Archived News:

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

Epic Games Store Year in Review

Epic Games offers a year in review, looking back at 2020 on the Epic Games Store. They say there are now over 160 million PC users on the store, and that customers spent over $700 million there last year:
As we look back at 2020 on the Epic Game Store, we wanted to take a moment to thank all of our partners who helped us bring joy to so many gamers around the world over the past year. Adapting to constantly changing challenges is no easy feat and we're grateful for this community of developers, publishers, players and creators.Thanks to this community, the Epic Games Store saw historic growth in engagement across the board. There are now over 160 million Epic Games Store PC users. Daily active users are up 192% to 31.3 million daily active players, with a peak CCU 13 million concurrent players this year (up from 7M in 2019). Monthly active users in December rose from 32 million in 2019 to 56 million.

This surge in player growth has also led to an increase in purchasing and play time! In 2020, PC customers on the Epic Games Store spent over $700M of which third party games represented 37% at $265M. Last year, the Epic Games Store community played 70% more hours with a total playtime of 5.70 billion hours in 2020 compared to 3.35 billion hours in 2019.
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Get Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition for Free

As noted above, the Epic Games Store gave away 103 free games over the course of 2020. And today they offer their fourth freebie of 2021 with the giveaway of Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition. As usual, this is yours to keep if you collect it between now and next Thursday. After that their new giveaway will take its place, which they reveal to be For The King. Here's the lowdown on Dandria:
The world of Salt hangs on the brink of collapse. The citizens, once free spirits, now stand oppressed and isolated. But not all is lost, for out of this aether of fear arises a heroine, a ray of hope. Her name is Dandara.

Defy gravity as you jump across floors, walls, and ceilings alike. Discover the mysteries and secrets hidden throughout the world of Salt and its diverse array of characters. Empower Dandara for combat and survival against enemies bent on oppression.

Awaken, Dandara, to bring freedom and balance to this directionless world.

Crystal Dynamics Plans to Unify the Tomb Raider Timeline

A post on Twitter celebrates 25 years of the Tomb Raider franchise. This includes a video where the team at Crystal Dynamics looks back at the series. They also discuss work that's underway to unify the timeline of the various games over the years. This means they will somehow manage to reconcile blocky un-textured Lara, hyper-busty Lara, and modern tortured Lara. Word is:
We envision a future of Tomb Raider unfolding after these established adventures, telling stories that build upon the breadth of both Core Design and Crystal Dynamics' games, working to unify these timelines. With Tomb Raider's extensive history, this is not an easy task, and we ask for your patience as we go through the development process. We don't have plans for a major game announcement in the near future.

Hyper Scape PC Crossplay Launches

Ubisoft announces Takeshi’s Team Deathmatch (TDM) Party event is now available in Hyper Scape, featuring exclusive rewards. This comes along with title update 4 for the free-to-play battle royale, which adds new cosmetics, improvements to combat and game modes, and launches full crossplay, allowing PC and console players to compete in the same games. Here are the details:
Takeshi’s Team Deathmatch Party Event
Running from January 28 to February 9, Takeshi’s Team Deathmatch Party is a limited-time event that invites players to take part in super fast-paced and intense Team Deathmatch battles. Players can earn cosmetic rewards exclusive to the event while completing the following challenges:

  • Play 5 matches in Team Deathmatch: Get exclusive Weapon Skin "CITY POP RIPPER"
  • Win 1 match in Team Deathmatch: Get exclusive Champion Outfit “TAKESHI CITY POP"
  • Win 10 matches in Team Deathmatch: Get exclusive Emote "B-BOY"

Once players complete one or all three dedicated in-game challenges, each corresponding item will be automatically added to their in-game Locker.

PC Crossplay
Starting today, PC crossplay is available, allowing PC players to be placed in the same global matchmaking pool as players on PlayStation and Xbox.

