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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

Get Bad North for Free

Bad North is now available for free on the Epic Games Store, as this Windows action/strategy game is their latest giveaway. You have a week to add this to your library to have it for keeps before their next freebie comes with the release of Rayman Legends. Here's some direction on Bad North:
Bad North is a beautifully-crafted, minimalistic, real-time tactics roguelite game where you lead a rag-tag group of island folk as they flee the relentless viking hordes. Progress through a series of procedurally-generated islands, fending off nordic raiders and gather what resources you can, before moving on to the next fight. Protect the nobles and commoners you meet along the way and recruit them to your cause - you'll need their numbers in the conflict to come.

And keep fighting. Not for power or riches or glory, but for the hope that one day you can live a peaceful life again.

Get Serial Cleaner for Free

Serial Cleaner is currently being offered for free from Humble Bundle, where they are currently running their Fall 2019 Sale. This is their latest Humble Freebie for new or existing subscribers to their newsletter, and it is yours to keep if you grab your copy before the offer expires on Sunday. Here's a trailer and here are some details on this stealth/action game set in the groovy 1970s where your job is to dispose of the evidence at murder scenes:
Serial Cleaner is a story-driven, fast-paced stealth/action game, set in 1970s America.

You are a professional cleaner. Your job is to clean up murder scenes by disposing of bodies, cleaning up blood stains and hiding incriminating evidence. A good cleaner never gets caught so you have to make sure you get in, clean up and get out without leaving a trace of evidence for the police to find.

Game Features

  • 70s-inspired Setting and Funky Soundtrack
  • Real-World Data to modify levels according to the current time of day in the player’s whereabouts
  • Full story-driven campaign
  • Challenge modes

Continue here to read the full story.

Rainbow Six Siege Free Weekend

The promised Free Weekend is now underway for Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, offering the promised celebration of the new limited-time Money Heist event in the tactical shooter. Word is: "The free version of Rainbow Six Siege offers access to all of the maps, modes and Operators present in the full version, giving you the full Siege experience over the Free Weekend." Here's a FAQ on the free weekend:
WHEN CAN I PLAY?
You can access the Free Weekend during the following times for each platform:

  • PC: November 21st 13:00 UTC – November 25th 20:00 UTC.
  • XBOX ONE: November 21st 08:01 UTC - November 25th 05:00 UTC.
  • PLAYSTATION 4: November 21st 13:00 UTC - November 25th 13:00 UTC.

HOW CAN I ACCESS RAINBOW 6 FREE WEEKEND?

  • PC: Go to your Uplay PC Launcher.
  • XBOX ONE: The Free Weekend will be available to Xbox Live Gold users. To join in on your Xbox One, visit the Rainbow Six Siege product page on the Xbox Store.
  • PLAYSTATION 4: Join the Free Weekend on your PlayStation 4 by visiting the Rainbow Six Siege product page on the PlayStation Network.

Continue here to read the full story.

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 Free Weekend

A free weekend is underway on Steam for Warhammer: Vermintide 2, the melee action game for Windows. For those who have played the game during a previous free weekend on Steam, word is your progress will pick up where you left off. If you decide you like the game to buy it, your progress from this weekend will also carry over, and you will be able to take advantage of a 75% discount between now and Monday. Here's word on the game:
Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Vermintide. The time has arrived to revisit the fierce first-person co-op slaughter-fest featuring visceral and groundbreaking melee action, set in the apocalyptic End Times of the war-ravaged Warhammer Fantasy Battles world.

Our 5 heroes have returned to take on an even greater threat – the combined forces of a malevolent and destructive Chaos army and the swarming Skaven horde. Prepare to be challenged like never before as you and your team desperately try to survive the never-ending onslaught. Choose between 15 different careers, climb the talent trees, customize your arsenal to fit your unique play style, fight your way through a myriad of stunning levels, and challenge yourself in our new Heroic Deeds System. The only thing standing between utter defeat and victory is you and your allies. If you fall - so will the Empire.

BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal Rocks Out

The Heavy Metal expansion is now available for BATTLETECH, adding new content to this mech combat game for Windows, Linux, and macOS. This expansion, which is included in the game's season pass, adds new mechs, new weapon systems, and a mini-campaign. You can pick up a copy through either the Paradox Store, GOG.com, or Steam. The Release Trailer offers a look, and the announcement has the scoop:
Heavy Metal is the definitive expansion for fans of BATTLETECH’s 35-year legacy, adding seven classic ‘Mech designs from the original BATTLETECH board game and an additional ‘Mech exclusively designed for this expansion. Players can pilot these new ‘Mechs in an all-new Flashpoint mini-campaign featuring two legendary MechWarriors from BATTLETECH's rich history. By adding eight weapon systems and ‘Mechs, each with unique special equipment, players can enjoy a wealth of new and interesting tactical choices both in the Mechlab and on the battlefield!

Key Features:

  • One Original and Seven Classic BattleMechs: Seven classic ‘Mechs from BATTLETECH’s 35-year legacy make their triumphant return along with the first completely new ‘Mech designed exclusively for this expansion. Each classic ‘Mech comes with unique equipment that reflects the flavor and lore of the original board game.
  • Eight Game-changing New Weapon Systems: Eight all-new weapon systems can be utilized to destroy even the most formidable opponents in a wide variety of unique ways. The ‘Mech Mortar is the first AOE weapon in BATTLETECH and can destroy multiple units at once, while the new COIL Beam generates more energy the further the attacker travels before firing, a perfect fit for light ‘Mechs.
  • New Flashpoint Mini-Campaign: Come face-to-face with two legendary characters from BATTLETECH lore - the Bounty Hunter and the Black Widow of Wolf’s Dragoons. A derelict cargo ship has drifted into the Periphery from deep space; what secrets does it contain, and who will ultimately control its mysterious payload?

Continue here to read the full story.

Offworld Trading Company: The Europa Wager Released

Publisher Stardock and developer Mohawk Games now offer The Europa Wager, the second expansion for Offworld Trading Company, the out of this world economic strategy game. You can see this in action in this trailer and pick up your copy from Stardock or Steam. Here what this involves, besides, of course, ignoring the warning from 2010: Odyssey Two:
The expansion takes players to the frozen moon of Europa, where numerous cracks on the surface make building and sustaining new structures a challenge.

Offworld Trading Company is a real-time strategy game in which money, not military force, is the weapon. Stake claims to resources, extract and develop them into goods and upgrades, all while buying and selling in the real-time, player driven marketplace.

The Europa Wager is available to play in skirmish, multiplayer, or in a new series of challenging scenarios that provide a host of new challenges to overcome. Like the rest of the Offworld series, the expansion brings real-world elements into its gameplay as you attempt to establish a new business amid the frozen elements. For example, although water will not be hard to find on the frozen moon, aluminum is non-existent.
Continue here to read the full story.

GearStorm Early Access

GearStorm is now available in Early Access on Steam, offering a sandbox action/strategy game for Windows in a science fiction setting. One of the creators of this is Brian "Xilverbulet" Rivers, known for his mods for both the Fallout and the Elder Scrolls series. Here's a trailer with a look at what to expect, and here's word:
The Phage, a deadly nano-virus, is decimating the human population – so humanity has set out to find a new home by colonizing a hostile alien planet. In GearStorm, dive into a militarized sci-fi sandbox game featuring a massive, open, procedural – and entirely destructible world. Work together and compete with other players to fortify your positions and ensure humanity’s survival!

  • Experience intense military sci-fi gameplay in first or third-person POV.
  • Terraform the environment as you see fit.
  • Leave your mark on an entirely destructible open world.
  • Survive using exploration, resource management, and a powerful crafting ecosystem.
  • Build an elaborate base and even manage your own colony!
  • Explore an alien planet and build up your character by completing quests.

Continue here to read the full story.

