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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Get Grand Theft Auto V for Free

The good news is that Grand Theft Auto V is now available for free from the Epic Games Store as this week's giveaway. The bad news is that demand has brought the site to its knees. We've been part of the problem, constantly refreshing to get the details from there, but the site's been hosed for hours. We can assume this will be yours to keep if you can grab your copy within the next seven days. Presumably the problems will clear up in time for everyone who wants a copy to get one. In the meantime, here's a refresher on the most recent installment in Rockstar's open world crime series:
Amidst the turmoil, three very different criminals plot their own chances of survival and success: Franklin, a street hustler looking for real opportunities and serious money; Michael, a professional ex-con whose retirement is a lot less rosy than he hoped it would be; and Trevor, a violent maniac driven by the chance of a cheap high and the next big score. Running out of options, the crew risks everything in a series of daring and dangerous heists that could set them up for life.

The biggest, most dynamic and most diverse open world ever created, Grand Theft Auto V blends storytelling and gameplay in new ways as players repeatedly jump in and out of the lives of the game’s three lead characters, playing all sides of the game’s interwoven story.

All the classic hallmarks of the groundbreaking series return, including incredible attention to detail and Grand Theft Auto’s darkly humorous take on modern culture, alongside a brand new and ambitious approach to open world multiplayer.

Get Aegis Defenders for Free

The proud crew at Humble now offer Aegis Defenders for free as their latest Humble Freebie, fulfilled via a Steam Key. This will be yours to keep as long as you pick it up over the next few days during the promotion. The only catch is that you subscribe to their free newsletter, and if you're already a subscriber all you need to do is grab your copy. Here's their explanation of how this is supposed to sort of work: "If we squint at a spreadsheet, fudge some numbers, and add some hope, it sort of makes sense. But it really helps if you buy something eventually, so we can keep justifying throwing away all this money on getting you free games." Here's word on the game:

HUMANITY HAS BEEN BROUGHT BACK INTO THE DARK AGES, BUT REMNANTS OF A ONCE HIGHLY ADVANCED CIVILIZATION STILL EXIST.
In a world where control over ancient technologies means power, a ruthless Empire has arisen. You play as a team of Ruinhunters searching for the one thing that can save their village - a legendary weapon known as Aegis.

Explore, build, & defend in this 2D platformer that blends Metroidvania style combat with Tower Defense strategy.

Conan Exiles Free Weekend

A free weekend is underway on Steam for Conan Exiles, offering a chance to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women in the Windows edition of Funcom's barbaric multiplayer survival game. This post has all the details, including word that you can continue any progress you make if you decide to buy the game, which is currently on sale for half off. Here's more on the game:
Conan Exiles is an online multiplayer survival game, now with mounts and mounted combat, set in the lands of Conan the Barbarian. Enter a vast, open-world sandbox and play together with friends and strangers as you build your own home or even a shared city. Survive freezing cold temperatures, explore loot-filled dungeons, develop your character from a lowly peasant to a mighty barbarian, and fight to dominate your enemies in epic siege wars.

Conan Exiles can be played in full single-player, co-op, or persistent online multiplayer.

Ubisoft Financials Reveal Unannounced AAA Game

Ubisoft offers full year 2019-20 sales and earnings figures, bragging about "strong execution in the fourth quarter, notably for Live games." Word is: "Non-IFRS operating income came in at €34.2 million, versus €446.0 million in 2018-19. Non-IFRS attributable net loss amounted to €10.2 million, representing non-IFRS diluted loss per share of €0.09, compared with non-IFRS attributable net income of €333.5 million and non-IFRS diluted earnings per share of €2.8 respectively for 2018-1." We don't really know what any of that means, but we do understand that their outlook for the rest of the year reveals they have one AAA game in the pipeline that they haven't announced yet:
As of today, Ubisoft is confirming its capacity to reach its previously communicated target of €600 million for non-IFRS operating income, with the release of 5 AAA titles (Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch_Dogs Legion, Gods & Monsters®, Rainbow Six Quarantine and a yet to be announced franchise).

