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Wednesday, Dec 04, 2019

Get Zombie Driver HD for Free

Zombie Driver HD is currently free-to-own on Steam for anyone who picks up their copy between now and midday tomorrow (thanks Free Steam Keys via Ant). Here's a bit on this chance to run down hoards of the undead:
Insane mix of cars, speed, explosions, blood and zombies! Fight through an epic narrative campaign or test yourself in the Slaughter and Blood Race modes. Engage huge bosses, save survivors, drive crazy vehicles such as a bulldozer, fire truck or even a tank and smash everything in your way. Take part in the Blood Race tournament - chase other cars and take them down without mercy on brutal racing tracks. Jump into the Slaughter mode and survive as long as possible on specially crafted arenas.

DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 Jumbo Demo Released

Steam now offers a playable "jumbo" demo of DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 in advance of next week's release of this MINECRAFT-style RPG for Windows. This post has the details:
It’s time to try the beloved creative block-building RPG DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2. Today we’re excited to announce that the new JUMBO DEMO is available to download right now!

Start by customizing your character and set off to your first encounter with the children of Hargon. Team up with Malroth in the Isle of Awakening and sail to Furrowfield to help the villagers rebuild their town! Do not be shy to explore young builder, as you can transfer your save data to the full version of DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2!

Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers

Ragnarok Game has filed a legal complaint against Nine Realms (Human Head), Chris Rinehart, Ben Gokey, and Paul MacArthur over the circumstances surrounding the recent launch of Rune II, the closure of Human Head Studios, and subsequent actions from the former principals of Human Head (thanks Gamasutra). They are demanding a jury trial over their accusations of Breach of Contract, Fraudulent Concealment, Conversion, Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Negligent Representation, and Unfair Business Practices. Here's a portion of the complaint leveling some damning accusations:
8. Despite earlier assurances from Human Head that it would not do anything to damage the Rune II launch or Ragnarok, less than 24 hours after the launch, Human Head publicly announced its acquisition by Bethesda — Ragnarok's competitor. Human Head did not inform Ragnarok at any time that Human Head was seeking an acquisition partner or otherwise looking to make a corporate change. Whether because of malice or greed or a nefarious attempt to regain the valuable Rune intellectual property, or all of the above, there can be no question that Human Head timed the announcement to maximize damage to Ragnarok and Rune II.

9. In summary: (a) Human Head entered into a long-term agreement with Ragnarok — the whole goal of which was to launch Rune II and to provide the necessary support for its commercial success, (b) Human Head accepted millions of dollars in payment, but failed to perform, (c) instead of curing its deficient work, Human Head secretly conspired to abandon Ragnarok and the Rune II community in an apparent attempt to defraud and harm Ragnarok and the game, and (d) Human Head timed the unveiling of its plan to cause maximum damage.

10. But Human Head's fraud and malice did not stop there. Human Head's Principals -- Ben Gokey, Christopher Rhinehart, and Paul MacArthur - tried one last stunt to damage Ragnarok, Rune II, and the Rune II community. They held hostage certain game code and property that unequivocally belonged to Ragnarok, refusing to transfer the property absent additional payments for work that had never been completed.

11. By this time, Ragnarok had learned its lesson. Ragnarok refused to be blackmailed and pay the ransom, repeatedly requesting the return of its property. What did Ben Gokey, Christopher Rhinehart, and Paul MacArthur do? They made unauthorized alterations to the code and attempted (unsuccessfully) to make public the unauthorized changes. Of course, since Human Head no longer existed, Gokey, Rhinehart, and MacArthur were not altering the code on behalf of
Human Head. Regardless, alter the code they did.

