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Thursday, Apr 29, 2021

Get Epic Champions of Renown for Free

Epic Games is offering an Epic Champions of Renown pack for free to everyone who logs into Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms, the Dungeons & Dragons strategy management video game. Epic also announces Pine will be the next giveaway one week from today. Word is the Epic Champions of Renown is a $100 value:
LOG IN NEXT WEEK: All players who log into Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms through the Epic Games Store between Thursday 4/29/2021 at 11AM Eastern and Thursday 5/6/2021 at 11AM Eastern will receive the Epic Champions of Renown!
The Epic Champions of Renown includes:

  • Unlocks for the following Champions: Spurt (Slot 3), Krull (Slot 6), Black Viper (Slot 7), Hew Maan (Slot 8), and Nova V'Ger (Slot 11)
  • Spurt Chests: 16 Gold Spurt Chests with 2 guaranteed Shiny equipment cards
  • Krull Chests: 16 Gold Krull Chests with 2 guaranteed Shiny equipment cards
  • Black Viper Chests: 16 Gold Black Viper Chests with 2 guaranteed Shiny equipment cards
  • Hew Maan Chests: 16 Gold Hew Maan Chests with 2 guaranteed Shiny equipment cards
  • Nova Chests: 16 Gold Nova Chests with 2 guaranteed Shiny equipment cards
  • Two Familiars: Baby Spurt & Iris the Beholder

This offer is available to all players logging in through the Epic Games Store, both new and existing. You must install and log into Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms to receive the Epic Champions of Renown.

Mandalorian Game Rumor

A Mandalorian game is in the works, according to tweets from Nick, aka Shpeshal_Ed. Nick/Ed is co-founder of XboxEra and considered to be a credible source for leaks such as this. Apparently his initial scoop was that both a Mandalorian game and Funko Pop are coming, but that tuned out to be only half right:
Ok, so liiiiittle bit of a whoopsie. Yeah, there's going to be a Mando game. But um...that's apparently not a Mando Funko. I might have just said something I wasn't supposed to yet. Hoping I didn't just burn my source. Got some apologising to do.

Predator: Hunting Grounds on Steam

The PlayStation.Blog has the news that the PC edition of Predator: Hunting Grounds is now available on Steam after launching just over a year ago on the Epic Games Store. Word is the Predator action game supports crossplay between the Epic Games Store and Steam, but game progress is stored separately on each platform. The Steam release comes along with the game's April update, adding a new map and other new features. Here's a bit on the new Airstrip map, which sadly does not seem to include a choppa:
Deep in the jungle, the Stargazer mercenary fleet has an airstrip they use to smuggle goods in and out of the area. The Airstrip map will challenge the player’s skills once again; not only will it push your vertical limits fighting on hangar roofs and run-down radio towers, its open areas will leave you feeling vulnerable. Guerilla snipers wait to pick you off one-by-one, and broken sight lines leave you easy prey as Fireteam. The Predator is forced to calculate its every move as entering this space forces you into hand-to-hand combat without an easy escape to the trees. There are places to hide, but if you seek shelter in a plane and the Predator sees you, just know you’re not getting past it unless it wants you to.

Iron Harvest Free Weekend; New DLC Coming

A free weekend is now underway on Steam for Iron Harvest, the alternate-history dieselpunk game sometimes known as Iron Harvest 1920+. If you check this out and get caught up in it, the game is on sale this weekend for 50% off, almost like it was planned this way. In other Iron Harvest news, Publisher Deep Silver and developer KING Art also announce a new DLC called Operation Eagle is coming on May 27th, adding a new Usonia faction to the game's fictional depiction of a protracted World War I. This will come to GOG, Epic, and Steam, but there will also be a standalone release on Steam: "Iron Harvest: Operation Eagle releases on GOG, Epic, and as a Steam exclusive standalone version. The Steam standalone version will not require the base game to play the exclusive DLC content, the intro campaign, co-op and multiplayer with the two factions “Usonia” and “Polania”. The base game content (original campaigns, Rusviet faction, Saxony faction and the challenge maps) will be available as a DLC for the Steam standalone version." The New Faction Trailer and the description of this referencing stars and stripes spills the beans that this is the game's version of the United States:
Stars, Stripes, and. . . Giant Dieselpunk Zeppelins?!
Hell yeah! The new Operation Eagle add-on will release on May 27th with:

  • The new Usonia Faction with over 20 new units
  • The Usonia Campaign (Singleplayer & Coop) with more than 25 minutes of new cinematics
  • Three new playable heroes
  • New flying units for all factions
  • New structures and anti-air defences for all factions
  • New Multiplayer Maps
  • New playable allies from a yet to be revealed secret faction
  • Dozens of new skins & seasons to come!
Continue here to read the full story.

