Archived News:

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Get Pine for Free

If you're pining for an open-world action/adventure, you're in luck, as Pine is now available as a free giveaway from the Epic Games Store, and, yes, Pine is good. This is yours to keep if you snag it by next Thursday. At that time it will be replaced by Epic's next weekly giveaway, The Lion's Song, which is well known to be either Wemoweh or Hakuna Matata. There's another freebie on the Epic Games Store, as it currently offers an Exclusive Starter Pack for World of Warships said to be a $25 value. Here's more on Pine:
An open-world action adventure game set in a simulated world in which humans never reached the top of the food chain. Fight with or against a variety of species as you make your way to a new home for your human tribe.

F2P The Division Heartland Revealed

An Update from Ubisoft on the Tom Clancy’s The Division Universe reveals that a free-to-play game called Tom Clancy’s The Division Heartland is in development at Red Storm. This is expected either this year or next, and those interested in playtesting are encouraged to register here. Work is also underway on a mobile entry in the world of The Division. Here are all the details so far:
While work continues on The Division 2, other Ubisoft teams have been exploring additional ways to introduce The Division to even more players. Today, we’re pleased to share that Tom Clancy’s The Division Heartland, a free-to-play game set in The Division universe, is in development at our Red Storm studio. Having worked on Tom Clancy games since 1997, its extensive experience across numerous genres and games, most recently The Division and The Division 2, makes Red Storm a perfect fit for this project. Heartland is a standalone game that doesn’t require previous experience with the series but will provide an all new perspective on the universe in a new setting. The game will be made available in 2021-22 on PC, consoles, and cloud. Those interested in participating in its early test phases can sign up here.

Heartland isn’t the only new game in development. The Division will also be coming to mobile platforms for the very first time, bringing the universe to an even wider audience. We’ll have more details on this exciting project at a later date.

World Video Game Hall of Fame Inductees

The Strong National Museum of Play announces the 2021 inductees into its World Video Game Hall of Fame. The four honorees are Animal Crossing, Microsoft Flight Simulator, StarCraft, and Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? These were selected from a list of finalists first announced in March:
It’s official! Animal Crossing crossed the finish line. Microsoft Flight Simulator flew past the competition. StarCraft battled its way to victory. And Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? trekked into history. These four iconic games—which have influenced popular culture and the video game industry—today joined the World Video Game Hall of Fame. They emerged from a field of finalists that also included: Call of Duty, FarmVille, FIFA International Soccer, Guitar Hero, Mattel Football, Pole Position, Portal, and Tron.

New AMD Drivers

AMD Support now offers new version 21.5.1 Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition drivers for AMD graphics cards running under Windows. As stated in the release notes, these include support for Resident Evil Village and Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition:
Support For

  • Resident Evil Village™
    • Up to 13% increase in performance in Resident Evil Village @ 4K MAX settings, with Radeon™ Software Adrenalin 21.5.1 on the 16GB Radeon™ RX 6800XT graphics card, versus the previous software driver edition 21.4.1.RS-362
  • Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition™

Fixed Issues

Continue here to read the full story.

Randy Pitchford Drops Borderlands Hint

A tweet from Randy Pitchford disputes a rumor that Gearbox is "assisting" or "co-developing" a new Borderlands game or spin-off, saying: "Gearbox is lead dev of any future games in the Borderlands franchise (or any Borderlands adjacent games) with no co-development." As Kotaku points out, this is a little odd, because the unconfirmed Gamereactor report that prompted Pitchford's tweet said nothing about Gearbox assisting or co-developing, just that a new Borderlands game is near that is not a numbered entry in the series, but rather a "spin-off." In a follow-up tweet, Randy does imply that a new Borderlands game may indeed be in the works, going so far as to call it "the big one":
More: We are definitely working on some amazing stuff that, I hope, will surprise and delight you. Plug: if anyone out there has Skills-To-Pay-Bills and wants to get in on some Borderlands action, we're working on the big one :) https://gearboxsoftware.com/careers/

AI War 2 MP and DLC This Month

Arcen Games announces a May 18th Steam release date for Zenith Onslaught, a new DLC pack for AI War 2, the Windows, macOS, and Linux strategy game set in space, where no one can hear you sing in the shower. The DLC includes major new factions, loads of new planets, and additional major new features including the return of Nomad Planets from the original AI War. The DLC is to be accompanied by a free major multiplayer update for the base game:
Multiplayer remains in beta until the release of this expansion, and right now we're just collecting and fixing last reports of things for specific MP clients. Mostly it is related to multithreading bugs on certain very powerful AMD CPUs, but we're hitting a point where those are diminishing. The multiplayer in this game is something of a unique technical feat, which we did not expect it to have to be. It plays safely with mods, even those with coding errors, and it plays safely with multithreading. The overall approach is novel, but is built up of component parts pulled from multiplayer modes you find in action games, MMOs, and strategy games, rather than just pure strategy games like AI War 1 was coded.

