Archived News:

Thursday, Mar 19, 2020

Get Watch Dogs and The Stanley Parable for Free

Watch Dogs and The Stanley Parable are now available for free as this week's promised giveaways on the Epic Games Store. As always, these are yours to keep provided you pick them up before the release of their next freebies a week from today. Epic also has the usual heads-up on what next week's gratis games, which are Figment and Tormentor x Punisher. Here's more on today's giveaways:
Watch Dogs
As Aiden Pearce, a brilliant hacker, turn Chicago into the ultimate weapon in your quest for revenge. But what happens when your personal quest collides with an entire city?

The Stanley Parable
The Stanley Parable is a first person exploration game. You will play as Stanley, and you will not play as Stanley. You will follow a story, you will not follow a story. You will have a choice, you will have no choice.

DirectX 12 Ultimate Announced

Microsoft announces DirectX 12 Ultimate, which will bring new technology they've developed for Xbox Series X to PC. This includes inline ray tracing, variable rate shading, mesh shaders, and sampler feedback, and they offer a deep dive to explain each of those features. They also offer with reassurances that this will not impact game compatibility. Here's the overview:
Microsoft’s Game Stack exists to bring developers the tools they need to create bold, immersive game experiences, and DX12 Ultimate is the ideal tool to amplify gaming graphics. DX12 Ultimate is the result of continual investment in the DirectX 12 platform made over the last five years to ensure that Xbox and Windows 10 remain at the very pinnacle of graphics technology. To further empower game developers to create games with stunning visuals, we enhanced features that are already beginning to transform gaming such as DirectX Raytracing and Variable Rate Shading, and have added new major features such as Mesh Shaders and Sampler Feedback.

Together, these features represent many years of innovation from Microsoft and our partners in the hardware industry. DX12 Ultimate brings them all together in one common bundle, providing developers with a single key to unlock next generation graphics on PC and Xbox Series X.

Circle Empires Rivals Free Open Beta Weekend

A free open beta weekend is now underway for Circle Empires Rivals, offering the chance to check out this multiplayer real-time strategy game between now and Sunday. You can get a key by joining the Iceberg Interactive Discord. Here's word on the beta and what's changed since the last test:
You and your friends will take control of your own tiny kingdoms and conquer a world made of circles. Each one is overflowing with enemies to fight, monsters to hunt and loot to horde. Watch out though, as friends quickly turn to rivals…
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GDC Summer Announced

Informa Tech announces GDC Summer will take place from August 4-6 in San Francisco as a replacement for the gathering portion of the Game Developers Conference, which is currently underway in virtual form due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Details and early bird pass sales can be found on the GDC Summer 2020 Website. Here's more on the plan:
Informa Tech, organizer of the Game Developers Conference® (GDC), has announced GDC Summer, a three-day celebration of the art, craft and business of game development, to be held from August 4-6 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. GDC Summer will be a unique Game Developers Conference experience but will retain the same high level of expert-led talks as the traditional GDC, along with a freestyle two-day expo show floor from August 5-6.

GDC Summer’s conference program will consist of high-quality technical content, mixed with valuable roundtable discussions to foster conversation and connection. The event will host a new series of microtalks and fireside chats, as well as a dedicated space for comprehensive career development sessions covering topics such as how to pitch your game, effective communication strategies, how to land an investor/publisher and business development strategies.
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WRC 9 Announced

Nacon, the publisher formerly known as Bigben, announces WRC 9, saying latest version of this official game of the FIA World Rally Championship is in development at KT Racing. This is planned for release on September 9th for Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, with the PC edition to be sold through the Epic Games Store. This will come at a later date for Switch and versions are also planned for Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. In other forward-looking news, Nacon also announces they have extended their license to cover WRC 10 and WRC 11 down the road. Here's the Announcement Trailer and here's more from the announcement:
With WRC 9, the passionate developers of the French studio KT Racing have pulled out all the stops to once again meet the high expectations of rally fans by providing even more realism and challenges.