In the Valley of the Gods on Hold

Polygon has word that development of In the Valley of the Gods is "on hold" following Valve's acquisition of developer Campo Santo. The Firewatch studio announced the game around two years ago, but word is they are now working on other projects, including Half-Life: Alyx, for their new owner. Here's the official statement on the news:
To fans looking forward to In the Valley of Gods, it’s probably clear that the optimistic “2019” at the end of the announcement trailer isn’t going to be accurate. In the end, Valve Time makes fools of us all. But yes, developers from the former Campo Santo team have joined other projects at Valve, including Half-Life: Alyx. As you can imagine, our experience in the first-person adventure genre is pretty relevant. You hear a lot about how at Valve you can work on what you want. It turns out that’s true, and there’s a lot of work available. As we integrated ourselves into Valve it became clear there was a lot of valuable work to be done on Half-Life: Alyx. Some of us starting lending a hand, and have since become full-time on the project as it approaches launch. Similarly, some ex-Campos are working on Dota Underlords, some are on Steam, and so on. So to answer your question as of today, In the Valley of Gods development is on hold—but it certainly feels like a project people can and may return to. And when that happens, we’ll find an exciting way to let fans know.

The Division 2 Getting Hardcore Beta and Snowball Fights Next Week

Ubisoft announces plans to release a version 6.1 title update for Tom Clancy's The Division 2 on December 10th, saying this will add some seasonal cheer to the first-person shooter including Santa hats and snowball fights. This will also bring a beta version of the new hardcore mode which features permadeath for an added challenge. Here are the details:
Today Ubisoft announced that Title Update 6.1 (TU 6.1) for Tom Clancy’s The Division® 2 will be available for all players on December 10. To ring in the holiday season, Title Update 6.1 brings a themed in-game event, Situation: Snowball. Some of Washington D.C.’s most elusive enemies are taking a special pride in celebrating, wearing a bright red Santa Hat and taunting you about it! Taking these enemies down will drop a new, exclusive weapon that shoots… snowballs.

As part of this in-game holiday event, all players logging in the game between December 10 and January 7 will get their own Santa Hat to celebrate the holiday season.
Continue here to read the full story.

Everreach: Project Eden Released

Everreach: Project Eden is now available for Windows and Xbox One, offering a story-driven action/RPG that appears to be inspired by Blizzard's cancelled StarCraft: Ghost. The Windows edition is available on Steam and the Launch Trailer features a look at cinematics and gameplay. Would you like to Nova more?
A fast-paced, story-driven action RPG, Everreach: Project Eden is set on the visually stunning planet Eden. As Nora Hardwood, a member of the Everreach Corporation’s Security Division, your mission is to clear the planet for colonization and investigate recent unusual happenings on the planet’s surface.

Discover the ancient secrets of a long-forgotten civilization as you explore a vast alien world and descend into its enigmatic depths. Packed with engaging ground combat, high-speed vehicular warfare, and a compelling level and skill system, Everreach immerses you in its intriguing story and diversified gameplay.
Continue here to read the full story.

Edna & Harvey: The Breakout - Anniversary Edition Breaks Out

Daedalic Entertainment now offers Edna & Harvey: The Breakout - Anniversary Edition on Steam, a remastered version of this cartoon-style adventure game. They promise owners of the original game a discounted Loyalty Bundle, but this bundle includes the original game too, so it's hard to understand. Here's a trailer showing off the game's graphical improvements, and below we break out some details:
Edna & Harvey: The Breakout - Anniversary Edition is a wild, humor-filled journey which stars recently committed protagonist Edna as she seeks to escape from a sanatorium with the help of her talking plush bunny, Harvey. This classic adventure game represents the very best the genre has to offer, harking back to the fun-filled absurdism of LucasArts’ stories of old. The title received widespread acclaim when it launched in 2008, winning the trophies for both Best Adventure and Best Youth Game at the German Game Developer Awards.

Key Features

  • Switch between classic and new modern graphics at will.
  • More than 20 hours of bizarre humor, characters and ridiculous adventure fun.
  • A unique comic style, newly interpreted.
  • Improved controls and user interface.
  • Award-winning narrative and puzzle design.

Continue here to read the full story.