Epic Games Mega Sale

The Epic Games Store began its Mega Sale today, which includes the Grand Theft Auto V giveaway mentioned above. As also stated there, this has caused the site to become unavailable due to too much traffic (it seems to have knocked Fortnite offline as well). The announcement even includes some unfortunately ironic verbiage, saying: "The event crashes out of the gate with an incredible free game offer." Here's word on the sale for when the load eases enough to visit the store again:
Today, Epic Games is excited to announce the return of the Epic Games Mega Sale on the Epic Games Store, launching today with four weeks of free game offers on some of the biggest titles in video games, a £10 coupon issued for each purchase (£13.99 and above), and incredible discounts on major titles!

The Epic Games Store is a curated digital storefront for PC and Mac, designed with both players and creators in mind. To download the Epic Games Store visit the Epic Games Store page at epicgames.com, go to the upper right corner, and click “Get Epic Games.”. Players will need to login with their existing Epic Games account, or create one by signing up here.
Continue here to read the full story.

Free Discovery Tours

Ubisoft now offers the chance to get either or both of Discovery Tour: Ancient Egypt and Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece for free. These are edutainment titles based on Assassin's Creed game, offering their culture and sightseeing without the combat. Here's word:
Inspired by the rich settings of Assassin’s Creed® Odyssey and Assassin’s Creed® Origins, the Discovery Tours act as living museums, allowing players to learn about history by exploring open worlds, free of combat and time restraints. In Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece, players can experience the world of Classical Greece, traveling through 29 regions and discovering Ancient Greek philosophy, famous cities, daily life, war and myths. Discovery Tour: Ancient Egypt takes players to Ptolemaic Egypt, with guided tours about ancient culture and customs led by historians and Egyptologists. Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece and Discovery Tour: Ancient Egypt are designed to accompany players as they learn, with intuitive features and accessible language.

“With millions of children experiencing upheaval to their studies right now, and teachers forced to adapt their lessons to digital tools, people are seeking new and enriching ways to learn. We’re really proud of the Discovery Tours and their capacity to make history accessible, immersive, and fun,” says Etienne Allonier, brand director for Assassin’s Creed®.

Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece and Discovery Tour: Ancient Egypt offer an engaging way to learn history, either on their own or as part of a formal curriculum. Ubisoft provides historical texts and other resources to teachers who use Discovery Tour in their classes. Teachers can request more information by reaching out to acdiscoverytour@ubisoft.com.

Nimbatus - The Space Drone Constructor Official Launch

Nimbatus - The Space Drone Constructor has slithered out of Early Access and is now officially launched on Steam for Windows, macOS, and Linux. The game carries a 25% launch discount for the next week. This Action-packed space engineering simulation from Swiss developer Stray Fawn Studio allows the player to create custom drones to complete missions in a procedurally generated galaxy that include exploration, resource gathering, and combat. You can see some of this in action in the Launch Trailer and this new Gameplay Overview. Here's the announcement:
A game about space exploration, science and creativity, players craft custom drones from multiple parts, then send them out into a procedurally generated galaxy to collect resources and complete missions. Drones can be controlled by players or function as fully autonomous entities using logic and sensor parts. Different enemies, biomes and completely destructible planets await.

Players can craft drones out of hundreds of different parts and explore a destructible, procedurally generated galaxy either in an anything-goes Sandbox mode or the resource-limited story-based Survival mode. In Survival mode, players can choose a captain from one of six different archetypes including the tech-savvy researcher, tough old boxer or the mysterious cybernetic programmer (recommended for experts only!). Each captain offers different bonuses to further customise drones and push builds to the limit.
Continue here to read the full story.

Crusader Kings III in September

Paradox Interactive announces Crusader Kings III will be released on September 1st, offering the latest installment in their medieval grand strategy series. A new Story Trailer accompanies the news, which follows:
The herald rides forth to make the announcement all have awaited. Court and commoners hold their breath in anticipation. Jealous rivals, thwarted in their plots, sulk in the shadows, for the glorious day is coming. Crusader Kings III, the heir to the crown of grand strategy gaming, will take its throne on September 1, 2020.

Now available for pre-order, Crusader Kings III is a medieval grand strategy role-playing game from Paradox Development Studio. Guide a royal dynasty through the centuries. Claim new lands through diplomacy and marriage, or use your armies to conquer your neighbors or unite a divided realm. When swords and seduction fail, however, spies and poison may still be effective.

Crusader Kings III is the sequel to one of the world’s most beloved strategy games. Rich with new historical content and character options, it has never been easier to wrap yourself in the ermine cloaks of power, writing your own story of castles, knights, crusades, and murder.
Continue here to read the full story.