An enhanced and more challenging Career mode
Hailed as one of the best Career modes in any racing game, WRC 8 was a hit with rally fans. It returns in WRC 9 with enhanced gameplay mechanics, new opportunities to upgrade your team, a wider variety of events and a stronger link to what the real-world championship teams are doing throughout the year.
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Total War: Three Kingdoms A World Betrayed Released

A World Betrayed is now available on Steam for Total War: THREE KINGDOMS, offering new Windows DLC for the historical strategy game. As noted in this announcement this comes alongside White Tiger Yan, a free update which also supports the macOS and Linux editions of THREE KINGDOMS. There is also a new version 1.50 patch on the way for the game, and word on all these updates can be found on this page. This tale of betrayal can be seen in this video. Read on for more:
Rewrite history as THREE KINGDOMS transitions into 194CE, a time in which rebellions have been thwarted but discontent and turmoil remain at large. Amid the conflict China's foremost warlords clash as they hasten to fill the power vacuum left vacant at the heart of the Han Dynasty.

Expanded Warlord Roster
With the indomitable Lü Bu and the ambitious Sun Ce, A World Betrayed features two of China's most prodigious warlords of the period as playable factions within the new campaign. Both peerless warriors feature unique story arcs, new mechanics, and faction specific elites ready to lay waste to the false claimants of China.
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Panzer Corps 2 Rolls Out

Slitherine now offers the release of Panzer Corps 2, a World War 2 strategy sequel for Windows centered on armored combat. This is also available on GOG.com and Steam. Here's the announcement with a trailer with a two-minute look at the game and the following details, which mention three different SKUs and an offer of a physical copy of the game for just the cost of shipping:
Generals, it is time to start your Panzer Division's engines. Take command of the Wehrmacht war machine, from the invasion in Poland in 1939 to the final defence of Berlin in 1945. You’ll fight battle after battle using the classic turn-based hex system all wargamers have loved since Panzer General, the father of a genre to which Panzer Corps 2 is the spiritual successor.

Enjoy the massive amount of content, including more than a thousand unique 3D unit models, over 60 scenarios forming the Wehrmacht grand campaign, an advanced random map generator for playing skirmish games against the AI or other players. Since the modding community was such a great part of the first Panzer Corps, in the sequel you will find a much improved Scenario Editor available to support mods from day one.
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TT Isle of Man - Ride On The Edge 2 Races Out

TT Isle of Man Ride on the Edge 2 is now available, offering a motorcycle racing simulation for Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 from publisher Nacon and developer KT Racing. You can find the PC edition on Steam. The Launch Trailer offers a look at the game's breakneck action, and the announcement has all the details:
In TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge 2, you ride the roads of the Snaefell Mountain course, where the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy has been contested for over a century. The Isle of Man TT course is very different from a classic circuit. The route is full of imperfections and includes fast corners, tight bends and long straights where riders can exceed speeds of 186 mph (300 kmh)! TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge 2 faithfully recreates the demanding course of this legendary race in which unerring anticipation is the key to victory.

TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge 2 takes realism to new heights, including improved bike physics, wear and tear of various parts, and inclusion of official TT bikes and riders. KT Racing worked closely with two professional riders to help meet the high expectations of players: Julien Toniutti, the fastest French rider in the TT; and Davey Todd, ranked second in the game's worldwide leaderboards and the second fastest newcomer of all time in the real race.
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Sea of Stars Announced

Developer Sabotage announces Sea of Stars, a turn-based RPG that's a prequel to their previous game, The Messenger. This is not to be confused with Infinite Space III: Sea of Stars, the roguelike adventure game from our buddies at Digital Eel. They are running a Kickstarter Campaign over the coming month to fund this, and this has already hit its initial funding goal. Gameplay is shown off in the Reveal Trailer and there's more on the plan in the announcement:
For the Spring Equinox today, indie studio Sabotage announced Sea of Stars, a new turn-based RPG inspired by the 90s classics. Telling the story of the Children of the Solstice, the game focuses on engaging combat and unrestrained exploration, featuring freedom of movement seldom seen in the genre. The studio also launched a Kickstarter campaign for Sea of Stars today with an incredible array of options for fans to get involved (https://seaofstarsgame.co)

Sea of Stars’ compelling world unites players with Valere and Zale, youths fated to become Solstice Warriors. Combining their Sun and Moon powers to perform Eclipse Magic, they are pledged to fight the monstrous creations of the evil alchemist known as The Fleshmancer. Sabotage’s knack for twisting narratives makes for an engrossing, wondrous tale surrounding a world’s looming apocalyptic threat.
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Population Zero Key Giveaway

Enplex Games team is giving away 5000 game keys to Population Zero, their upcoming multiplayer survival RPG. This is part of an initiative they call #GamesVersusVirus. Those who receive keys will be able to play in their upcoming closed beta test as well as to get a full copy when the game officially launches. You can register your interest on this page by completing some social media tasks, and an additional 5000 entrants will receive closed beta keys. Here's an overview of the game from Steam:
Survival on Kepler is a race against time. Make the most of the remaining 168 hours or get turned into an unworldly being by the Sphere. Complete quests to help NPCs, explore the diverse landscape, survive wildlife and other players. Uncover Kepler’s mysteries and your mission’s true goal.

