Archived News:

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

Ghost Recon Breakpoint Free Trial and Friend Pass

Ubisoft announces the availability of a six-hour free trial for Ghost Recon Breakpoint as well as the launch of a friend pass that allows owners of the tactical shooter to invite up to three friends to play co-op with them between now and June 16th. Here's how this all works:
The free trial expires after six hours of playtime. After that, all your progress will be saved and carry over should you decide to purchase the game. If you participated in the recent free weekend for less than six hours, you can still use your remaining time in the trial. Those who played more than six hours during the free weekend can still continue playing if invited by friends using the Friend Pass.

The Friend Pass allows Breakpoint owners to invite friends to jump into their games. Additionally, the six-hour time limit pauses while using the Friend Pass, so if you spend all your time in co-op with a friend, you’ll still have six hours of the free trial for yourself. If you don’t already own Breakpoint, you’ll need to download the Trial version specifically to take advantage of a Friend Pass invite.
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VALORANT Closed Beta Next Month

Riot Games announces closed beta testing of VALORANT begins on April 7th as they work towards launching their multiplayer shooter this summer. Here's word on testing and how you might be able to participate:
VALORANT, the competitive, 5v5 character-based tactical shooter built by Riot Games, is getting a closed beta starting April 7. We're ready for the first wave of players to test VALORANT's competitive gameplay and take our first step toward building a global community.

For now, space is limited to players in Europe, Canada, United States, Turkey, Russia and CIS countries. The plan is to roll out to more regions, if possible, pending the volatile logistics of launching a beta effectively during a global pandemic.
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Artifact Beta 2.0 Announced

An update on the Artifact Website follows up on recent comments from Valve's Gabe Newell about plans to reboot Artifact, their deck-building game that did not take the world by storm. They announce plans for beta 2.0 of the game, focusing on making it easier to pick up and adding a new draft mode. They are not selling cards at this time, and they say most of invites to the beta will go out to people who purchased the game prior to this announcement. Here's the update, including a brief FAQ:

We’ve been focusing on gameplay changes first. The biggest change is zooming out to allow players access to all three lanes at once. The majority of effects still work on individual lanes so they still maintain their identity, but it’s less likely that a player will get shut out in the same way they used to.

We’ve also focused on making the game easier to pick up. We aren’t selling cards, so you won’t face an opponent with a stacked deck. We’ve also added a new draft mode, Hero Draft, that gives you a taste of constructing decks without all the pressure.

The beta will exist as a new executable and access will be granted to individual accounts. When we are ready to send out invites we will let you know the process.
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Steam Bandwidth Management

A post from Valve discusses Valve's efforts at managing Steam bandwidth as internet usage soars due to the number of people at home due to COVID-19. There are more details in this article. Here's the overview:
Changes to Auto-Updating to Spread Out Peak Load
For games that haven’t been played recently, Steam has already been scheduling updates for the next off-peak local time period. Beginning this week, we are now spreading these updates out over several more days. Only games played within the last 3 days will be updated immediately. As always, the game will begin updating immediately if you request to play it, and you can always initiate an update (or pause it indefinitely) through the Download Manager. We’re also looking into additional solutions to help on our side.

Options You Can Control
In addition to changes Steam is making to auto-updating, we wanted to remind you that there are also a number of options you can control. We believe that the best solution for most users is to take advantage of Steam’s existing throttling and scheduling features to set their own optimal behavior. So here are some suggestions – follow this link for more details on how-to:
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The Elder Scrolls Online Free Trial

The Elder Scrolls Online Website announces a sale and a free trial for Bethesda Softworks' MMORPG. Here's are the details on the sample:
The Elder Scrolls Online Free Play Event begins Wednesday, April 1 at 10AM EDT, and will run through Monday, April 13. Note: Steam’s Free Play Event will run from April 1 through April 6. During this period, anybody on PC/Mac, Xbox One (Xbox Live Gold required), and PlayStation®4 can download and play The Elder Scrolls Online base game free and experience a whole world of adventure.

To participate in the Free Play Event, visit our Free Play page and select your platform. This event gives you access to the ESO base game, which includes four of the game’s original classes, 23 massive unique zones, and an epic main storyline.

Because the Free Play Event includes access to the base game, you can descend into your Dark Heart of Skyrim adventure with the Greymoor Prologue. In addition to this, you can also take part in the Anniversary Jubilee in-game event, allowing you to earn double XP, gain bonus rewards, and eat cake to celebrate ESO’s sixth birthday!
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Radical Relocation Relocating To Steam

Iceberg Interactive announces plans to publish Radical Relocation, saying Winglett Entertainment's Ludum Dare entry will come to Early Access on Steam before the summer. For those who cannot wait to check out this physics puzzle game, there's a demo you can play right now on Game Jolt and itch.io. Here's a Gameplay Trailer and here are the details:
Radical Relocation is a one-more-try, physics-based puzzle/beat-the-clock game. Your goal is to stack all your possessions carefully, but hastily, on top of your car and move them to your new home without dropping anything, and before the timer runs out. As you progress, you will be offered ever-more-challenging vehicles, such as boats, helicopters and much more.

"Originally featuring in the Ludum Dare 40 Indie Game Jam, we were really impressed with its simple, but addictive and challenging gameplay - we couldn’t believe that this was the first game that this young team had worked on, and were very keen to team up with them. Moving house will never be more frustrating and hilarious at the same time" says Erik Schreuder, CEO at Iceberg Interactive.
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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered Tomorrow?