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The Medium Released

The Medium is now available for Windows and consoles, offering the latest horror game from genre specialist Bloober Team. The Windows edition is offered through the Epic Games Store, GOG.com, Green Man Gaming*, and Steam (*Blue's News may receive a commission on sales of this item). There's an article on the GeForce Website detailing all the fancy schmancy visuals the PC edition can achieve on NVIDIA graphic cards. The Official Launch Trailer features a creepy look at the game and a listen to music from Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Akira Yamaoka, known for their collaboration on the Silent Hill series. Here's a modicum of Medium meandering:
Discover a dark mystery only a medium can solve. Explore the real world and the spirit world at the same time. Use your psychic abilities to solve puzzles spanning both worlds, uncover deeply disturbing secrets, and survive encounters with The Maw - a monster born from an unspeakable tragedy..

The Medium is a third-person psychological horror game that features patented dual-reality gameplay and an original soundtrack co-composed by Arkadiusz Reikowski and Akira Yamaoka.

Wield unique psychic abilities reserved for those with the gift. Travel between the realities or explore them both at the very same time. Use the Out of Body experience to investigate places where your real-world self can’t go. Create energy shields and deliver powerful spirit blasts to survive the spirit world and its otherworldly dangers.
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Sword of the Necromancer Unsheathed

Grimorio of Games and JanduSoft now offer the release of Sword of the Necromancer, a dungeon-crawling action/RPG. This is available for PC and consoles, with the Windows/macOS package offered through Steam. Here's the Launch Trailer with a look at some Dragon's Lair meets anime cinematics and some throwback gameplay. Here's word from the cutting edge:
Sword of the Necromancer is a dungeon-crawler action-RPG with roguelike elements where you can revive your defeated enemies to make them fight alongside you. Turn your foes into allies using the forbidden powers of the Sword of the Necromancer and help the rogue Tama reach the dungeon's depths to gather enough power to bring her beloved priestess Koko back from the dead. Assemble a small army of monsters, equip yourself with weapons and relics, and level up to take on the guardians that stand between you and your goal.

Each attempt gets you closer to the Necromancer. Upon death you'll lose all your equipped weapons and monsters, but you will retain part of the level you achieved in your run. As you scour deeper through the dungeon you’ll uncover more of Tama and Koko’s past. Do you think it is dangerous to go alone? Then use the Flask of Homunculus to create a copy of yourself and play with a friend in local co-op! Additionally, there are IR codes that can be scanned to make the game easier. Or harder. The choice is yours!
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Journey To The Savage Planet on Steam

Journey To The Savage Planet is now available on Steam, offering another way to get this science fiction action/adventure. This comes one year to the day after its release on the Epic Games Store. The Steam Announce Trailer takes a steamy look at what to expect, and here are some savage facts:
JTSP is an upbeat first-person adventure game set in a bright and colorful alien world that harkens back to the golden age of sci-fi. As an employee of Kindred Aerospace, players are dropped onto the uncharted planet AR-Y 26, deep in a fictitious, far-away corner of the universe. Launched with high hopes but little equipment and no real plan (or even enough fuel to return home), players are invited to explore, catalog lien flora and fauna and determine if this strange planet is fit for human habitation. This humorous return to the Golden Age of sci-fi can be played as a single-player game or with 2-player online co-op.
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Evening Patches

Immortals Fenyx Rising Demo and DLC Released

A New God is now available for Immortals Fenyx Rising, providing the first DLC for Ubisoft's mythology-based action/adventure. This is available for the Windows edition directly from the Ubisoft Store and from the Ubisoft Store. For those on the fence on whether the deity life is for them, there's also now an Immortals Fenyx Rising demo on the Epic Games Store. Here's a Demo Trailer and here's what the demo offers: "The Immortals Fenyx Rising free demo sends Fenyx on an quest to discover the mysterious secret of the cyclops. Set in an archipelago built exclusively for the demo and inspired by Aphrodite’s region of the game, the demo features a mix of combat, exploration and puzzles designed to get players primed for the full experience." Back to the DLC, we have a trailer for that as well, along with the following description:
Immortals Fenyx Rising: A New God tasks Fenyx with overcoming the Trials of the Olympians to take their rightful place in the inner circle of the Greek pantheon. A New God will allow players to explore Olympos Palace and interact with new gameplay mechanics as they traverse challenging trials built by the gods. Along the way, players will unlock a fresh gear set with fantastic perks fit for a god, such as letting you perform additional jumps.
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Cyberpunk 2077 Hotfix

A new hotfix patch is now available for Cyberpunk 2077, updating the game to version 1.11. This addresses the broken quest in the sci-fi RPG, and restores item randomization to its original state. CD PROJEKT RED notes that they are still investigating the save/loot exploit:
Hotfix 1.11 is available on PC, consoles and Stadia!