Conan Exiles - Isle of Siptah This Month

Funcom announces the Isle of Siptah expansion for Conan Exiles will leave Early Access and be officially released on May 27th. The announcement also notes that the game will soon join the games available at no extra cost to Xbox Game Pass subscribers. Word is the contractors have been working overtime on renovating the island since it first launched into Early Access:
Cataclysmic changes have been made to Conan Exiles: Isle of Siptah since the expansion was first released into PC Early Access on September 15th, 2020. The landmass has become bigger, the scenery more vivid and diverse – and a new religion has been added, allowing players to summon and control an avatar of the terrifying spider-god Zath. Zath, who has been added even to the base game, can rain throngs of spiders down on your enemies and lay cities to waste with venomous projectiles.

Additionally, three new factions of NPCs have moved to Siptah, and are threatening to conquer the island for their own selfish reasons. To the east, Stygian Mercenaries have begun rebuilding their colony of old. On the western shores, Black Corsairs have established terrifying strongholds for their raiding parties. And near the foreboding tower in the middle of the island, humans have begun allying themselves with the creatures of the outer dark. Known only as the Accursed, these demented souls are threatening to engulf the entire island in darkness.

Demeo Released

Demeo is now available on Steam and the Oculus Store, offering an RPG from Resolution Games that uses virtual reality to create an authentic tabletop experience, with no tabletop required (though in fairness more people own tabletops than VR headsets). There are plans for a future update to add non-VR play that will support cross play between those playing on headsets and primitive types using monitors. Sadly, there is no Demeo Demo, so the Launch Trailer is as close as you can come to sampling what to expect. Here's a further explanation:
A dark force has taken over the underworld in the upcoming RPG dungeon crawler, Demeo, and it’s a world you’re not likely to survive alone.

Terrors and treasure await as you and your friends brave the corrupted catacombs of Demeo together. Choose your champions wisely in this cooperative game, for once you have ventured below you must conquer the nether floors or perish in the attempt. The ultimate outcome depends on your choices, and whether the dice are rolled in your favor…

Will you have the mettle to survive all the way to the end in this monster-infested turn-based game that will take game night virtual in 2021?
Continue here to read the full story.

WoW Burning Crusade Classic Next Month

Blizzard announces progress on the inevitable convergence of modern World of Warcraft and WoW Classic, saying Burning Crusade Classic will offer a return to Outland on June 1st. In just a couple of weeks players will be forced to decide whether to leap forward or hold tight where they are:
Beyond the Dark Portal in the Blasted Lands lies a realm shattered by the machinations of the Burning Legion: Outland, the once beautiful orc homeworld of Draenor. Seek out its mysteries beginning June 1 when Burning Crusade Classic™ launches around the world.

Before that, however, every hero must make a choice. Beginning on May 18, after each regional scheduled maintenance, the Burning Crusade Classic Pre-expansion Patch will be released, and each character must choose whether to advance onward to Burning Crusade, move to a Classic Era realm, or use the Character Clone service to play in both games. Read more about this process.
Continue here to read the full story.

Into the Black

Last Link of the Day: Man uses compressed air to unclog sink, instantly regrets it. Thanks Neutronbeam.

Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition Released

The Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition is now available, offering an updated version of 4A Games' first-person shooter. This is free to all owners of the original version of Metro Exodus, but only those with proper hardware will be able to enjoy it, as its upgraded visuals require a GPU capable of ray tracing. Feast your eyes on this trailer for a look at the improvements. Here's word:
Deep Silver and 4A Games are pleased to announce the launch of the Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition – a radical update that harnesses the power of Ray Tracing-capable GPUs to deliver an incredible visual upgrade. The PC Enhanced Edition is available for FREE to all owners of the original release on Steam, the Epic Games Store, Good Old Games and the Microsoft Store.

Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition offers additional Ray Tracing features including Advanced Ray Traced Reflections and support for the much-requested DLSS 2.0 on NVIDIA hardware, which offers sharper image details and increased framerates and display resolutions. Further collaborating with NVIDIA, this update improves our existing Ray Traced Global Illumination tech innovated with the original release of Metro Exodus to make every light source fully Ray Traced and implements our RT Emissive tech from The Two Colonels throughout the game.

This upgrade is so extensive it will require a Ray Tracing capable GPU as the minimum spec and will be delivered as a separate product – it is not a simple ‘patch’ to the base game – instead it will be offered as an extra entitlement to all existing Metro Exodus PC players.
Continue here to read the full story.

Tencent Fighting to Keep US Gaming Investments

Reuters reports that Chinese conglomerate Tencent is in discussions on how to keep its gaming investments in US companies Riot Games and Epic Games. Word is making such foreign ownership typically involves "ringfencing" to protect national security:
Tencent is negotiating risk-mitigation measures with CFIUS so it can keep its investments, according to the sources. The details of the proposed measures could not be learned. They typically involve ringfencing the owner of a company from operations that have national security implications. They often call for the appointment of independent auditors to monitor the implementation of these agreements.

One of the sources said Epic Games has not been sharing any user data with Tencent.

The sources cautioned there is no certainty that Tencent will clinch deals to keep its investments and asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

Australia Supporting Game Development

The Prime Minister of Australia announces details on "a modern digital economy to secure Australia's future." Included in the sweeping AUD$1.2 billion (~USD$925M) program is a commitment to support game development. GameNews Aus quotes the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association on the news: "The Government’s new investment commitment today will do many things," says CEO of IGEA Ron Curry. "It will spur the creation of brand new Australian game development studios, give existing Australian studios the support they need to take on ambitious new projects and accelerate their growth, plus attract further blockbuster AAA studios to Australia, all of which will create game development jobs in every state." Here's exactly what the PM says about game development:
Investment incentives to support business growth, including a Digital Games Tax Offset of 30 per cent to support Australia taking a greater share of the $250 billion global game development market, and changes to the way Australian businesses can claim depreciation of intangible assets like intellectual property and in-house software.

More E3 2021 Participants

The ESA announces more companies that have committed to participating in E3 2021, this year's virtual installment in the gaming trade show:
The list of companies confirmed for the all-virtual E3 2021 continues to grow with the addition of several high-profile video game publishers and developers, as well as tech, hardware and streaming companies. SQUARE ENIX, SEGA, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment, XSEED Games / Marvelous USA, Inc., Gearbox Entertainment, Freedom Games, Devious Eye Entertainment, Turtle Beach, Verizon and Binge.com are joining the fray and preparing to bring major announcements and reveals to fans throughout E3, which takes place June 12 through June 15.

“E3 2021 is set to continue its legacy as the premier video game industry event as we add new publishers, sponsors and partners'' said Stanley Pierre-Louis, President & CEO of the ESA. “We can’t wait to share more details about this virtual event for audiences around the globe.”

Previously confirmed E3 partners include Nintendo, Xbox, Capcom, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive and Warner Bros. Games.

A growing list of publishers and participating partners can be found on the E3 2021 website.

PC Truck Driver Back on Course

SOEDESCO announces that a PC edition of Truck Driver is back in development at internal developer SOEDESCO Studios. This transport simulation is available for consoles, but development for PC stalled back in 2019. "With this strategic decision, we show our commitment to the development of Truck Driver," explains Bas de Jonge, Senior Marketing Manager at SOEDESCO. "This also ensures that we can bring the game to more platforms without sacrificing attention for the existing versions." Here's the previously released Launch Trailer and a truckload of details:
When you inherit a truck from your father, you decide to take your chance and move to a new city. Here, it’s up to you to make a name for yourself and earn the respect of the local community. Drive through a seamless open world, work with all kinds of people ranging from a constructor to a lumberjack and honor your father by making it as a Truck Driver!
Continue here to read the full story.

Outriders Inventory Fixes Underway

A post on Reddit from Square Enix announces that the long-awaited fixes for missing inventory items in Outriders are now riding out:
Inventory Restoration for Group B characters is now underway and will complete over the next day or so.