Blightbound Announced

Publisher Devolver Digital and developer Ronimo Games announce Blightbound, a new dungeon crawler from the creators of Awesomenauts. Here's a trailer from the game, which is expected to enter Early Access later this year. Here's the pitch:
The world lies in peril. Decades ago, a band of legendary warriors slayed the dreaded Shadow Titan after a long and ferocious struggle, but their celebration was short-lived. The Shadow Titan’s true intentions revealed themselves when from his broken husk flowed the Blight; a corrupting fog that alters any living creature exposed to its evil.

Blightbound is an online & local multiplayer dungeon crawler that tasks three heroes to venture down from their mountain refuge to face the abominations of the Blight - a mysterious and corrupting fog that enshrouds the land.

Explore handcrafted dungeons, fight a terrifying cadre of mystical and monstrous enemies, grab valuable loot, and recover fallen heroes to expand your roster of available warriors. Each player will fulfill a specific role on the team - warrior, assassin, or mage - to overcome colossal bosses and solve clever puzzles.
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Balsa Model Flight Simulator Beta Signups

Kerbal Space Program creator Felipe Falanghe now offers An Early Look video for Balsa Model Flight Simulator, his next project. The video shows how to build, fly, and crash a model plane in the upcoming sim. The Irregular Corporation is also now offering signups for beta testing of the game, which is expected to commence this summer. Here a quick rundown on the game:
Named for the Balsa wood known for creating model airplanes, Balsa Model Flight Simulator is a challenging and detailed model flight simulator with a powerful suite of editing tools where you can design, build, fly and battle with model aircraft. Balsa Model Flight Simulator is a virtual flight experience like no other.

Pilots are able to construct a wide range of model aircraft in great detail, or design innovative new planes to test their engineering abilities. The game sports a deep model airplane editor allowing would-be model airplane pilots to control every aspect of building kit planes in the game. With deep customization options, pilots will be able to fly in style as they hone their skills in free-flight and challenge modes.
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Rock of Ages 3 Delayed

It probably won't make or break them, but Modus Games announces a small delay to Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break, ACE Team's upcoming roll playing game. This was expected on June 3rd, but now it is supposed to roll out on July 21st. Here's what happened:
Independent publisher Modus Games announced that upcoming Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break will see a small delay, as the game is now set to launch July 21, 2020. Currently in development by ACE Team and Giant Robot Monkey, Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break will release simultaneously on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia.

“Due to current events, Rock of Ages 3 will be launching seven weeks later than originally announced,” said Shane Bierwith,” EVP of Modus Games. “We regret having to make fans wait, but we want to make sure the final release meets the expectations of our players.”

Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break is an incomparable blend of tower defense-style base designing and swift, arcade-paced demolition via guidable boulder. The action is backed by a hilarious reimagining of history across an inventive campaign and distinctive game modes. Debuting the series’ first-ever stage creator, Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break allows players to craft and share their dream experiences while enjoying challenges made by other players in the community.

KartRider: Drift Racing Closed Beta Next Month

Nexon announces a second closed beta for KartRider: Drift Racing begins on June 3 via the Nexon Launcher, Steam, and Xbox One/Xbox One X. If you are interested in taking part in this test-drive, you can register on this website. Those who are accepted will be notified by mail, and those who took part in the first closed beta are automatically included in the second. The post has details on what's involved in the test, including rewards in the full game for participants.

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Gatherings & Competitions

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Last Link of the Day: Honest Trailers - Blade Runner 2049.

Fallout 76 Free Weekend Begins and Content Roadmap Revealed

The Fallout Website announces a free weekend is now underway for Fallout 76 on all platforms, offering the chance to visit the wasteland in the latest installment in this RPG series without spending a single bottlecap. This post has all the details on the promotion. If you enjoy your adventures, the game is on sale, and progress from the free trial will carry over. Bethesda also offers a roadmap of plans for the game, introducing seasonal content for summer, autumn, and winter, which are explained further in this article. They also unveil an update coming later this year called One Wasteland for All which will allow players to adventure together regardless of level and still experience balanced content and loot. Here's word:
FALLOUT 76 FREE WEEK
Starting May 14, get a free taste of Appalachia during our Fallout 76 Free Week on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4! Enjoy the full Fallout 76: Wastelanders experience for yourself, free of charge, until May 18. Note that a PlayStation Plus or Xbox Gold/Ultimate membership is required for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners, respectively.