New NVIDIA GeForce Drivers

The GeForce Drivers Page now offers new version 442.74 WHQL-certified GeForce drivers for NVIDIA graphics cards running under Windows. Word is these are game-ready for tomorrow's release of DOOM Eternal:
With the GeForce Game Ready Driver for Doom Eternal and a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, you can hit a glorious 200 FPS with every single game setting maxed out, for the highest-fidelity DOOM Eternal experience, with incredible visual clarity, target tracking and acquisition, and minimal input latency.

Dauntless Scorched Earth Update

Phoenix Labs announces that a free Scorched Earth update is now available for Dauntless on all platforms for the free-to-play action/RPG. The Windows version is offered through the Epic Games Store where a new premium Searing Talons Hunt Pass is now available. You can get a look at what this brings to the game in the Launch Trailer and read on for more:
The “Scorched Earth” content update marks the debut of Blaze Escalation, a fiery new challenge that pits Slayers against a series of Behemoth encounters with unique gameplay modifiers and randomized Behemoth combinations. Slayers will face enhanced Flameborne Behemoths imbued with blaze aether on their way towards a battle against the Escalation’s “boss” Behemoth. Slayers who find success on their way to the end of an Escalation hunt will face off against the Torgadoro, Dauntless’ biggest Behemoth yet. The Torgadoro is the first Behemoth to use the environment to its full advantage, scaling the walls of a volcanic arena to unleash devastating attacks from above, and rain down fiery projectiles on its foes. Defeating a Torgadoro grants Slayers schematics for powerful legendary weapons. Each legendary Torgadoro weapon includes two prismatic cell slots, the ability to “bond” the weapon to another blaze weapon, and a special ability that calls forth Torgadoro’s rage. Blaze Escalation can be accessed in the Map menu. For Slayers who wish to finish their Malkarion armour and legendary weapons, Shock Escalation remains available as well.
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World Video Game Hall of Fame Finalists

RochesterFirst has a rundown on the 12 finalists for inclusion in The Strong's World Video Game Hall of Fame. These cover a wide-range of platforms and genres, but it's pretty easy to understand the reasons they are all under consideration:

  • Bejeweled
  • Centipede
  • Frogger
  • GoldenEye 007
  • Guitar Hero
  • King’s Quest
  • Minecraft
  • NBA Jam
  • Nokia Snake
  • Super Smash Brothers Melee
  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
  • Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Resident Evil 3: Raccoon City Demo Released

This post on Steam announces the release of the promised Resident Evil 3: Raccoon City Demo on Steam. This Windows demo is a sample of the upcoming Resident Evil 3, the survival/horror remake that's due for release on April 3rd. Word is: "Play a section of the opening of the game, specially tuned for this demo, and get a glimpse of the tragedy that befalls Raccoon City." Here's the recently released Resident Evil 3 Demo & Resistance Open Beta Trailer, and here are more details:
Resident Evil fans can get an early taste of the upcoming survival horror game, Resident Evil 3, with an action-packed playable demo now available for PC players via Steam.

The Resident Evil 3: Raccoon City Demo lets players step into the boots of the legendary heroine Jill Valentine, as she teams up with Carlos Oliveira and the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (U.B.C.S.) to evacuate civilians from a crumbling Raccoon City. While Jill is fighting to save innocent civilians, she must also save herself from the relentless bioweapon Nemesis, whose sole objective is her demise.
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MapleStory 2 Shutting Down

The MapleStory 2 Website announces Nexon's free-to-play MMORPG sequel will go offline on May 27th. They are refunding purchases made after December 11, 2019 through the Nexon Launcher or their website, while purchases made on Steam for the same period are being handled through Steam Support. They offer a timeline of what will lead up to the closure along with the following explanation:
With extremely heavy hearts, we are deeply saddened to inform you that we will be closing down the Global MapleStory 2 service on May 27th, 2020.

We are forever grateful for your patience and dedication to MapleStory 2 as we tried to rework the game starting with Project New Leaf, but ultimately we’ve decided that we will not be able to provide the type of service that would live up to your expectations. We took a hard look at the current state of the game and its future roadmap, and sadly reached the conclusion that it would be difficult to maintain long-term continuation of the game while remaining true to what made MapleStory 2 your MapleStory 2.

