Archived News:

Wednesday, Mar 17, 2021 Happy St. Patrick's Day

Epic Games Store Adding Social Features

Epic Games announces plans for new social features to be added to the Epic Games Store. These include a new party system and player cards. The post also outlines other enhancements, including improved search, a minimized view, and a do not disturb feature. Here's the party line:
Party System Intro
In the future, the Epic Games Launcher will feature a new party system that enables players to group together and communicate via voice, text, and more. You’ll drop in or drop out at any point of a party experience with shared controls among all teammates. Talk to your friends and teammates whether you are playing a game or hanging out while searching for a new game to play together.

Party Window
The Party System coming soon will feature an “Active Party Window”, a dedicated window for the Party you are actively engaging in. In this window you’ll have a host of options with your friends and teammates to communicate and play. Share your latest highlights to convince your friends to play a game with you or kick off a match with only a few friends in the group while being able to continue talking to your entire Party.
Continue here to read the full story.

Dying Light 2 Still Due This Year

Dying Light 2 Update - March 2021 is a brief video from Techland discussing the status of Dying Light 2, following the recent admission that the action/RPG sequel was announced too early. This starts with a mean tweets segment worthy of any of the late night shows, before segueing to an update on the game's status. Word is: "This is a huge and complex project, and we needed time to make sure it will live up to our vision. All of us here are putting our hearts into delivering a game that you will play for months. We'll be ready to start talking about Dying Light 2 very, very soon." The clip includes some gameplay footage that ends by showing they still expect to release the game this year. The clip concludes with an invitation to the Dying Light Discord, saying there's a channel there to post questions about Dying Light 2 that will be answered by the dev team.
Continue here to read the full story.

The Outer Worlds Murder on Eridanos Committed

Murder on Eridanos is now available for Windows on the Epic Games Store, the Microsoft Store, and Steam, offering a new narrative expansion for The Outer Worlds, Obsidian's science fiction RPG. This requires the base game, and is sold individually or at a discount as part of The Outer Worlds Expansion Pass where it's bundled with the Peril on Gorgon expansion. Here's the Official Opening Cinematic as well as an all singing, all dancing Official Musical Launch Trailer. Here's an outline of the mystery at the heart of this new content:
Venture to the skies of Eridanos and unravel the grandest murder mystery in the Halcyon colony! Everyone is a suspect in this peculiar whodunit after Rizzo’s hired spokesperson, the famous Halcyon Helen, winds up dead ahead of the release of the brand-new Spectrum Brown vodka. Alongside your companions, travel across the floating islands of Eridanos and piece together clues using the Discrepancy Amplifier, a new gadget that highlights otherwise unseen hints. There’s more to this mystery than meets the eye, and it’s up to you (and your crew, if you choose) to solve the case.
Continue here to read the full story.

Over 30,000 Banned in Yesterday's Warzone Banwave

PC Gamer has more on yesterday's banwave in Call of Duty: Warzone, as Activision tells the site this knocked off over 30,000 accounts. PC Gamer busted out their calculator and estimate these bans have removed over 100K accounts, their post expresses some skepticism of how effectively cheating can be countered in a free-to-play battle royale:
If you add up the ban waves since the start of the year with others that happen outside of specific waves, Activision has likely removed around 100,000 accounts in 2021 so far. That's a pretty huge number on its own, but it's not clear if the community is feeling the impact of it. Warzone attracts millions of players every day. A big chunk of that playerbase is on PC, where installing Warzone hacks and cheats is remarkably easy, and crossplay allows cheaters to put console players in their crosshairs.

Op Ed

  • GamesIndustry.biz - Accessibility in games is advancing -- now marketing needs to catch up - Opinion.
    "Other areas of marketing need to be accessible as well, not just social media. Not taking the time to ensure assets are accessible, for example, means a chunk of your potential audience is left out of the excitement that others get to experience. Making a trailer, teaser, or even a dev diary? Make subtitles to go along with them. YouTube has a tool for creating subtitles, many editing programs are able to create subtitle files, and transcription programs can automatically turn audio into text to some degree. These methods can be used to provide closed captions -- a subtitle file uploaded to a video platform -- which usually allow the user to toggle and customise the presentation of the text."

