Archived News:

Tuesday, Apr 07, 2020

No Digital E3 2020

Following the news of a date for E3 2021, comes word that there will be no digital version of E3 2020. When the face-to-face version of the trade show was cancelled due to COVID-19 last month, the ESA they said they were looking into such a substitute: "We are also exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020." There's nothing about this on the Entertainment Software Association Website or the E3 Website, but IGN has an official statement that puts an end to such talk:
Given the disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not be presenting an online E3 2020 event in June," reads a statement provided to IGN. "Instead, we will be working with exhibitors to promote and showcase individual company announcements, including on www.E3expo.com, in the coming months. We look forward to bringing our industry and community together in 2021 to present a reimagined E3 that will highlight new offerings and thrill our audiences.

Company of Crime Announced

1C Company announces Company of Crime, an turn-based strategy game in the works at Resistance Games that will allow you to build your own criminal empire when it launches on Steam and other platforms this summer. The Announcement trailer shows off the game's swinging 60s setting, and the announcement has all the details:
1C Entertainment and developer Resistance Games have today announced, Company of Crime, a tactical turn-based criminal empire-builder strategy game that takes place in 1960s London. Players will have a choice to become a leader of a cruel gang and build a company that will rule the criminal underworld, or play as the chief inspector of Scotland Yard’s famous Flying Squad, and tear down the criminal gangs piece by piece. Company of Crime is set to launch this summer on PC via Steam and other digital stores.

Company of Crime is a hybrid of empire builder and tactical strategy game that features a turn-based combat system with a heavy focus on melee. You can either play as the Criminal side or as the Police, where in each case you will have to build a team that consists of gang members possessing the different skills required to pull off criminal tasks, or detectives that have mastered the art of investigation.
Continue here to read the full story.

Gone Gold - Gears Tactics

Xbox Wire announces that development is complete on the Windows edition of Gears Tactics, and the game is on track for release on April 28th, with the Xbox One edition to follow later this year. As they explain, this is because this was built from the ground up as a PC game: "Gears Tactics was developed at its core as an authentic PC-first experience, a foundation that was fostered across teams at The Coalition and Splash Damage in the game’s design focus on strategic game mechanics, a technical build optimized across PCs and intricate gameplay controls for mouse and keyboard." Here's a bit on the game:
Play as Gabriel ‘Gabe’ Diaz, Kait’s father
Set 12 years before the events of Gears of War, players will step into the shoes of Gabe Diaz as he rescues and builds a squad in a journey of leadership, survival and sacrifice. Gabe Diaz’s last name might be familiar: Gabe is the father of Kait Diaz, protagonist of Gears 5. Cities on the planet Sera are beginning to fall to the monstrous threat rising from underground – the Locust Horde. With the government in disarray, your squad of survivors emerges as humanity’s last hope.

Fight against Ukkon – a monster who makes monsters
Players will fight back against an old foe who fans will recognize from the Rise of RAAM comic in 2018 – Ukkon, a Locust geneticist who is responsible for the creation of the Locust army during the events of Gears of War. The evil genius responsible for the Brumak, Corpser and a few all-new enemies you’ll face in Gears Tactics, you’ll embark on a desperate mission to hunt down this powerful, relentless and evil mastermind.

No Man's Sky Exo Mech Update

The No Man's Sky Website announces the release of the Exo Mech Update for No Man's Sky, a free version 2.4 update that adds mechs to the Hello Game's space exploration game. Here's an Exo Mech Trailer showing these units lumbering about and here's the news from Sean Murray:
The Minotaur Exocraft is a unique new exocraft / suit hybrid, and introduces a different way to explore planets. This mechanical walker shields its pilot against hostile extraterrestrial atmospheres, providing immunity against hazards such as radioactivity and extreme temperatures.

Its special defining feature, though, is the freedom of movement it affords. The Minotaur’s powerful jetpack allows it to soar powerfully through the air, and land on terrain with a satisfying slide. We think it’s a lot of fun to stomp around in!

In addition to the Minotaur, the Exo Mech update brings a number of useful new exocraft technologies to the game, several quality of life improvements for base building, graphical enhancements, and much more.
Continue here to read the full story.