GTFO Rebirth Update

A new "Rebirth" update for GTFO is now available on Steam, adding new content to this co-op horror/shooter for Windows from 10 Chambers. The Rebirth Gameplay Trailer shows off what's called the game's biggest expansion yet. Would you like to know more?
10 Chambers Collective — a Swedish game development studio composed of industry veterans known for PAYDAY: The Heist and PAYDAY 2 — are proud to announce today the release of the “Rebirth” update for their cooperative horror shooter GTFO on Steam. As the game’s fifth major title update (dubbed Rundowns), Rebirth is the game’s biggest expansion yet, introducing a new ecological sector to the game’s evolving underground facility, The Complex. The Rebirth Rundown takes GTFO players to new depths, flush with fauna, unique mission scenarios, horrifying monsters to face, and it introduces new, juicy gameplay mechanics.

Described as “Left 4 Dead meets Aliens,” GTFO is a terrifying, hardcore cooperative multiplayer shooter where good teamwork means the difference between life and death. The game uses a concept called Rundowns, which are regular game updates that add new limited-time expeditions (maps, scenarios, enemies, etc.) that completely replace the previous Rundown. Cast in a four-player team of prisoners held against their will by a mysterious entity called The Warden, survival depends on a team’s ability to communicate, coordinate, and manage their ammunition — else they doom themselves to a bloody, messy death. To the Warden, they’re all expendable.
Continue here to read the full story.

Legend of Keepers Leaves Early Access

Legend of Keepers is now officially available on PC, Stadia, and Switch, offering Early Access to this roguelite dungeon defense game Goblinz Studio calls a reverse dungeon crawler. The Windows, macOS, and Linux edition can be found on GOG.com, the Humble Store*, the Epic Games Store, and Steam (). Here's what's new for the launch: "New launch features in Legend of Keepers include five additional monsters, ten extra events, traps, champions, a whole new hero class, and two hero-killer game modes: Ascension and Endless. Ascension Mode adds 20 levels of cumulative challenges to really test your monster chops. In Endless Mode, the level cap for monsters and traps is gone, so put your ugly foot down and see how far you can get towards the dungeon horizon." Take a look at the Launch Trailer and the description:
Each run will be different but players will keep some of their Master's bonuses between runs. Like we've already mentioned, our game is a mix between Roguelite and Dungeon Management. How did we achieve that? By running many tests to find the perfect balance between management and dungeon phases!

First, you will have to plan your defense against a group of adventurers. Check their stats and resistances, then place the best traps and monsters to defeat them! When you think your dungeon is ready, let the crawl begin!

You will then be able to watch those heroes die! It's a reversed dungeon crawler: heroes will move through your dungeon and will trigger the traps you placed. When a group of adventurers encounters a group of monsters you positioned in your dungeon, a turn-based fight will happen!
*Blue's News may receive a commission on sales of this item. Continue here to read the full story.

NARUTO TO BORUTO: SHINOBI STRIKER Season Pass 4 and F2P Version Coming

BANDAI NAMCO announces that Season Pass 4 for NARUTO TO BORUTO: SHINOBI STRIKER is coming later this year, while also revealing that a free-to-play version of the fighting game called NARUTO TO BORUTO: SHINOBI STRIKER LITE will arrive this spring. Both the Season Pass and the lite edition of the game are shown off in this Announcement Trailer. Here's more:
Season Pass 4 for NARUTO TO BORUTO: SHINOBI STRIKER will add five new playable characters to the roster, similar to Season Pass 3, and will have a focus on the theme of “regeneration,” which includes elements of recovery, innovation, and rebirth. Players will also have the opportunity to purchase some ninjutsu available only in the in-game store this coming spring.

Additionally, NARUTO TO BORUTO: SHINOBI STRIKER LITE will release this spring, which gives players a basic free-to-play experience as an upgraded version of the currently available demo. With this version, players will be able to participate in PvP battles, customize their outfits and ninjutsu, open scrolls, and more.
Continue here to read the full story.