Black Future '88 is Now

Black Future '88 is now available on GOG.com and Steam, offering a 2D roguelike shooter for Windows. A look at the game's frantic action can be found in the Launch Trailer, and you should down some crazy pills before reading on for its wild description:
Black Future ‘88 is synth-punk Contra with tons of explosive twists. In a grim alternate history where it’s always 1988, you’ll ascend a procedurally generated tower through a merciless onslaught of bullets, lasers and steel on a mission to exact revenge on the maniac who destroyed the world with nuclear fire. Battle homicidal robots, cutthroats, bosses and more in a death trap that’s constantly evolving to kill you.

You’ve only got 18 minutes until your heart explodes, but strategic combos of weapons, abilities, buffs and curses will help you close the gap between you and your mark. Choose from several deadly characters as you shoot, slash and dash through anything standing in your way.

Survive this nightmarish neon dystopia alone or with a friend in two-player local co-op, then measure your mettle against the world on the global leaderboard with special daily challenges. Black Future ’88 also supports Steam’s new Remote Play Together feature, letting PC players join a friend's game online.
Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Interviews

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Dog destroys wet driveway concrete. D'oh!

Half-Life: Alyx in March

Valve has followed through on their promise, revealing first details of Half-Life: Alyx, a new installment in the Half-Life series that will require a virtual reality headset. The game will be free to owners of Valve's Index and will also support Rift, Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality. This Source 2 engine project is planned for release in March 2020 (Valve Time), and it is already available for pre-purchase on Steam. There is more information on the Half-Life Website, including an Announcement Trailer. While gamers have been waiting for more than a decade to learn what happens after Half-Life 2: Episode Two, word is this new game will help us understand what happened between Half-Life and Half-Life 2:
Valve, the creators of Half-Life and the Steam platform, today announced Half-Life: Alyx, a new, full-length virtual reality entry in the Half-Life series. Slated for release on Steam in March 2020, the title will be compatible with all PC-based VR headsets in March 2020.

Set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, Alyx Vance and her father Eli secretly mount the resistance to the brutal occupation of Earth by a mysterious alien race known as The Combine. As Alyx, players take the fight to the Combine to save the future of humanity.

Half-Life: Alyx was designed from the ground up for Virtual Reality and features all of the hallmarks of a classic Half-Life game: world exploration, puzzle solving, visceral combat, and an intricately woven story that connects it all with the characters iconic to the Half-Life universe.

"Everyone at Valve is excited to be returning to the world of Half-Life", says Valve founder Gabe Newell. "VR has energized us. We've invested a lot of ourselves in the technology. But we're also game developers at heart, and to be devoting ourselves to a VR game this ambitious is just as exciting. For that to come in the form of Half-Life feels like the culmination of a lot things we care a lot about: truly great games, cutting edge technology, and open platforms. We can't wait for people to experience this."

Half-Life: Alyx is powered by SteamVR on Valve's Source 2 engine, and can be played on Steam with all PC-based VR headsets.
Continue here to read the full story.

More on Amazon's Game Streaming Plans

On the heels of the launch of Google Stadia comes a renewal of long standing rumors that Amazon is planning its own cloud gaming service. This is something they are well-positioned for, being a leader in cloud computing and the owner of Twitch. A post on Wccftech rounds up indications that this is coming together, drawing on job listings and Linkedin profiles to make their case. This ties in with a story on CNET which says they've learned more on Amazon's plans after talking with a couple of anonymous sources:
Amazon is planning to announce its service next year, according to two people familiar with the company's plans. It's begun recruiting people from large game companies like Microsoft to help with the launch, as well as hiring for jobs in a "new initiative" within its Amazon Web Services team, which sources said is involved in Amazon's future gaming service.

"We believe the evolution that began with arcade communities a quarter at a time, growing to the live streams and e-sports of today, will continue to a future where everyone is a gamer and every gamer can create, compete, collaborate and connect with others at massive scales," one job posting this month showed. And in at least one other job posting, the company said it wants to "drive innovative new use cases like machine vision and game streaming."