Play Borderlands 3 Science to Help Science

Gearbox announces Borderlands Science, an arcade puzzle game you can play from within Borderlands 3, offering "a puzzle game that benefits the real-world scientific community as you play." The Borderlands Science Official Trailer features Mayim Bialik, "actor, PhD scientist, researcher, and your favorite person" explaining how this works. This offers unique rewards to the player as well as the ability to help the scientific community. Here's the explanation:

Borderlands Science presents you with simple block puzzles based on strands of DNA, and by solving them you're helping to map and compare the microbes contained therein. Completing these puzzles also earns you in-game currency, which can be redeemed for unique Vault Hunter Heads and Skins as well as timed boosters that buff your stats, loot quality, and even experience gains when you jump back into the mayhem of Borderlands 3 proper.

Borderlands Science exists in part because computers aren't perfect at organizing this data and make lots of small mistakes that can corrupt subsequent analysis, but the game you play to solve this complex task is easy to understand and play. Colored tiles representing different nucleotides appear on a grid; by nudging them up within their columns, you attempt to organize them into the correct rows. It's not always possible to line up all of the tiles correctly, but attempting these puzzles is still helpful as you're identifying errors in real-world computer analyses.

Continue here to read the full story.

Steam Sales Data Deep Dive

A new post on Steam takes a "deep data dive" into the performance of new releases on Steam. This discusses the changes that took place in 2012 to enhance game discoverability after Valve launched the Steam Greenlight program and the 2017 launch of Steam Direct. This brings us to the point were they say "more new releases than ever are finding success." Word is: "Essentially an examination of how the growth of Steam affects new titles and what it means for developers, the post also includes an Appendix detailing how the results were put together as well as a collection of graphs charting the data." This digs into the numbers, so they offer the following short version:
The TL;DR

Here's a summary of what we found:

  • Over the years, there's been a continuous increase in the number of games achieving success on Steam. We'll dig into this in the first section below.
  • Earnings prospects for most - but not all - games improved in 2019. We'll dig into this in the second section below.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare/Warzone Season 3 Tomorrow

The Activision Games Blog has details on Season Three of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare/Warzone, which kicks off tomorrow. This includes a new Season 3 Trailer to help hype players of the military shooter and its battle royale derivative. In addition to explaining what to expect from the new season they outline the benefits of buying a Battle Pass or Battle Pass Bundle. Here's an excerpt on what's coming to the free-to-play Warzone:
Expand Your Squad in Quads
Free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone, a massive combat experience from the world of Modern Warfare, just made your squad a little bit bigger in its newest game mode.

Drop into Quads, available for Battle Royale and Plunder, allowing you to team up with up to three players for a squad of four. Teamwork becomes even more essential for victory in Quads, as losing a member – or three – of a squad will stack the odds against you even further. In Plunder, collect more Cash faster with this expanded fire team that can help you complete Contracts more proficiently or tactically eliminate any opposing teams.

The full version of Modern Warfare is not needed to join the action in Warzone, so grab your “quad” download and drop in!
Continue here to read the full story.

Sea of Thieves Ships of Fortune Sets Sail This Month

Xbox Wire has details on Ships of Fortune, a new monthly update for Sea of Thieves coming to the buccaneering game on April 22nd. Here's word on how this will upgrade the game's trading companies:
Got a favourite Trading Company on the Sea of Thieves? The original Gold Hoarders, Merchant Alliance, Order of Souls and Athena’s Fortune each appeal to different players – and we’re expanding them with the option for players to become Emissaries in Ships of Fortune. Taking on this special duty allows pirates to earn boosted rewards from their usual Voyages, plus special cosmetic rewards for those who perform best!

Represent for Greater Rewards… and Risks!
To find out about becoming an Emissary for one of the Outpost Trading Companies, speak to their representatives at the Outposts and inspect the nearby table. Emissary roles are highly prized, so you’ll need to make a significant donation to prove you appreciate the privilege!
Continue here to read the full story.