WarPlan Pacific Released

Slitherine announces the release of WarPlan Pacific, a second installment in the WarPlan series, is now available on the Matrix Games Store. Proving a picture is worth a thousand words, this trailer offers a complete introduction to the game in just two minutes. Put on your war face and read on for details:
WarPlan Pacific, the second wargame in the WarPlan series, is now available on the Matrix Games Store. WarPlan Pacific is an operational level wargame that covers all the nations at war in the Pacific theatre from December 1941 to 1945 on an impressive game scale.

Warplan Pacific uses the same game system as WarPlan Europe with additional features and improvements.

The game's scale is massive, covering 62 different potential countries, in a map large 50 miles / 80km per hex using a modified Mercator map scaling to allow a flowing game that doesn’t overload the player. The land scale is 15k - 60k men, air scale is 300-400 aircraft and naval scale is one capital ship with support ships.
Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Patches

Valve Hit With Antitrust Lawsuit

Valve is facing another antitrust case, as a class action lawsuit filed in Washington this week accuses it of suppressing competition to its Steam platform. According to Top Class Actions, this is being brought about by lead Plaintiffs Wolfire Games, William Herbert, and Daniel Escobar. Wolfire claims paying "supracompetitive commissions" to Valve, while Herbert and Escobar are PC gamers who say they have also paid "supracompetitive prices for PC Desktop Games" bought on Steam. Word is: "The group alleges that Valve violates federal and state antitrust and unfair competition laws in its domination of the PC gaming market, and is seeking public injunctive relief and damages." Here's more:
According to the claim, Valve, which was founded in 1996 by former Microsoft employees as a video game development company, has illegally monopolized the market and distorted and restrained competition through its Steam Store and Steam Gaming Platform.

“Game publishers are forced to use the Steam Store and give Valve 30% of nearly every sale if they want to gain access to the Steam Gaming Platform—access they need in order to sell,” the claim states, adding that the Steam Gaming Platform is the most popular platform on the market with the most users.
Continue here to read the full story.

Microsoft Lowering Its Store Commission

Speaking of 30% game store commissions, GamesIndustry.biz says Microsoft is lowering its take of revenue from games sold on its store. Like Steam, Microsoft's commission has been 30%, but it will now drop to 12%, matching Epic's rake from the Epic Games Store:
Beginning August 1, Microsoft will reduce its take of net revenues on its PC gaming storefront from 30% to 12%.

"Game developers are at the heart of bringing great games to our players, and we want them to find success on our platforms," Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty said, adding, "A clear, no-strings-attached revenue share means developers can bring more games to more players and find greater commercial success from doing so."

New GeForce Drivers

New version 466.27 GeForce Game Ready Windows Drivers are now available from NVIDIA. As noted in this article, the new drivers include support for the Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition with NVIDIA DLSS 2.0. They also support Mass Effect Legendary Edition, Resident Evil Village, and five new G-SYNC compatible displays. Here's word:
Available for free to all Metro Exodus owners, the PC Enhanced Edition runs exclusively on ray tracing-capable GPUs, leveraging their specialized hardware to introduce new and improved ray-traced effects that make the spectacular game look even better.

Experience new, advanced ray-traced reflections, improved ray-traced global illumination lighting that’s applied to every light throughout the game, and the introduction of ray-traced emissive lighting, previously seen exclusively in The Two Colonels DLC.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick's Pay Cut

A recent Form 8-K filing from Activision Blizzard reveals that CEO Bobby Kotick has agreed to voluntarily reduce his salary and bonuses by 50%. As GamesIndustry.biz breaks it down, it's a little more complicated than it sounds at first. Either way, Bobby probably still won't have to worry about clipping coupons:
As noted in a recent filing, Kotick's agreed-upon base salary has been voluntarily reduced by 50% to align with company targets. This equates to a $875,000 reduction.

In line with this, Kotick has also agreed to reduce his target annual bonus by 50%, a potential reduction of $1.75 million for fiscal years 2021 and 2022.

However, Kotick is still eligible to earn up to 200% of the reduced base salary, due to exceptional factors detailed in an extension amendment.
Continue here to read the full story.

US Video Game Spending Up

Mat Piscatella tweets the NPD Group's analysis of U.S. consumer spending on video games for Q1 of this year. This is 30% higher than the same period last year, though Mat warns that hardware shortages could make the next couple of quarters rough:
Today The NPD Group announced that U.S. Q1 '21 consumer spending on video games reached $14.9B, 30% higher than Q1 '20.