Should you get accustomed to staking your claim in West Virginia, we’re also discounting the Standard Edition during and after Free Week on Bethesda.net, Steam, Xbox Store and PlayStation Store. And yes – your progress from Free Week carries over to your paid version of the game!
Continue here to read the full story.

Prison Bound Free Expansion Today, Paid Expansion Next Month

Paradox Interactive announces Island Bound, a new expansion for Prison Architect coming to the incarceration simulation on June 11th. While this taste of The Rock is almost a month off, they are also offering a touch of Con Air with today's release of Cleared for Transfer, a free expansion that involves prisoner transportation that's now available on Steam. Here's word on that: "Cleared for Transfer introduces security sectors to create a more complex management experience. Now players can reward good behavior and motivate inmate reform with special privileges, providing greater control over the compound. Launching alongside Cleared for Transfer is The Bucket, a free content update that adds over twenty new items players can use to customize their prison." Here's a new Island Bound Announcement Trailer and here's more on the upcoming release, which indeed includes two Alcatraz maps:
The Island Bound expansion integrates seamlessly with Prison Architect’s existing gameplay, expanding it further with more buildings, security options, construction opportunities, and prison customization. Players will be able to create island compounds without needing an access road.
Continue here to read the full story.

New Minecraft with RTX Maps

NVIDIA announces five new free maps are now available for the Minecraft with RTX on Windows 10 Beta, their visually enhanced version of the sandbox game. They've worked with noted Minecrafters to create new experiences they hope you will dig. There are trailers and details in this update, and an overview follows:
NVIDIA worked with well-known Minecraft creators to craft new worlds for Minecraft with RTX on Windows 10 Beta for gamers to enjoy for free. This is our second release of Minecraft experiences, and the five new worlds are available on the Minecraft marketplace today.
Continue here to read the full story.

RIDE 4 in October

After teasing development of RIDE 4 late last year, Milestone now offers more details about the next installment in their motorcycle racing sequel, including an October 8th release date on Steam and consoles. They illustrate the news with a new Announcement Trailer, which is mostly bike porn, but there's a glimpse of what appears to be gameplay. They promise detailed accuracy, improved visuals, a new career mode, and dedicated servers for multiplayer games. Here's more:
RIDE 4 features a cutting-edge level of visual fidelity, bringing to life authentic and lifelike replicas of the most iconic motorcycles, and a unique gameplay experience, with a completely renewed Career mode, that brings the player into fast-paced challenges all over the world and culminate with ultimate Championships with the most powerful Sportbikes, including a brand-new Endurance mode, the hardest challenge that only the best virtual riders can face. This new game mode allowed Milestone to boost the level of realism and authenticity with dynamic lighting and weather conditions, and Pit Stops for tires and fuel management. When the competition gets tough, strategy becomes crucial to succeed!

A VISUAL MASTERPIECE. All bike models in RIDE 4 have been created from the ground up using the most advanced technologies and the original CAD and 3D scans of real models, to bring to life authentic and lifelike replicas of the most iconic motorcycles, even the rarest and most exclusive ones. Every single bike detail has been carefully reproduced as in their real-life counterparts. Even the cockpit is a perfect reproduction of the real thing, both in terms of design and dynamic elements. The data on the dashboard changes in real-time, speed, temperature, traction control…even the oil bottle vibrates according to the movements of the bike! RIDE 4 is an act of love made by bike enthusiast for bike enthusiast.
Continue here to read the full story.

Darwin Project Stops Evolving

A blog post from Scavengers Studio says it is "with a heavy heart" that they announce they are ceasing development of new features for Darwin Project, their battle royale game (thanks VG247). The game launched out of Early Access in January, and while servers should stay online at least through the rest of the year, they say its April update will be its last for the foreseeable future:
Five years ago, we started Darwin Project, our first project. It was a very bold and ambitious one to say the least, and we have been fortunate enough to have worked on it for so long, with the support of our partners and community. Over the past years, we saw a decreasing playerbase, and have been working hard on finding solutions –from a new platform development (PS4) to bringing new content (class system, battle passes, systemic maps, customizable craftwheel, new tiles, live events), spectator interactions extension, and continuous optimizations. We have assessed all potential solutions and scenarios, but unfortunately, Darwin Project is unable to sustain itself thus forcing us to come to this very difficult decision. We are still very proud to see what had started as a scribble on a piece of paper become a fully released game that has reached millions of players. We will keep Darwin Project servers up at least through to the end of the year, and you will still be able to play the game.
Continue here to read the full story.