Into the Black

Last Link of the Day: "Justified" Team Reunite, Raylan Returns? I'm down. I liked that show.

Obituary: Sabine Schmitz, Queen of the Nurburgring and Former Top Gear Presenter, Dies at 51. Thanks brother19.

DOOM Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part Two Tomorrow

A new Official Trailer for DOOM Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part Two reveals the conclusion of the DOOM Slayer saga will be released tomorrow. We can't embed it because it's age-restricted. Here's word on the release:
Experience the epic conclusion to the DOOM Slayer’s saga – available March 18th, 2021! The Ancient Gods – Part Two is the second campaign expansion to the critically acclaimed DOOM Eternal. You denied the gods and awoke an ancient evil. Now rally the scattered Sentinel armies, lay siege to the last bastion of Hell, break through the fortress walls, and face the Dark Lord himself. The soul of the universe hangs in the balance.

Your war against Hell ends here.

PAYDAY 2 Dragon Pack Released

OVERKILL and Starbreeze announce the launch of a new Dragon Pack on Steam which adds a new heist and new cosmetics to PAYDAY 2, the heist-heavy co-op shooter. This second chapter of the City of Gold campaign comes along with an update for the base game with a number of bug fixes, a complete overhaul of damage range multipliers for weapons, a couple of free cosmetics, and the addition of Korean language support. Here's what you get in the new DLC:
Dragon Heist
Working on behalf of Jiu Feng, the gang make their way towards an innocent-looking tea house in San Francisco's Chinatown. Where more than tea is sold to those who know the right people. However, as we all know the PAYDAY gang does not bother with invitations. Crash the party with an RPG as your entry ticket or sneak into the store through the shadows cast by the lanterns.
The choice is yours.

Tea Shop Tailor Set
As part of this DLC, we are also including a full set of cosmetics with 2 suits, 4 masks, and 4 gloves, so you are sure to find your look. Don a sleek look with the Wushu or embrace the dragon with the Triad Casual. You could also wear the free Dragon Bomber suit if you want a more modern look. Put on the Laughing Dragon or Shouting Dragon masks to mirror your prowess with a rifle. Wear the Mahakala mask to demonstrate your rage in combat. The Serenity mask will show your calm nerves as the bullets fly. Finish the look with one of the Dragon Claw gloves or maybe the modern look of the Burnout Champ is more your style. Don’t forget to kit out your gun with the free Crimson Goldflower weapon color.

Xbox Game Pass Gets EA Play Tomorrow

The Xbox Game Pass Team announces that EA Play will launch tomorrow on PC for Xbox Game Pass Members:
Since teaming up with Electronic Arts, we’ve been working to provide Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and PC members an EA Play membership at no additional cost. We want to thank the PC community for your patience over the past few months as we worked to deliver a better Xbox App experience for EA Play. We’re excited to share with you that starting tomorrow, March 18 at 2:00 p.m. PT, Xbox Game Pass PC and Ultimate members will be able to enjoy all the benefits of EA Play on Windows 10, including:

  • More than 60 of EA’s biggest and best PC games like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, FIFA 20, Titanfall 2 and Need for Speed Heat, as well as titles from some of EA’s most popular franchises like Battlefield, Madden NFL, Command & Conquer, and The Sims.
  • Rewards each month from your favorite EA games. March rewards include: Gold Team Fantasy MUT packs and an EA Play Celebration Pack for Madden 21, a N7 Weapon Charm for Apex Legends and more.
  • And starting on day one of EA Play on PC with Xbox Game Pass, members can play the new-to-Play List title Star Wars: Squadrons on PC and console. Master the art of starfighter combat in the authentic piloting experience, feel the adrenaline of first-person multiplayer space dogfights alongside your squadron, and buckle up in a thrilling Star Wars story.
  • Exclusive in-game challenges and rewards, special member-only content, and discounts on EA digital purchases via EA Desktop app beta.
    Access to trials of games for up to 10 hours from best-loved franchises and top titles like FIFA 21.

Continue here to read the full story.