However, keep an eye on the monthly growth rate. Chip shortages, game delays and of course comparing to pandemic months may make Q2-Q3 tougher to comp.

Halo Infinite Getting Crossplay Support

It's been a while since our we've gotten a one of Microsoft's signature recommitments to PC gaming, but the wait is over. Xbox Wire has word on how MS really means it this time. Matt (Sheik Yer) Booty recaps the company's improved support for the PC platform and crossplay. This is continuing going forward, as he outlines crossplay support for Halo Infinite, as well as support for playing console games on PCs via the cloud. Here's more on how Microsoft feels things are going:
We know that we still have a lot of work to do, but based on the response from both PC gamers and PC game developers, we think that we’re headed in the right direction for this community with the investments we’re making. We have never been in a better position as an organization to deliver for PC gamers, with Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda developing content for both PC and Xbox, the Windows and DirectX teams creating technologies that empower developers and provide PC players with features that specifically take advantage of PC hardware, Xbox Game Pass for PC featuring games for every type of PC gamer with Xbox Game Studio games coming on day one, and the ongoing evolution of the Xbox app and Xbox Game Bar. We’ll continue listening to the community to ensure we’re delivering on our promises, and respecting how players choose to play. This is especially true as we head into the second half of 2021, when our work across the entire PC ecosystem has the potential to come together in a way that propels the industry forward and brings great games to more gamers around the world.

Total War: ROME REMASTERED Released

Total War: ROME REMASTERED is now available for Windows, macOS, and Linux on Steam. This is an enhanced version of the first game in Creative Assembly's strategy series that was released back in 2004 under the now backwards-seeming (and under-capitalized) title Rome: Total War. Despite all the water that's gone under the bridge since then, this is being offered at half-price to owners of the original game who pick up the new version before May 31st. The remastered version includes the Alexander and Barbarian Invasion DLCs, as well as a copy of the original ROME: Total War Collection for Windows. And beyond graphical improvements, this also adds crossplay support between Windows, macOS, and Linux, new playable factions, and other improvements. The Release Trailer shows off the game, and here's more:
Out now, Total War: ROME REMASTERED lets you relive the legacy that defined the award-winning strategy game series. With new and improved features such as fully overhauled visuals, ultra-high-definition resolution support, an expanded faction roster and improved accessibility, there has never been a better time to revisit a true classic.
Continue here to read the full story.

HammerHelm Leaves Early Access

Publisher SOEDESCO and developer SuperSixStudios announce that HammerHelm is out of Early Access and is now officially launched on Steam. This Windows game combines town-building and third-person adventuring, as shown off in the Launch Trailer. The description hammers this home:
The dwarves of HammerHelm dream of living above ground, under the sun and clouds. As their leader, you help them establish their home and guide them towards prosperity. Complete quests, craft weapons and armor, defeat dangerous enemies and be the leader your townspeople need. The bigger your town, the bigger your adventure!
Continue here to read the full story.

Evil Genius 2 Cabal Pack Released

A new Cabal Pack is now available on Steam, offering new DLC for Evil Genius 2: World Domination, Rebellion's bad guy sequel. This updates the game with a new henchman, lair equipment, side story objectives, and henchmen skins, as shown off in this trailer. Here's the evil plan:
Out today, The Cabal Pack introduces Espectro as a brand new acquirable henchman, along with accompanying Side Story objectives and plenty more: In full, the pack includes:

  • New Henchman - Espectro
  • New Lair Equipment – the Cabal Indoctrination Chamber. Change the appearances of four other henchmen by giving them the Cabal makeover.
  • New Lair Equipment – the R.A.Y.G.U.N. Interrogation Device
  • Accompanying Side Story objectives

All of the Cabal Pack content will be available in new campaigns.

Continue here to read the full story.

Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 Demo

A playable Windows demo is now available on Steam for Car Mechanic Simulator 2021, a new installment in this grease monkey simulation series. The full game is due later this year (hence the title), and the demo is shown off in this trailer. As seen in the description, this adds new parts and systems to your toolbox:
Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 is new production with well settled playerbase. Start as a fresh owner of a car garage and work your way to service empire. Get your hands dirty in highly realistic simulation game with great attention to details. Get ready to work on 4000+ unique parts and over 72 cars. Roll up your sleves and immerse yourself into highly realistic garage enviroment.