Amazon said in yet another job posting that it plans to integrate its new initiative with Twitch and the company's other services.

Steam Autumn Sale Today?

As mentioned below, in announcing the new Prison Architect DLC, Paradox Interactive also squeals about the Steam Autumn Sale, saying this annual event gets underway today, exactly one year after last year's sale. This is not officially confirmed, and does not jibe with a recent post from the SteamDB saying this sale will launch on November 26th. That said, here's the part of their press release that spills the beans:
Prison Architect will be included in Steam’s annual Autumn sale where it will be available for purchase at a 75 percent discount from Thursday, November 21, through Tuesday, December 3.

Prison Architect Psych Ward: Warden's Edition Breaks Out

Psych Ward: Warden's Edition is now available on the Paradox Interactive Store, GOG.com, and Steam, offering new content for Prison Architect, the Windows, Linux, and macOS incarceration simulation. In addition to the new DLC, publisher Paradox Interactive and developer Double Eleven also now offer The Sneazer Update, which adds free content to the base game, including new architectural items and additional guard dogs for all players. There will be the chance for everyone to check out what's new, as they say a free weekend is about to kick off for the game, while also revealing that the Steam Autumn Sale will get underway today. The DLC is shown off in this trailer, and the announcement has more details:
In Psych Ward: Warden’s Edition, the Criminally Insane have arrived with their own unique traits. To house these unpredictable inmates, players can build a dedicated wing with padded cells, hire Psychiatrists with trained Orderlies, develop treatment sessions, and outfit their prisons with right tools to ensure their needs are met. Inmates must be treated with care or they can turn violent, vandalize, or even attempt to escape. Regularly subjecting your regular inmates to harsh conditions can cause them to turn criminally insane.

“Prison Architect has always looked at prison management through the lens of popular prison fiction seen in films and TV. Psych Ward: Warden’s Edition continues that tradition with the introduction of Psych Ward to PC.” Steacy McIlwham, Product Manager for Prison Architect at Paradox Interactive, said. “This expansion features new inmate behavior systems that will make players rethink the way they approach prison management. How players capitalize on these systems is entirely up to them, but their actions can have dire consequences on the inmates’ behaviors.”
Continue here to read the full story.

Farmer's Dynasty Plows Out

Farmer's Dynasty has now sprouted, close to two years after this agriculture simulation was planted in Early Access. This trailer shows off what this offers, and the game can be picked up on Steam, carrying a 15% launch discount for the next week. Here's a rundown on some of the changes present in the game for its official launch:
Arriving in time for launch are 11 new features, all of which contribute to the immersive nature of the game. Some of these features include:

  • Wake Up, It’s Coffee Time: Three new coffee shops have been added to the world. Coffee shops are now open 24/7 and NPCs will visit the coffee shops, too. Additionally, a new item, the Coffee Cup, can now be obtained at coffee shops, and making use of it gives the player an in-game energy boost!
  • Gather Honey and Watch the Bees: Honey, a new item, can now be gathered at beehives or purchased at coffee bars. If bee-watching is more your speed, you can find bees flying near beehives on particularly sunny days. As long as there are flowers nearby, you can expect honey to be present in beehives after a long day’s work.
  • Think of the Environment: Solar panels, a fun, and useful, new item, can be installed on your buildings. During sunny days, they will increase a player’s social points and earn money.
  • Learn to Cook: Nine new meal recipes have been added, each requiring at least three ingredients. These recipes can be found in any of the three cookbooks that can be bought in the world.

Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

Morning Crowdfunding

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

It seems I have helped the Earth complete another successful orbit of the sun and arrived at yet another birthday. I can only assume that the Earth has increased in speed, as it seems like it was only yesterday that we completed the last such voyage. Now where are my orthopedic shoes? It's almost time for the early bird special!

Celebratory Links: Thanks Ant.
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