Pirates Outlaws Early Access

Early Access to Pirates Outlaws is now underway on Steam, offering a Windows roguelike deck-builder. Here are details on this game, which began as a mobile offering:
This full release of Pirates Outlaws will be hauling a fully completed Arena with decks and enemies from all 6 chapters, doubling the content available in the Early Access version’s 3 chapters. A new buccaneer has arrived to take up the chase! The new hero “Doctor”, with his ability to rise from the dead, will be available for players to conquer the high seas with. Another new addition is a tutorial to help recent recruits to better understand the mechanics of the game. All hands hoy! All loot and additions from the entire six chapters, including the most recent Fabled and Eastern Seas updates, will naturally also be included.
Continue here to read the full story.

Hearthstone Ashes of Outland Launches

Blizzard announces the launch of the Ashes of Outland expansion for Hearthstone. This adds 135 new cards to the digital card game, introduces the Demon Hunter class, and comes with a gift of the Kael'thas Sunstrider Legendary minion free for everyone who logs in to the game between now and June 29th. Here's word:
The Demon Hunter, Hearthstone’s first ever all-new class since launch, arrives today, alongside Ashes of Outland. Suffused with chaotic fel energy and capable of fearsome feats of soul magic, the Demon Hunter’s unique playstyle encourages unbridled aggression, with an emphasis on direct hero attacks and powerful demon minions. The Demon Hunter class and corresponding Illidan Stormrage Hero—as well as 30 of the class’s specially tailored cards—are available free to all players who complete the free four-part Demon Hunter prologue single-player campaign.

Ashes of Outland introduces a total of 135 new cards to the game, including Primes, a new type of Legendary minion designed to make a lasting impact on a match. In their initial forms, Primes are strong, economical early-to-midgame minions; upon leaving the board, they’re shuffled back into a player’s deck in a vastly upgraded form. Players will also have to contend with Imprisoned Demons. Initially “dormant” for two turns and unable to attack or take damage, these powerful minions unleash match-shifting effects once they’re activated.
Continue here to read the full story.

Into the Black

Last Link of the Day: World Health Day 2020.

Elite Dangerous Fleet Carrier Beta

The Frontier Forums announce that beta testing of the promised Fleet Carrier update for Elite Dangerous begins today, and should now be underway. This Fleet Carriers Content Reveal Recap has all you need to know about what this adds to the space combat game. This forum hosts discussion of the beta including Patch Notes. If you're interested but don't want to play in the beta, this post outlines a schedule of livestreams that are coming today to show it off. If you want to play it firsthand, this post explains how to join in:
Although the beta will run much like the real game, we ask that you focus on testing all the changes, along with your standard gameplay, to ensure the stability of the build. This will help us to identify and find ways to fix as many issues as possible before the update goes live.

As a reminder...

  • The beta runs from the 7 April and will end on 20 April.
  • This beta will be only be accessible on PC, however the next beta, in May, will include PC, PlayStation and Xbox.
  • To take part in the beta, all you’ll need to do is load up the launcher and select (and update) the following product: Elite Dangerous: Fleet Carriers Update Beta (Horizons) from the 7 April. Once that has been completed, you’ll have access to the Fleet Carrier beta. If this doesn't appear, please restart your launcher.
  • We'll be updating the Issue Tracker with a Fleet Carriers Update (Update 3.7) Beta section, and we encourage all those who are taking part in this beta to report any encountered bugs or issues through it. In addition, we will also be adding links from inside the game that will take you directly to the Issue Tracker site.
  • You will not need to resubmit any of the current issues that are currently present in the Issue Tracker. Any issues you encounter in the beta should be added to the dedicated beta Issue Tracker section.

Continue here to read the full story.

World of Warcraft Shadowlands Alpha Beginning

A Shadowlands Developer Update has details on closed alpha testing that gets underway this week for the new World of Warcraft expansion. This will start with small batch of testers and expand from there. If you are interested in eventually being invited, you are advised to take advantage of the Beta Opt-In link. Here's word on the testing of this next chapter in Blizzard's venerable MMORPG:
When the alpha servers go live, we will have the full level-up experience in the zone of Bastion available, along with its accompanying dungeon, the Necrotic Wake. Testers who are interested in checking out our revamped new player experience can play through the Alliance version of the new zone and tutorials. We’ll aim to roll out new content on a regular basis throughout the test cycle—later in April we hope to offer the zone of Revendreth, as well as a look at Torghast, Tower of the Damned, our endless dungeon experience. We will continue to unlock content such as zones, dungeons, and endgame questlines when they’re ready for feedback, using template characters as needed to focus testing and feedback on specific parts of the game. Once everything has been released into the test environment, we’ll officially move into a beta phase, wiping all characters and kicking off a larger round of invites for an end-to-end test of the entire Shadowlands experience.
Continue here to read the full story.