HITMAN 2 December Roadmap

WBIE and IO Interactive now offer a roadmap of content coming to HITMAN 2 this month, which includes the return of the Holiday Hoarders and Snow Festival seasonal events. Word is: "Completing the Holiday Hoarders mission in Paris will allow players to unlock the fan-favorite Santa 47 Suit, while the Snow Festival mission in Hokkaido will include two different unlocks, the Snow Festival Suit and Ice Pick." Here's December Roadmap 2019 (Holiday Special) Trailer and here's the rundown of what's on the way in the assassination sequel:

  • The Truman Convention Escalation Contract in Santa Fortuna (Colombia) – Available Dec. 5
  • The Raaz Algorithm Escalation Contract in Mumbai (India) – Available Dec. 5
  • The Chef Legacy Elusive Target in Paris (France) – Available Dec. 6-16
  • 12 Days of Contracts Community Curated Contracts – Available Dec. 12
  • The Han Encasement Escalation Contract in Mumbai (India) – Available Dec. 12
  • Holiday Hoarders Seasonal Event in Paris (France) – Available Dec. 17
  • Snow Festival Seasonal Event in Hokkaido (Japan) – Available Dec. 17
  • The Rafael Misadventure Escalation Contract in Isle of Sgàil (North Atlantic) – Available Dec. 17
  • The Kotti Paradigm Legacy Escalation Contract in Paris (France) – Available Dec. 17
  • IO Interactive’s Monthly HITMAN 2 Livestream on Twitch – Dec. 17
  • The Stowaway Legacy Elusive Target in Isle of Sgàil (North Atlantic) – Available Dec. 20 through Jan. 6
Continue here to read the full story.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: 70 mph in Switzerland.

Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous Announced

Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is a new CRPG in the works at Owlcat Games based on the Pathfinder tabletop series. An official website is now online, but there's not much there yet, and the game does not yet carry a release date. There are some details on what to expect on PC Gamer, including comments from the developer: "We learned a lot from the launch of the Pathfinder: Kingmaker," says Alexander Mishulin, creative director at Owlcat. "Now we are making a lot of effort to make sure the game will be released far more polished. A lot of issues came from the fact that the player has a lot of choices in the game, and some of those choices (especially ones that are set apart by 20-30 hours of gameplay) tend to interact in the ways that we didn’t predict." Here's a bit more:
Wrath of the Righteous will migrate the RPG to a new part of the world of Golarion, the Worldwound, a demon-infested wasteland where a planar tear to the Abyss—which you’ll be able to visit—has opened. This unfortunate landscape is where you’ll be thrown into a war between mortals and demons. I imagine that a widespread demonic siege will ratchet up the stakes a bit. I’m definitely more worried about rampaging demons than whether or not to pay off a mafia of bards, as I frequently found myself doing in Kingmaker.

Wrath’s setting is actually based on the adventure module for the Pathfinder tabletop game of the same name, so “players of the original adventure path will encounter a lot of familiar faces and encounters, but [there] also will be new characters, twists, and stories,” said Mishulin.
Continue here to read the full story.

Dead Cells Bad Seed DLC Announced

Motion Twin announces Bad Seed, new DLC coming to Dead Cells on all platforms in Q1 of next year. There's an AMA on Reddit to discuss the game and the news with the developers. Here's an outline of what to expect, including an explanation that the news of this paid content does not mean they are finished releasing free DLC for the "roguelike metroidvania action platformer":
Motion Twin and Evil Empire today revealed the wealth of content awaiting Dead Cells fans in its upcoming The Bad Seed DLC, kicking off 2020 with two gorgeous new biomes, several new chill-inducing monsters and all-new weapons, plus an exceedingly creepy boss battle. In case you're not dying enough, more entirely unique ways to meet your maker are on the way, with a release planned on all platforms in Q1 of 2020 for a $4.99 price tag.

The Bad Seed DLC introduces new path choices in the early game ensuring that all players, no matter their level, will be able to enjoy it. Players will discover two new biomes inhabited by their own distinctive bestiary; The Arboretum, a lush paradise to deceivingly adorable creatures, and The Swamp, where an overgrown arboreal settlement inhabited by ambushing blow gunners and spear wielders is your only escape from the gargantuan purple ticks that reign uncontested on the ground.
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RIDE 4 Announced

Milestone reveals development of RIDE 4 is underway, saying a new installment in their motorbike game series will arrive next year. They also announce a special collaboration with Yamaha Motor Europe, saying more information on this is forthcoming. Here's a teaser trailer to get your engine running, and here are the first details:
Milestone today unveiled a long-awaited teaser trailer confirming the development of RIDE 4, the latest chapter of its beloved franchise dedicated to all two-wheel lovers, that will be released in 2020. Although more details about new game features will be revealed later in the campaign, RIDE 4 aims to be the definitive sandbox for all motorbike enthusiasts, with a never seen before level of realism and accuracy. True to the franchise’s soul that players love, RIDE 4 will include several astonishing new features never seen before in the series.