This update addresses two issues that appeared after Patch 1.1:

  • Item randomization has been restored to the previous state.

The save/load loot exploit will be investigated further.

  • A bug in Down on the Street quest has been fixed.

It occurred for some players during a holocall with Takemura, when using a save made on version 1.06 with Down on the Street quest in progress at "Wait For Takemura's call" objective. After loading such a save on version 1.1, the holocall would lack dialogue options and block interactions with other NPCs.

Evil Genius 2 in March

Rebellion announces they will begin to dominate the world on March 30th when they release Evil Genius 2: World Domination. The follow-up to their bad guy simulator will come to PC via Steam, and you can see it in action in the new Release Date Trailer. So take a monorail to your office, settle in with your cat, and read on for more on this evil scheme:
As revealed in today’s new “Release Date” trailer featuring brand new gameplay footage, Evil Genius 2 will take over the world with its secret weapon of excellent strategy simulation in just two months’ time.

Developed and published by Rebellion (Sniper Elite 4, Zombie Army 4), Evil Genius 2 lets you live out your dreams of being the bad guy. Build your secret island lair, recruit and train a workforce of loyal minions and powerful henchmen, defend your base from the Forces of Justice and dominate the world stage.
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A Total War Saga: TROY AJAX & DIOMEDES Pack Released

A new AJAX & DIOMEDES faction pack is now available on the Epic Games Store to add new content to A Total War Saga: TROY, Creative Assembly's strategy sequel that so many own since it was free for the first 24 hours of its release. The new DLC comes alongside some free content for all those owners of the game: "This Faction Pack also welcomes free content for all players of A Total War Saga: TROY. This includes access to Hephaestus – the god of blacksmiths & volcanoes – within the pantheon of the gods, and the Divine Craftsman Epic Agent, who can permanently upgrade settlements. Here's a features overview trailer and a rundown on what the pack includes:
Ajax & Diomedes Faction Pack

  • 2 New Factions – Salamis (Ajax) and Argos (Diomedes).
  • 18 new units – Including Salamis Marines, Argive Swordmasters, Ajax's Wall and more.
  • Paragon units – Veteran versions of regular units led by an officer.
  • 4 new faction mechanics.
  • New special event to conquer Troy – Stealing the Palladium.
  • Thebes and its seven gates campaign model and battle map.

Free Content

  • New god – Hephaestus
  • New Epic Agent – The Divine Craftsman

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Prison Architect: Going Green Released

Prison Architect: Going Green is now available for PC and consoles, offering a new add-on for the incarceration simulation of Prison Architect. The Windows, Linux, and macOS edition is available on Paradox Plaza, GOG.com, and Steam, while the Windows version can also be found on Origin. This comes alongside a free update for all Prison Architects called The Glasshouse. Word is: "Wardens will notice some highly-requested community improvements, as well as additional objects, quickrooms, community improvements. The best part - Wardens will also be joined by two new K9 units Shepherd and Bowtie Bandit." There's a Release Trailer for the expansion to make you green with envy, and the feature list explains all:
Going Green Key Features

  • Fruits of Labor: Farming introduces a new type of Prison Labor, allowing prisons to grow potatoes, wheat, apples, and more. Produce can be exported or used as ingredients for inmate meals.
  • Room to Grow: Three outdoor rooms facilitate farming: Fruit Orchard, Farm Field and Vegetable Allotment. But that’s not all, players can recruit staff Farm Workers, build a Pantry to store produce, and construct a Shed to house farming-related items.
  • Best Buds: Inmates who enjoy nature’s beauty can grow flowers and other plants recreationally. Gardening affects inmates and gives them a positive recreation activity.
  • Trouble is Brewing: With new crops comes new contraband. Prisoners can now secretly grow herbs in the fields and swipe kitchen ingredients to brew Booze. Fields can also become Gang Turf, so keep your guards on alert!
  • A Greener New Deal: Prisons get an eco-friendly makeover with Solar, Wind, and Solar/Wind Hybrid power sources. Excess power created by these sustainable methods can be sold back to the grid using the Power Export Meter.