Work your way to service empire. Get your hands dirty in highly realistic simulation game with great attention to details. Pay a visit to a new Auction house and buy cars in various condition. Expand your range of services by investing in new work space and equipment.
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Voxel Battle Simulator Released

Voxel Battle Simulator is now available on Steam, offering a madcap strategy game for Windows from ROOKIEZ FROM WARSAW. The Launch Trailer shows off gameplay and the game's titular voxel graphics. Here's more on VBS, which is also coming to Switch later this year:
Voxel Battle Simulator will let you lead the army of tiny voxel soldiers and vehicles to glorious victory! It is all about careful planning and figuring out the perfect strategy: analyze the battlefield, decide which units you'll need, deploy them in the right positions and watch the battle unfold. Being a commander is not as easy as it might seem though - learn from your own mistakes, adjust your tactics and try again... and again... and again - in Voxel Battle Simulator every unit and move matters!
Continue here to read the full story.

Goose Goose Duck Early Access

Goose Goose Duck is now available in Early Access on Steam for Windows and macOS. This is a free-to-play social deception game set on a spaceship, offering a fowl take on Among Us. In this case the crew is all geese, while the imposters are ducks, despite the contrast between the benign nature of ducks and the unfettered aggression of geese. Here's a Story Cinematic Trailer and more:
Goose Goose Duck is a voice-chat integrated social deception game where players must work together to maintain their spaceship, the SS Mother Goose, during their interplanetary quest while also avoiding malicious Mallards who are out to get them.
Continue here to read the full story.

The Persistence Enhanced in June

Firesprite announces that The Persistence Enhanced will be released on June 4th for Windows, PlayStation 5, and XBOX Series X|S. This will bring graphical improvements to the virtual reality survival/horror game, as shown off in the Official Reveal Trailer. This will be sold as a standalone release, but will be a free upgrade for those who already own the game. Here's more:
The Persistence offers a brutal take on survival-horror that integrates an innovative rogue-lite design into the genre, as players are tasked with surviving aboard a doomed deep space colony starship in the year 2521, repeatedly heading deeper and deeper in the decks of The Persistence on each run, to repair the systems and prevent the ship from being torn apart.

The Persistence Enhanced dials up the atmosphere and tension further with improved lighting and particle effects and the addition of a Raytracing ‘Quality’ mode for XBOX Series X and PlayStation®5, which also includes immersive haptic feedback via DualSense™. DXR implementation is enabled for PCs with a supported graphics card.
Continue here to read the full story.

TUMI Launches Esports Line

Luggage manufacturer TUMI announces the launch of an Esports Collection of bags and backpacks for the gamer on the go. TUMI is a high-end brand, so these may be pricier than you'd expect at first. As an aside, I can add an unsolicited personal perspective, as I bought a TUMI suitcase 25 years ago. After all these years, it still looks absolutely brand-new, even after being horribly overstuffed by MrsBlue for the weekly commutes back and forth to Pennsylvania she took a few years ago. So the quality of my TUMI is off-the-charts, though it bears noting that my suitcase is from before production was moved out of the USA and before the company was acquired by Samsonite. Here's word on the line:
TUMI, the leading international travel, lifestyle, and performance luxury brand, today unveils its pro-level Esports line of bags and accessories. Welcoming in a new client base, TUMI consulted with numerous industry experts from game developers to professional esports athletes to help design top-of-the-line bags that meet, if not exceed, the needs of today's gamers like none before.

TUMI gained unique insight as to what every gamer is looking for when it comes to protecting their prized tech and gear. True to TUMI's DNA, each style has been built to last with the keenest eye for detail and superior functionality. From the aluminum zippers to the unique organization systems, every aspect and touchpoint was created to maximize functionality. TUMI wants the equipment athletes and hobbyists rely on to survive every journey, whether that's on the road, behind the desk or being cheered on by virtual crowds.
Continue here to read the full story.

Out of the Blue

Tonight is the first round of the NFL draft, or as I like to call it, football Christmas. My beloved New York Giants pick 11th. This is the eighth year in a row they are picking in the top half of the draft, but eternal optimist that I am, I prefer to note that it will be the first time since 2014 that the Giants do not pick in the top 10. So here's to escaping being terrible and emerging into the coveted ranks of the mediocre!

Coveted Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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