Since its inception in 2015, the series has established itself as a tribute to the motorbike culture, recognized as unique in its genre thanks to the quantity of vehicles included, its high-fidelity bike models and the thrill of its racing gameplay experience. The RIDE franchise is home to over 1.5 million players sharing the same passion for motorcycles racing; a passionate community that can be easily described with a few numbers: 52 Million motorcycles purchased to race more than 238 Million competitions, covering more than 233 Billion Kilometers, more than 780 trips to the sun and back.

MILESTONE PARTNERS WITH YAMAHA MOTORS
Today Milestone also announces a special collaboration with Yamaha Motor that is a tribute to digital and real-world passion for two-wheels. More details about this new partnership, that will include both digital and in-store activations with exciting activities for their communities, will be soon revealed.
Continue here to read the full story.

Outlast Trials Revealed

Red Barrels tweets the announcement of Outlast Trials, a new installment in their horror series that will include multiplayer play (thanks ResetEra). This includes a link to a Facebook Post with a few preliminary details:
The Red Barrels team is excited to announce our latest project in the Outlast universe. Set in the era of the Cold War, The Outlast Trials will allow players to face the horrors that await by themselves or with fellow test subjects 💉

The Outlast Trials is still in production, and as our co-founder David Chateauneuf puts it: “Now we’ve done our proof of concept, it is time focus on content creation, variety… and gore."

Get ready.

The Crew 2 Free Weekend Plans

Ubisoft announces a free weekend for The Crew 2 will get underway tomorrow, offering the chance to test-drive their open-world vehicle game through Sunday. Word is: "The Crew 2 is available now for preload on Uplay PC, and EPIC Games Store." This is a little odd, because the game is available on Steam but we can't actually find it yet on the Epic Games Store. All the details can be found in this post and on Steam and an overview follows:
Players will have access to the full game - including the newest update, Blazing Shots, which includes a new vanity category, Underglows, and brings weekly PvE competitions and unique LIVE Summit events where players must reach the top of the leaderboard to win exclusive rewards based on their ranking. Players can experience Blazing Shots, plus hundreds of other challenges from previous updates, and the freedom to explore the entire redesigned USA on land, on water and in the air, behind the wheel of their dream vehicles, solo or in four-player co-op.

Players who want to continue their journey in the US open world of The Crew 2 will not only keep their game progression but also enjoy a discount of up to 75 percent off The Crew 2 full game and Season Pass during the Free Weekend Period.

The Crew 2 is available now for preload on Uplay PC, and EPIC Games Store.

Deathwing Flies into Heroes of the Storm

A new patch is now live in Heroes of the Storm, bringing the long-awaited arrival of Deathwing to Blizzard's MOBA. They also note that the new character is one of the perks included for owners of a BlizzCon 2019 Virtual Ticket. The patch notes have the details on the game's newest and largest hero and other accompanying changes, including the first Nexus Anomaly, which alters how experience is gathered in the game. This post from a while back has more on Deathwing, and here's more on the experience changes:
The first Nexus Anomaly has arrived! In order to make collecting experience more satisfying and intuitive, we're changing how experience is collected from Minions in the Heroes of the Storm. Players will no longer get experience from simply being nearby, but instead need to gather an Experience Globe dropped by dying Minions.

Diablo IV Item Changes

A post on the Diablo IV website has part two of the discussion of the systems that will drive Blizzard's upcoming action/RPG sequel, focusing how items will be handled in the loot-centric game. This lengthy post covers a lot of ground, including item affixes, attack/defense changes, and replacement of ancient legendary items. Here's the introduction:
Itemization is a huge core part of any Action RPG. We’re focusing specifically on itemization in this blog because it’s a complex and nuanced topic. Let’s start with two key principles that guide us as the Diablo IV development team.