A listing on the Offizieller PlayStation Store Deutschland has confirmation, in its native German, of plans for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered (thanks VG247). They say this will come to PS4 tomorrow. This includes screenshots, a video, and a description we machine translated to English with the help of Google. And yes, according to that this includes a prick:
CONTAINS the classic ghost bundle from the underwater blasting team for use in Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® and Warzone *.

Miss out on the striking ghost outfit. Go with the dreaded look of UDT Ghost from the Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 2 campaign mission 'The only nice day ... was yesterday' in the fight of Modern Warfare® and the free version Call of Duty®: Warzone.

Includes:

  • UDT ghost skin
  • 2 weapon blueprints
  • weapon talisman
  • executor
  • prick
  • animated business card
  • emblem
  • 2 Battle Pass

increments Relive the epic campaign of the 2009 Blockbusters Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 2, re-mastered for a new generation in HD.

The Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 2 campaign has been completely remastered with improved textures, animations, physical rendering, HDR lighting, and more.

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord Early Access

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is now available for Windows Early Access on Steam, marking the next chapter for this strategy/action/RPG sequel that was first announced well over seven years ago. The accompanying post includes an Early Access Trailer, word that this carries a 10% discount for the next two weeks, as well as the offer of an additional 10% off for owners of a previous Mount & Blade title. Here's what this banner occasion entails:
The horns sound, the ravens gather. An empire is torn by civil war. Beyond its borders, new kingdoms rise. Gird on your sword, don your armour, summon your followers and ride forth to win glory on the battlefields of Calradia. Establish your hegemony and create a new world out of the ashes of the old.

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is the eagerly awaited sequel to the acclaimed medieval combat simulator and role-playing game Mount & Blade: Warband. Set 200 years before, it expands both the detailed fighting system and the world of Calradia. Bombard mountain fastnesses with siege engines, establish secret criminal empires in the back alleys of cities, or charge into the thick of chaotic battles in your quest for power.

Strategy / Action RPG
Explore, raid and conquer your way across the vast continent of Calradia, making friends and enemies along the way. Raise your own army and lead it into battle, commanding and fighting alongside your troops in the thick of the action.
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More Steam Record Keeping

The Steam Social distancing boom continues. The Steam Game and Player Statistics Page reflects new records for Valve's service, showing a new peak online player count of 23,436,186. They also show a new peak of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players of 1,123,002. VGC says SteamDB also showed the service narrowly beat its previous record for number of players concurrently in game, reaching 7.25 million users playing at once. This is the third weekend in a row that Steam has reached new all-time high player counts.

Star Citizen Raises More Cash

Cloud Imperium Raises announces they've raised an additional $17.25 million dollars for Star Citizen in addition to the king's ransom the space game project has already raised through crowdfunding and previous private investments. Kotaku Australia does the math to calculate this means the project has now raised a total of about US$338.25 million. Here's more on this new influx of capital:
Today, Cloud Imperium announced that existing investors – the Calder Family Office, Snoot Entertainment, and ITG Investment – have exercised a one-time option to purchase further shares in the company. The share prices reflect a discounted option price for existing shareholders that was pre-negotiated at the time of the initial investment in 2018. There were no changes to the Board composition as a result of this transaction. Chris Roberts continues to maintain full control of the Board and Group.

Haxity Open Beta This Weekend

Following the news that Haxity will enter Early Access on May 26th, Megapop Games announces an open beta weekend will kick off on Friday for their new cyberpunk deck-builder. You can participate by joining the Haxity Discord, and word is you'll get a key on April 3rd, and will be able to play from that point through Sunday. Here's the game's previously released Reveal Trailer and here's an outline of what to expect from the beta:
The Beta will focus on the “Versus” mode, which is a Bo5 series vs a single opponent. You can chose to either play vs AI or challenge your friends. If you want to find other likeminded individuals the Discord will also feature a “Looking-for-Player” channel where you can find someone to fight, you might even end up fighting one of the developers.
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Last Oasis Working on Server Issues; Offers Refunds

After launching into Early Access for Windows on Steam last week, massively multiplayer survival game Last Oasis made yesterday's Steam Top 10 list as the sixth bestselling game of the week. But a new post from developer Donkey Crew announces server issues have forced them to temporarily take the game offline while they work things out (thanks PC Gamer via David). They include this video from their project lead discussing the problem, and announce that while they work things out they are offering full refunds to anyone requesting one regardless of how long they have played the game:
Our team of engineers has been working incredibly hard to resolve the bottleneck with our master server, which prevents people from logging into the game properly. The team is doing their best to implement solutions as quickly as possible, but as you have seen yourselves, the connection problems continue to appear as players join.

Therefore, we decided to take all servers offline to give our engineers time to investigate without new pressure for about 7 days.

If you are disappointed by this, we completely understand and ask you to request a refund from Steam - all refunds will be approved for the next 3 days, regardless of the time you spent in-game.

We hope to get back on track as soon as possible to allow everyone to enjoy Last Oasis. We'll keep you updated on the situation and announce the good news once we confirm the game is stable. We'd like to apologize once again for the rough launch and thank everyone who offered their support.
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Out of the Blue

Tiger King remained pretty amazing through the end. It was definitely a window into a world of unimagined weirdness. As social distancing rolls along, television recommendations you haven't yet followed can be a blessing. Last night MrsBlue and I finally got around to starting Ozark, which has been on so many people's must-watch list since it began. It's easy to see why, as we are already completely hooked. So it's nice to have a full three seasons to binge, even if it is just 10 episodes a season.

Obituary: Remembering Maria Mercader, CBS News journalist for three decades. Thanks Reddit.
Obituary: 'Grim Sleeper' Serial Killer Lonnie Franklin Dies in Calif. Prison Cell.

Slightly Indented Links
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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