Dead Age 2 Announced

Publisher Headup announces Dead Age 2, saying this zombie survival sequel from developer Silent Dreams will come to Windows via Steam Early Access on June 3rd. The premise is quite familiar but they boldly call this "unique" due to its "combination of survival, management, Rogue-Like events, turn-based combat, classic role-playing game with tons of quests and a story in which your decisions directly effect plot progression." The Announcement Trailer features a look at gameplay and here's the pitch:
Award-winning publisher of independent games, Headup, is thrilled to announce that Dead Age 2 — the sequel to the popular indie survival-tactics game Dead Age — is set for an Early Access launch on Steam and GOG for Windows PC on June 3, 2020. The newest game in developer Silent Dreams' fan-favorite franchise blends the survival, management, and role-playing game genres with elements of rogue-like gameplay and turn-based combat as players battle to survive the zombie nightmare while rebuilding society. Players will experience a brand new, stand-alone story and all-new features, as they once again brave a world infested with flesh-eating devastation.

Dead Age 2 follows a group of determined survivors who have fled to Freedom City in search of a cure for the plague that triggered the zombie apocalypse ten years ago. Join them on their journey for survival as they complete quests, scavenge valuable resources, and build up their base to live long enough to see the world at peace. Tense turn-based tactical combat against gangs of looters and hoards of brain-devouring monsters can result in death for their character — permanently — while unlocking persistent upgrades can bring hope for the future of the weary group of survivors. With a branching storyline and six unique endings, every decision made counts as the player’s group must befriend other survivors, navigate difficult choices, and maybe even find romance along the way.
Continue here to read the full story.

Hitman 2 April Content Calendar

IO Interactive offers an April Content Calendar for HITMAN 2, outlining what will hit their assassination sequel this month (thanks MP1st). Word is: "The HITMAN 2 April Content Calendar brings two reactivated Elusive Targets, Featured Contracts and a new community member under the spotlight with their Curated Contracts selections." Here's the update:
Featured Contracts – Fool’s Gambit
You make great contracts, and we put them in the game for everyone to enjoy. If you’re up for the task, jump on over to the Official Submission Thread. This month’s theme is based on April Fool’s Day and we look forward to seeing exactly how you adapt that into a Contract idea.

Elusive Target Reactivation – The Politician
Your target is Dame Barbara Elizabeth Keating a New Zealand tycoon and the former Minister of Trade and foreign affairs. Her recent actions have forced her to employ a body double, so stay sharp to identify the correct target.
You may only have 1 target, but 10 days of opportunity to complete the contract.
Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

Out of the Blue

I recently mentioned the sound and fury of the mating season on the pond we overlook. This has only gotten more interesting since then. One of the swans made an appearance for the first time in a while, so I'm assuming the other was incubating an egg somewhere (there's a nearby marsh where we suspect they nest). But we'd never before seen a swan behave like it did during this brief return. It flew a couple of times, which was unusual in itself. But even odder was it giving chase to one of the geese. The dominant swans usually get left alone as they mind their own business. In this case it not only took flight to chase a goose across the pond, but this pursuit continued on shore. As far as we can tell the swans are completely loathe to leave the water, so the goose must've really pissed it off. That was a mild conflict compared with the other thing I experienced. Investigating some frantic screaming (for lack of a better term) I saw two ducks mating. That's the nice way to put it, as this seemed way more like rape than anything. And yeah, doing some Googling makes me realize I have harbored some very naive misconceptions about consensual sex in the wild. The oddest part is there was a third duck in the mix, another drake who made lame duck attempts to interrupt the action to no effect. A ménage à trois most fowl.

Obituary: Jens Hauch, former ArenaNet and 343 Industries technical artist, has passed away.

Fowl Links
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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