Age of Empires IV Fan Preview Broadcast Next Month

Xbox Wire has details on a Fan Preview Broadcast on April 10th at noon EDT to show off Age of Empires IV, the next installment in the venerable real-time strategy series. Here's the plan:
Wololo! The Age of Empires team is so excited to announce today that we’ll be celebrating the franchise with a new event, Age of Empires: Fan Preview. The event will consist of a half-hour broadcast kicking off at 9 a.m. PT on April 10 and will be hosted on AgeofEmpires.com, Twitch, Facebook Live, the Xbox YouTube channel and Bilibili for our fans in China. For one week following the broadcast, we’ll be opening up a limited-time digital experience on AgeofEmpires.com to continue celebrating with the community.

Whilst we don’t want to spoil everything we have in store, we know that you’ve been patiently waiting for more glimpses of Age of Empires IV since the first trailer at X019. Our broadcast will include a new look at gameplay, civilizations, campaign and more! We’ll also be sharing some exciting news for our Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition and Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition players too.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Aerosoft CRJ 550/700 Takes Off

Xbox Wire has details on a new "highly complex" aircraft add-on for Microsoft Flight Simulator. The Aerosoft CRJ 550/700 is now available in the game's add-on store, offering the chance to be an amateur pilot of a commercial airliner without having to go all Frank Abagnale. Here's the flight plan:
The new Canadair regional jets released today have a capacity of 50-100 passengers and feature a three cabin layout. These planes are used by many airlines around the world and are known for their efficiency, low operating cost and safety. In flight simulators, these jets are also very popular with hobbyist airplane pilots as these planes are often used on routes that are less than three hours in duration and are perfect for a flight session.

This unique add-on was created in close and fruitful collaboration with Microsoft and Asobo Studio, and we’ve ensured that all available features of Microsoft Flight Simulator have been implemented. The CRJ is simulated in its complete complexity right up to the smallest of details – even the cockpits include nearly all systems, operating just like the real aircraft, including the complex Flight Management System (FMS), the electronic Flight Bag and the Head-up Guidance System (HGS) in a never-before-seen visual and technical quality that will thrill ambitious pilots.

Crooks Like Us Early Access

Early Access to Crooks Like Us is now underway on Steam, offering the first chance to try Out of Tune Games' party game of competitive kleptomania. Here's a trailer showing off madcap gameplay where players steal things like cars by actually carrying them to the escape van. Steal a glance at these details:
The 1-8 player party game drops players into riotous robbery scenarios where the goal is to collect as many valuables as possible and get back to the escape van before time runs out.

Balancing more items at once will earn bigger score multipliers, but the Crooks become more difficult to control with each additional item on their stack.

Rival Crooks are out to ruin your plans and will throw items or dash into you, sending your stack sprawling around the room. If that’s not enough, each player also has the option to jump into the van at any point and make use of hilarious gadgets such as dropping anvils, making earthquakes, causing power cuts and more!
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Legends of Ellaria Leaves Early Access Next Month

Larkon Studios announces that Legends of Ellaria will graduate from Early Access on Steam on April 1st (no fooling). This will mark the launch of the full single-player campaign story mode as the final content update for the action/RPG and RTS hybrid. Here's the previously released Early Access Trailer with a look at gameplay, and here's more on the game:
Legends of Ellaria is a unique blend of first-person adventure, real-time strategy and roleplaying sandbox game where you can build your own kingdom, fight epic battles and explore an immersive fantasy world. You play as a lord who flees from a dying world with his subjects, founding a new kingdom in the world of Ellaria -- a crossroad between dimensions where other factions and races have settled, just like you, and fight for control over the priced magical resource of the Riftstones. Explore a vast world in first-person adventures, build your cities and kingdom in real-time strategy mechanics, command your armies and lead them from the front lines, or send your heroes and generals to lead your forces for you!
Continue here to read the full story.

