this a must for Alan Wake veterans, and the perfect jumping on point for new players!

What Would You Do if Your Fears Were Hacked?
You are Dan Lazarski, an elite neural detective known as an Observer, and part of a corporate-funded police unit whose purpose is to hack and invade suspects’ minds. In this future, anything you think, feel or remember can be used against you in a court of law.

Battlefield V Free Weekend

EA and DICE remind us that the next free trial weekend for Battlefield V is now underway on Origin. Here's a briefing on the battle plan:
Weekend 2: Infantry-Focused Conquest
Engaging in the flag-capping rumbles of Conquest is the most classic way to experience Battlefield’s all-out war. You’ll be able to try the mode on the infantry-focused maps Operation Underground, Rotterdam, Devastation, Marita, and Arras. Complete tasks to earn a coveted weekly reward: the Trench Carbine.

Red Dead Redemption 2 PC Trailer

The Rockstar Games Newswire now offers a new trailer from Red Dead Redemption 2 showing off the upcoming PC edition of the wild west shooter in all its 60 fps 4K resolution glory. Here's word:
Red Dead Redemption 2 for PC brings the epic story of Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang to life in breathtaking new ways – with no shortage of dazzling technical enhancements that deliver deeper immersion. These include increased draw distances, improved shadows and lighting, new grass and fur textures, and much more – complemented by a host of exciting new content additions for the game’s Story Mode.

Watch the new trailer above to see Red Dead Redemption 2 in stunning 4K/60 frames per second and see how packed full of new details and greater fidelity every corner of this vast open world is. From the claw marks of a passing bear at the base of a tree in Big Valley and the individual spines on a cactus in New Austin, to a train passing on a far horizon and embers sparkling in the New Hanover night sky.
Continue here to read the full story.

Tannenberg Gets Free Ukraine Map

M2H and Blackhill Games announce the release of a new map as a free update on Steam for Tannenberg, their World War I first-person shooter for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Seemingly inspired by today's real-world headlines, the new map adds Ukraine to the mix. Here's a trailer showing off some combat on the new map, and this post on Medium outlines some of the history of Ukraine and their efforts at accurately depicting it in the game. Here's word:
When building the Ukraine map for Tannenberg, one of the key elements was (surprise surprise) trenches! You might think that we would get bored of researching and modelling trenches, but in fact the variety of trenches used during the First World War is something most people don’t fully understand. You can see ‘typical’ trenches of the type most people would imagine in our Western Front game Verdun. On the Eastern Front though, there were several different styles of wooden trenches — in the Ukraine, these wattle trenches (seen in the images above and below) were common.
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Truck Driver Stalled

Publisher SOEDESCO and developer Kokku announce they are postponing the release of the Windows edition of Truck Driver, admitting that at this point the transportation simulation "does not meet their expectations." The console versions of this have already rolled out, but now they say it will be sometime next year before they get this show on the road on Steam. Here's more on the decision:
Throughout the development of Truck Driver for PC, it has been SOEDESCO’s goal to bring a pc game that offers a unique trucking experience. For now, this means that the game requires a little more development time in order to ensure the best result. As a part of this process, SOEDESCO will continue to work closely with the community. This has already resulted in, for example, steering wheel support. They want to deliver a more polished player experience that lives up to their vision. SOEDESCO is confident that the delay will make Truck Driver a gaming experience that is worth the wait.

Battle Planet - Judgement Day Released

Publisher Wild River Games and developer THREAKS now offer the release of Battle Planet - Judgement Day on Steam, offering a twin-stick shooter for Windows, PlayStation 4, and Switch. Word is: "Battle Planet - Judgement Day is a fast-action twin-stick roguelike shooter where you race around a variety of planets, battling seemingly endless waves of sci-fi-themed enemies." This is shown off in this GameplayTrailer which was released during the summer. The game boasts a soundtrack by famed game music composer Garry Shyman and the following features:
Battle Planet - Judgement Day is a planetary rogue-lite top-down shooter. You are one of the universe's 3 most wanted criminals on the run, fighting your way through hordes of aliens, military and police units. There is only one way to reclaim your freedom - destroy them all...

Escape a crashed prisoner transport ship and fight the authorities in a non-stop mayhem of blazing gunfire and planet destroying bombs sent to perforate you and the ground beneath your feet.

Doomed to be killed in a never ending loop, your trial of survival relies solely on your hardcore skills

  • couch co-op mode: die together in excessive sessions with friends
  • permanently upgrade your convict and the weapon arsenal after each run
  • battle your way through hordes of enemies designed to torment you
  • power up your ass with a load-out of perks
  • face bosses that have your controller buttons on their death list

Make them pay, to make sure today is NOT your judgement day.

Continue here to read the full story.

Monkey King: Hero is Back Released

THQ Nordic, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Oasis Games now offer Monkey King: Hero is Back, a martial arts game tie-in with the animated movie of the same name. This is available for Windows on Steam as either a Standard and a Deluxe Edition that each allow the player to "Dive into a 500 year old Chinese tale set in a world full of fun and action!" If it's good to be the king, then it's positively bananas to be the monkey king. Here's the Launch Trailer and here's some monkey business:
Kung-Fu. Adventure. Chinese mythology. A boy named Liuer. A Monkey King. A 500-year old Chinese tale. All combined in a fun, frantic, funny action-adventure set in a bright, detailed and adorable fantasy world. Explore Monkey King's hidden powers, engaging sense of humour, battling animal-like creatures and other-wordly bosses, all taken from the Chinese box office mega hit of the same name. Play out new never-before-seen side stories in this, the latest adaptation of the Journey to the West.

  • Combination of comical oriental ction and adventure
  • Simple controls and maneuverability
  • Unique and quirky weaponary
  • Easy - going pace
  • Family friendly difficulty levels
  • Learn special abilities and extraordinary moves
  • Fascinating blend of Chinese Mythology and Eastern Art
  • Never before seen episodes and hightlights from the movie

Continue here to read the full story.

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Months after our move, I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised with Xfinity so far, as things have gone well with my new ISP despite their less-than-stellar reputation. The only problems I've had playing games were two recent disconnections, but they aren't on Xfinity. Both of them were because the power company was messing with the wires, and I had failed to plug the router into one of the battery-powered outlets on my UPS. And just this morning I got a note about a free upgrade! My downloads already exceeded the 150 Mbps that I pay for, but with no prompting they boosted my minimum to 200 Mbps, and in testing it I see it's actually over 230 Mbps. So I'm now getting 65% more downstream bandwidth than I originally ordered, which is pretty spiffy. And as I say, things have been reliable along the way, which is a more important factor in the experience, so I have to give credit where it is due.

Obituary: Elijah Cummings, longtime Baltimore congressman, dies age 68.
Obituary: Patrick Day dies of brain injuries 4 days after knockout.

Xfinite Links: Thanks Ant.
Science: How Can a Star Be Older Than the Universe?
Watching ASMR Videos Can Feel So Good, But What's The Science Behind Them? Thanks RedEye9.
Excessive brain activity linked to a shorter life.
Media: Star Trek: Tribbles Cereal.
Footage shows world's fastest ants at top speed. Thanks RedEye9.
The Microscopic Circle of Life.
Follow-up: NASA paid SpaceX for safety review after Musk smoked pot. Thanks Hypothermia.
The Funnies: Instagram @nate_fakes.