First, we agree that adding depth and customization to your character through itemization is incredibly valuable and important to the game. This has been the most-discussed topic since we revealed Diablo IV. To be clear—we believe Diablo IV itemization should be deep and rewarding and that’s one of our highest priorities. Another important philosophy across the whole game for our team is the concept “Easy to learn, difficult to master.” This core philosophy helped many of us become the hardcore gamers we are today, and one we want to embrace throughout the Diablo IV development process.

Second, we agree with the feedback that Diablo IV shouldn’t just mimic the itemization in our previous Diablo games. Our plan is to take the best parts of previous games and improve upon them while introducing new elements to make Diablo IV unique. We don’t want to create an exact copy of Diablo II or Diablo III. It’s worth calling out that, on this subject, there was a lot of mixed feedback and differing opinions, and we acknowledge that means there’s no single approach that everyone in the community will agree on.

Life is Strange 2 Complete Season Available

Life is Strange 2 - Episode 5 is now available, and the Windows edition of this concluding chapter in the series can be found on Steam. There are details on the Life is Strange Website and there's a this trailer celebrates the completion of the season. Here's a description:
Experience a story of two brothers, 16-year old Sean and 9-year old Daniel Diaz, who have to flee their home in suburban Seattle after a tragic event that changes their lives forever. Further complicating matters is the manifestation of an exciting new telekinetic power that has far-reaching implications for Sean and Daniel and puts pressure on the relationship between them. Life will never be the same again.

In the thrilling season finale, Sean and Daniel are on the home stretch. However, reach their goal of Puerto Lobos, Mexico, they will need to evade the police, the FBI, and the vigilantes patrolling the border.

Can the Wolf Brothers endure and succeed – or will their journey end, so close to their goal? How their story ends depends on the choices you make in Life is Strange 2.
Continue here to read the full story.

Heroland Released

Heroland is now available on GOG.com, Humble Store, and Steam, offering an offbeat RPG set in a theme park. The Launch Trailer shows off the game's distinctive throwback look featuring nearly flat, pixel-art characters. Here's more on the game and its origins:
Players will take the role of Lucky (not his real name, but nobody seems to care), a decidedly unlucky part-time tour guide at Heroland involved in an unfortunate, and expensive, vase-related incident. Now shackled to his part-time job until he pays off his debt, Lucky must continue to help guests explore dungeons, beat up baddies, and become legendary heroes while he assists from the sidelines and offers guidance. Released in Japan as WORK x WORK and created by key developers from MOTHER 3, Legend of Mana, and Fantasy Life, this tale of princes and pixels is told by over 20 quirky characters with a new take on classic-RPG-style combat.
Continue here to read the full story.

Out of the Blue

Well this past weekend's snowstorm was not nearly as dramatic as predicted, but we did end up with an actual coating of snow out there when it was done. This allowed us to experience one of the benefits of condo living, where someone else is responsible for keeping the great outdoors in check. We already got tastes of this during the summer when we didn't have to worry about lawn care and earlier this fall when leaf removal was somebody else's problem. But dealing with this pre-winter snow was the real payoff. At some point after the snowfall ended the plows showed up and cleared the middle of the parking area. They then sounded their horns signaling it was time to move our cars. Once these were temporarily relocated, they plowed out the rest of the lot, and the whole thing was taken care of in about 20 minutes. This was pretty fantastic, as it will hopefully prevent me from becoming a shoveling-related death statistic, not to mention the timing of taking place right after I recently tweaked my back.

Obituary: RIP Star Trek Writer D.C. Fontana, 1939-2019. Thanks Neutronbeam.

Relaxing Links: Thanks Ant.
Stories: Willie Nelson says he’s no longer smoking marijuana due to breathing issues.
Airline opening restaurant that only serves plane food. Thanks Boing Boing.
Science: 19 Galaxies Apparently Missing Dark Matter. No One Knows Why.
Permanent hair dye and straighteners may increase breast cancer risk.
Media: NO TIME TO DIE Trailer.
Street Fighter vs Cybertruck.
Nostalgia Video: a video store in a basement.
Follow-up: "Downton" Sequel Likely, But A Long Way Off.
The Funnies: StBeals. You are soooo good looking!