Mortal Online 2 Stress Test This Month

STAR VAULT announces a server Stress Test Weekend for Mortal Online 2, the upcoming first-person fantasy MMORPG sequel. This will get underway on March 25th at 1:00 pm EDT and run until 8:00 pm on March 28th. The goal is to ensure server stability prior to the game's launch later this year. Applications are being accepted on the Mortal Online 2 Website, and not to stress you out, but this is on a first-come, first served basis. Here's more on the plan:
Experience the freedom of a true sandbox MMORPG with thousands of online players. In Mortal Online 2, a player's reputation is everything. Whether you're good or evil, rumours of your accomplishments will spread across the world. Hunt, craft, tame beasts, murder, explore or forge an empire!

The purpose of the test will be to push hardware limits, test progression systems and receive large amounts of valuable feedback from the community, as an initial simulation of upcoming Persistent Early Access.

Empire of Ember Early Access This Month

Poleaxe Games announces its action/RPG Empire of Ember will be playable earlier than expected, as it will launch into Early access on Steam on March 31st. The game was announced for a full launch this summer, and that is still the plan. But it is now fully playable, and those who join Early Access during the first week will get a discount. Here's more on the goals of this plan: "During its early access phase, Poleaxe Games plans to post regular development updates to the games website with plans to offer a new forum specifically for their early access users. Poleaxe Games is looking to gain constructive feedback in order to put the finishing touches to the game and invites players to join its Discord page here." Here's a description:
Empire of Ember is fully playable, with the opportunity to play through dungeons, overland combat, siege combat, and certain major campaign missions. Empire of Ember intends to stay in Steam early access until the summer, with developer Poleaxe Games utilizing community and player feedback to further hone the game before its full launch later in 2021.”We can complete all current features in about three months with an additional three months of balancing and testing. However, it's important to us to hear from the community and incorporate that feedback into the game. We'd rather take extra time to make sure the whole experience is as fun as possible. Community feedback will help us determine what to prioritize.” Said Kevin Jenkins, CEO of Poleaxe Games.

Blending first-person ranged, melee, and magical combat, Empire of Ember will include a light RTS strategic element, allowing players to unleash the might of an army of NPCs to fight alongside in hundred-unit battles. The games narrative is tied into the game's persistent world from a script by former Telltale Games lead writer Patrick Kevin Day. Additionally the game also allows players to design, decorate and defend their own fully destructible 3D kingdoms that they can also explore in first person.

Mystery Waters Announced

Slovenian developer Team Atomnius announces Mystery Waters, a game that will put the player in the role of a scuba diver exploring the ocean. Like the title, this is a bit mysterious for now, but the official website says this will eventually launch on Steam. In the meantime, you can sign up there to express interest in participating in the beta test. Here's a not very deep dive into what to expect:
Mystery Waters is a first-person game about finding the hidden treasures and exploring infinite procedurally generated underwater terrain with the help of clever clues. Can you find them all?

The clues are given to you by NPCs and your mission is to deduct which are true and will guide you in the right direction. The more treasures you find, more coins you get so you can upgrade your equipment.

While looking for treasures and lost trinkets you can explore the colourful underwater world full of different flora and fauna.

Morning Crowdfunding

  • CartographR: Augmented Reality Tabletop Terrain Builder by Cartographr — Kickstarter. "CartographR is a collaborative app for Tabletop RPGs that aims to reinvent the way tabletop roleplayers build visual experiences for their players. It combines an intuitive user interface with beautiful, 3D graphics to bring your gaming worlds to life, empowering you and your players to experience the worlds you’ve imagined together—even when apart—in real time."

Out of the Blue

Happy St. Paddy's Day! I'm not experiencing the luck of the Irish here in the Blue Tower, as I was greeted by an email outage this morning. It's come back since, but it's still way behind, so if you sent something in that I failed to deal with yet, it is due to this setback.

I'm a mutt, but I think I have very little actual Irish, if any, in my background, but I decided to celebrate the occasion anyway, and currently have a pot of corned beef on the stove. After a while I'll add the other ingredients for a proper batch of corned beef and cabbage. It might be apparent from my postings on the topic, but I am one of those people who has taken up a lot more cooking during the lockdown, and I have greatly enjoyed expanding my horizons beyond Manstovia and the occasional batch of chili. My mom was very big on cooking, and I know this development would please her, which pleases me as well.

Obituary: James Levine, Former Metropolitan Opera Music Director, Dead At Age 77.

Green Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

Science

Media

The Funnies

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