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Handball Manager 2021 Released

Handball Manager 2021 is now available for Windows on Steam, offering a sports management simulation based on the Olympic sport that enjoys its greatest popularity in Europe. This carries a 10% launch discount between now and February 4th. A new trailer takes a look at the game, and this handy description explains further:
Handball Manager 2021 brings us back to the court to put ourselves in the shoes of a handball club manager. Sign the best players for your team, train them effortfully and win as many trophies as you can.

Handball Manager 2021 contains the official licenses of LIQUI MOLY Handball-Bundesliga –the German league– as well as it’s second division, Liga Sacyr ASOBAL –the Spanish league– and STRABAG RAIL Extraliga –the Czech league.

Netmin’s Handball Manager saga was born in 2006 and since then, 5 main games and a spin-off have been published. The game is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure as part of the federal government's computer game funding with 93.273 EUR.
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Curious Expedition 2 Released

Curious Expedition 2 is now available on Steam, offering a sequel from the machine men at Maschinen-Mensch to their narrative roguelike. The Launch Trailer provides a look at the game's hand-drawn art style, and the announcement should help satisfy your curiosity:
In a reimagined late 19th Century, it is 1886 and the world is waiting with bated breath in the lead up to Paris World’s Fair. During this time, an immense discovery has been made: mysterious islands in the oceans have begun to appear, only to vanish soon afterwards, as if by magic. The three great Explorer Clubs of Paris are now funding expeditions to these strange islands in a bid to make bold new discoveries, to be exhibited in their stands at the upcoming World's Fair. Take on the role of an intrepid explorer, assemble your crew, and come across all manner of unique cultures, flora, fauna, treasures and more. With a timeless art style inspired by the classic Franco-Belgian comics of the 20th century and an arrestingly charming orchestrated soundtrack, Curious Expedition 2 is a pulp adventure storybook come to life.
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Razer's 8K Mouse

Razer announces Razer HyperPolling Technology, a new proprietary to drastically increase the polling rate for gaming mice to 8000Hz. We will present this without questioning its practical value, lest we reveal that we lack the lightning fast reflexes that would presumably take advantage of this quantum leap in responsiveness. For an expert analysis, there's already a review on Tom's Hardware. Here's more on this mouse so fast it hertz:
Razer™, the leading global lifestyle brand for gamers, today announced their new proprietary Razer™ HyperPolling Technology, debuting in the new Razer Viper 8KHz mouse, the world’s first esports gaming mouse with true 8000Hz polling rate. Razer HyperPolling Technology surpasses the industry-standard 1000Hz polling rate with a true 8000Hz polling rate for performance at the speed of thought, ushering in a new era of gaming responsiveness, speed, and reliability.

Currently, most top gaming mice support polling rates of up to 1000Hz, and whilst manufacturers have focused on making mice more accurate and responsive, little consideration has been given to the frequency with which click and positional data is transmitted to the PC. With faster PCs and higher refresh rate monitors, higher polling rates can eliminate annoying micro-stutters, significantly improving gameplay performance when a fraction of a second can be the difference between winning or losing.

Op Ed

  • GamesIndustry.biz - Piracy:Does it matter?
    "The problem of piracy is an emotionally charged one, but you'll need to somehow set that aside to objectively evaluate all the above points. Your anti-piracy measures should be designed exactly and only to bring the least harm to you, your business, and your paying players."

Out of the Blue

Happy Data Privacy Day! Hard to argue with that, except to say that the horse is probably already out of the barn for most of us. Still, it's worthwhile to be prodded to reexamine privacy settings on the various online services we all use. As for those with accounts here, I can reassure you that the scant information you share with us is never used to anything other than the stated purpose of forum administration, and for supporters, providing the ad-free version of the site.

Obituary: Actress Jeanette Maus, Most Recently Known For Role In Resident Evil Village, Dies At 39.

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