More on VALORANT Cheating Prevention

In a new post to the VALORANT blog, Riot Games further discusses recent changes to curtail the aggressive behavior of the Vanguard software they use to fight cheating in their competitive tactical shooter (thanks The Loadout). Here's the latest from anti-cheat lead Paul Chamberlain:
We’ve heard feedback from players that it felt like Vanguard was being overbearing in its approach to security so we’re taking another approach. As of last week, Vanguard’s compatibility with vulnerable software packages has been expanded. While a small number of drivers are still blocked, from now on almost all of the software that Vanguard was previously blocking will work properly on Vanguard protected computers.

In the future we’re going to prefer non-invasive solutions to security issues where possible, finding ways for Vanguard, VALORANT and that one weird RGB driver to coexist. If we can’t find a way for them to all work together, we’ll disable the game rather than disable your other software. Only in the most egregious cases will we block any software from running on your computer.

We’re continuing to improve Vanguard and we need your feedback to make good decisions. So please let us know how you feel about our anti-cheat efforts and we’ll do our best to keep everyone (except cheaters) happy.

Dungeons 3 - Complete Collection Next Month

Publisher Kalypso Media and developer Realmforge Studios announce Dungeons 3 - Complete Collection, saying this "definitive Dungeons 3 experience" is due for Windows and consoles on June 26th. This will include the base game, its free content updates, and all seven expansions: Once Upon a Time, Evil of the Caribbean, Lord of the Kings, Clash of Gods, An Unexpected DLC, Famous Last Words and A Multitude of Maps. Here's a trailer for the new anthology and here are more details:
Dungeons 3 - Complete Collection is the ultimate edition of the latest instalment in the popular Dungeons strategy series. Build and manage your own dungeon as an evil Dungeon Lord, recruit new monsters and place cunning traps for unsuspecting adventurers - all while spreading your evil influence and conquering a vast over-world in the comprehensive story campaign. Enjoy a staggering amount of content spread across single player, multiplayer and skirmish modes with this collection spanning the base game, the complete history of content updates and all seven expansion packs!
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The Life of Frederick Sommer Announced

The Appreciative Minimalist announces The Life of Frederick Sommer, a mystery exploration game coming to Windows and macOS. This is expected early next year and it now has a Steam Listing showing a February 2021 release date. They promise "virtual escapism" in this game that involves "the fantasy of quitting your job, buying a boat, and sailing into the sunset," a concept that probably sounded more appealing before the current era of social distancing was upon us. They say this "aims to help gamers explore the cost of escaping reality through a stunning visual simulation," though that last part seems like an exaggeration based on the screenshots on Steam. Here's more:
In The Life of Frederick Sommer you explore a series of flashbacks throughout your life as you repeatedly attempt to escape your daily life, from camping and collecting seashells to poolside reading players can indulge in idyllic escapism.

“As children we make believe that we are the first person to step foot on the moon, we go camping, we lose ourselves. Fast forward twenty years and drinking a bottle of whisky alone in the wilderness isn't exactly socially accepted as a good way to escape from our problems.”

“Sailing away into the sunset sounds idyllic, but what if we take that metaphor to its natural conclusion” creator Zakary Kinnaird says. “The real question is, what happens after the sunset? You wake up one day drifting somewhere in the Caribbean Sea with nothing but a few cans of chilli beans, if you really play things out you realise it doesn't always end exactly how you imagined it would.”
Continue here to read the full story.

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Out of the Blue

It turns out I didn't need to take a photo of the new wildlife crossing sign I mentioned on Tuesday, as one of my neighbors already did. This is a shot of the sign that local authorities installed just days after it was requested. I think it does an excellent job of explaining the situation with just two words. Obviously it is fairly impossible to get some people to drive responsibly under any circumstances. But as I mentioned, I've already seen drivers slowing due to the sign, in fact one just did, literally as I typed these words. You could hear his engine rev down amid a couple of downshifts as he approached. So I'm cautiously optimistic that this will save the lives of some wildlife going forward.

Wildlife Links
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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