As part of this news, we are disabling the ability to purchase additional Blue Merets and Meso Tokens effective today. We will continue to support MapleStory 2 throughout the next couple months, although this will be our last update. The game will still be available free-to-play via the Nexon Launcher and Steam.

Additionally, we’ll be running several closing community and in-game events to celebrate our last few months together. You can check out the details here.

Free itch.io Games List

With so many forced indoors by the global COVID-19 outbreak, Games to help you stay inside on itch.io is a lengthy list of titles on this indie game marketplace that are free or carry big discounts (thanks Acleacius). This fits in with Stay at home and play some games on GOG.com from Tuesday and the Steam Game Festival: Spring Edition that kicked off yesterday, each of which offer more games that are either temporarily or permanently free. Here's word on this new offering:
Stopping the spread of COVID-19 is on all of us, so make your time social distancing a little easier. Here's a collection of games from developers who are offering special discounts to do what they can to help. You can see everything on sale here: https://itch.io/games/on-sale

DOOM Eternal at GameStop Today

GameStop tweets an announcement that they will begin selling DOOM Eternal today in advance of the official release date for id's shooter sequel, which is tomorrow. They explain this is to avoid overcrowding stores during the virus pandemic since Animal Crossing is also due tomorrow:
To ensure we adhere to CDC-recommended social distancing guidelines, we will be selling DOOM Eternal a day early on Thursday, 3/19 as a safety precaution for our customers and associates. Animal Crossing will release on Friday 3/20 to further help separate the crowds.

2020 Game Developers Choice Awards Winners

Untitled Goose Game is Game of the Year winner from the 20th annual Game Developers Choice Awards, which were announced during an online stream after COVID-19 cancelled the in-person ceremony. You can see all the festivities in this recording of the stream. Word is: "The other big winners of the night include Remedy Entertainment’s ambitious action-adventure shooter, Control, which won the awards for Best Technology, Best Audio and Best Visual Art. The game expertly incorporates non-linear game progression and solid third-person shooter mechanics with a unique story of supernatural powers, dark conspiracies and transforming brutalist architecture. The narrative-driven role-playing game, Disco Elysium, won the awards for Best Narrative and Best Debut for developer ZA/UM. The game incorporates elaborate dialogue-based gameplay mechanics that manage to balance a carefully crafted story with full player agency over dialogue options and player characteristics." Here's the full list of honorees:
The Game Developers Choice Awards winners are:

  • Best Audio
    Control (Remedy Entertainment/505 Games)
  • Best Debut
    ZA/UM (Disco Elysium)
  • Best Design
    Baba is You (Hempuli)
  • Best Mobile Game
    What the Golf? (Triband/The Label Limited)
  • Innovation Award
    Baba is You (Hempuli)
  • Best Narrative
    Disco Elysium (ZA/UM)
  • Best Technology
    Control (Remedy Entertainment/505 Games)
  • Best Visual Art
    Control (Remedy Entertainment/505 Games)
  • Best VR/AR Game
    Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series (ILMxLAB & Oculus Studios/Disney)
  • Audience Award
    Sky: Children of the Light (thatgamecompany)
  • Game of the Year
    Untitled Goose Game (House House/Panic)
  • Pioneer Award
    Roberta Williams
  • Ambassador Award
    Kate Edwards

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2020 Independent Games Festival Winners

A Short Hike is the winner of the Seumas McNally Grand Prize for Best Independent Game from the 22nd annual Independent Games Festival. This took place along with the Game Developers Choice Awards, so the results can be seen in the same recording of the live-streamed festivities. This game also took in another major prize: "In addition to the Grand Prize, A Short Hike also won the community-driven Audience Award, which is chosen by fans through a public voting process. A Short Hike uses a colorfully retro graphical style to present a vibrant exploration game that has players traversing the wilds of Hawk Peak Provincial Park, discovering hidden treasures, friendly hikers and the outside world in the process." Here's the list of all the winners:
The winners of the 22nd annual IGF Awards are:

  • Excellence in Visual Art ($2,000)
    Knights and Bikes (Foam Sword)
  • Excellence in Audio ($2,000)
    Mutazione (Die Gute Fabrik)
  • Excellence in Design ($2,000)
    Patrick’s Parabox (Patrick Traynor)
  • Excellence in Narrative ($2,000)
    Heaven’s Vault (Inkle)
  • Nuovo Award ($2,000)
    The Space Between (Christoph Frey)
  • Best Student Game ($2,000)
    Bore Dome (Goblin Rage)
  • Audience Award ($2,000)
    A Short Hike (Adam Robinson-Yu)
  • Seumas McNally Grand Prize ($10,000)
    A Short Hike (Adam Robinson-Yu)

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Riftbreaker Alpha Testing

We first mentioned Riftbreaker after it was shown off at last year's PAX West, revealing EXOR Studios' base-building survival game with action/RPG elements, saying it's coming sometime this year. This post on Steam has more on the plan, highlighting a new Gameplay Trailer showing off some mech combat action. And now this post announces that a "pre-alpha" playtest is underway. The first keys are already in the hands of testers, but there's still a chance to get in on the action by joining the EXOR Studios Discord. Here's word on the test:
This “pre-Alpha 2” build of the Riftbreaker offers an Introductory Mission and Survival/Sandbox Mode. The Introductory Mission is a scripted experience that is meant to guide you through the basics of gameplay. Once you are ready for a real test of your skills, try the Survival mode. You can pick one of the pre-made difficulty settings we designed or adjust the difficulty sliders to your liking. If you feel especially adventurous, you can also randomize all the game parameters and jump in blind, only to see how long you can last. There is also a sandbox mode available, where you can enjoy endless gameplay without being bothered by enemy attacks. It’s a perfect setting to test new solutions and toy around with the game. A Sandbox Control Panel will allow you to change what happens in the game world, too.

Please take note of whatever bugs you find in the game and report them to us, using the built-in ‘Send bug report’ option in the game menu. We are going to be fixing the problems on a regular basis. If the game crashes, it will ask you what you were doing at the time of the crash and ask you to send the crash report. This is very important - the sooner we can catch a game-breaking bug, the sooner we can fix it. Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts about the game on Discord, too!
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X4: Foundations 3.0 Update and X4: Split Vendetta This Month

EGOSOFT announces a March 31st release date for the X4: Foundations 3.0 update and the Split Vendetta expansion for X4 that will add the next chapter to the Foundations storyline in the space exploration sequel. Last year they announced the patch and the add-on were being delayed to this quarter, so this news means they will just barely hit that window. A public beta for the 3.0 update is underway, and this post explains how to participate and offers the latest detailed patch notes on all the changes. Here's more on the Split Vendetta expansion:
X4: Split Vendetta
X4: Split Vendetta is the next chapter in the X4: Foundations story. This is the first big expansion for X4: Foundations, which was released in November 2018 on PC. The expansion greatly increases the size of the universe and introduces two new Split family clans along with their economy, new ships, weapons and station modules.

Along with Update 3.0 to X4: Foundations, the X4: Split Vendetta expansion brings exciting new missions and adventures to the game. New game-starts allow an even more varied experience in the biggest sandbox this side of the galaxy! TRADE with the Split families or FIGHT against them; BUILD your own station designs based on the new modules, and THINK carefully on your path through the new diplomatic missions.
X4: Split Vendetta will be released on March 31st, 2020 ($14.99 / £12.49 / €14.99). X4: Split Vendetta is the first of two expansions that will be automatically available to owners of the X4: Foundations Collector's Edition.
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Gatherings & Competitions

Out of the Blue

Happy spring to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, as the vernal equinox is today at 11:50 pm EDT. If this seems soon, it's because it is, as the Farmers' Almanac notes it's the earliest vernal equinox in 124 years. Of course, this is the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere, so happy fall to those down under. Finally, happy new year for those who happen to follow the Assyrian, Hindu, and Persian/Iranian calendars.

Sprung Links: Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.
Links: How to Disinfect Everything: Coronavirus Home Cleaning Tips.
Stories: An Entire Town Is Under Quarantine Because a Man Returned After Having an Affair With a Woman Who Had Coronavirus.
Venice's canal water looks clearer as coronavirus keeps visitors away. Thanks Acleacius.
Science: How China's "Bat Woman" Hunted Down Viruses from SARS to the New Coronavirus. Thanks Max.
Long before COVID-19 struck, germaphobes have been living the pandemic lifestyle. Thanks Max.
A Promising Treatment for Coronavirus Fails.
Media: Everything You Need To Know About Westworld (Seasons 1-2) - CRAM IT. Thanks RedEye9.
Watch Judi Dench's delightful message for managing these stressful times.
Mugging a Kickstarter.
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