As a reminder, here is what you can expect to happen:

  • Group B Restoration:
  • Who will benefit from this Restoration?
    • Players in both Group B and C who "lost" a legendary item up until 20 April 2021.
      • Group B are characters that lost gear but were still playable. Players may have continued playing on these characters since the wipe.
      • Group C are essentially all other players in the Outriders gaming population who did not encounter an inventory wipe.

Vikings: Age Of The Axe Announced

ThunderAxe Games helps support the notion that Vikings are the new zombies with the announcement of Vikings: Age Of The Axe, a first-person melee combat game coming to Steam with a TBA release date. Here's a trailer with a look at gameplay, and here's more in case you want to axe any questions:
GET READY FOR A LONG VOYAGE
Gather warriors, take your weapon and get on your boat to sail through the sea. Choose one of many available locations to raid and go ashore.

PLAN YOUR PLUNDERS
Before starting the raid, it is worth sending a patrol to discover the location of enemy troops and buildings. Choose your targets order and plan the battle to minimize losses.
Continue here to read the full story.

Games for Change Festival Speakers Announced

2021 Games for Change Festival is another free all-virtual event this year, and it's slated to run from July 12-14. The official website for the festival now offers a first list of presenters. Here's more on its mission and those speakers:
“Based on the tremendous success of last year’s event, we are anticipating the 2021 Festival will connect over 10,000 people from 100+ countries,” said G4C President Susanna Pollack. “We have an incredible lineup of diverse speakers ranging from games and XR industry thought leaders, to new voices from underrepresented communities, including a spotlight on Indigenous creators. After a year of quarantine, this is a remarkable time to celebrate the power of games to connect us, provide new pathways for learning, and help with physical and mental health.”
Continue here to read the full story.

USC's Gerald A. Lawson Endowment Fund

GamesIndustry.biz talks with Jim Huntley, an Interactive Media & Games Professor at USC. The topic is the Gerald A. Lawson Endowment Fund, named after the pioneering game developer. This is being established by the school in partnership with Take-Two Interactive to provide support for black and indigenous students. Here's a bit of Jim's explanation of why this is needed:
For Huntley, the need for programs like this has been evident for some time.

"I worked at THQ as part of my career and one thing I noticed in the industry was I was the only Black person in the room in most of the C-suite meetings we had throughout my time there, and that hasn't really changed," he says.

"We're seeing that the percentage of African-American or Indigenous-identifying game professionals working in the industry consistently has hovered around 3-4% for at least a decade if not longer. That number hasn't changed or moved up at all. So we see that's where the greatest need is and where we can help is to make sure those students get exposed to our number one games program and have an inroad into the industry."

Farm Manager 2021 Released

Farm Manager 2021 is now available for Windows on Steam, offering the chance to manage my farm, as long as you keep your hands off my daughter. This new trailer shows off gameplay, and if this captures your interest, the free Farm Manager 2021: Prologue is still available. Remember, as ye sow, so shall ye reap, so here are some details to plow through:
In Farm Manager 2021 you will play the role of a farm manager to face many challenges. Buy new land with abandoned buildings and machines, clean up the land, and expand your farm, by taking care of the size and quality of crops as well as of animal health, motivate employees, and increase machinery and factory efficiency. Meet the new, more intuitive interface that will allow you to manage your employees more efficiently and spot the most important events on the farm.
Continue here to read the full story.

Hell Architect Announced

Developer Woodland Games and publisher Leonardo Interactive announce Hell Architect, a hell of an unusual survival take on the building and management genre. This is expected this (northern) summer on Steam. Put on some flame-proof underwear and check out this Gameplay Trailer. Since the devil's in the details, here's more:
Hell Architect is a game about building and managing your own hell. You take on a role of a hell manager and are tasked with developing the underworld in a way that would make Lucifer himself fall off his chair.

Create a hell of your dreams - will it have the infamous 9 levels, or will you create your own chaos, the way you see fit?
You begin with some basic buildings, like power stations (yup, they need those in hell, too!) and canteens, work your way through shrines and toilets and finish off with some intricate torture contraptions.
Continue here to read the full story.

Out of the Blue

In addition to yesterday being Cinco de Mayo (and yes, I did make my margaritas), it was also the (brace yourself) 29th anniversary of the launch of Wolfenstein 3D. So the logo on our desktop view is changed to honor id Software's World War II game that basically jump-started the first-person shooter genre. Thanks you to Walter "2" Costinak for the art, and to Steve for polishing it up to fit in our current format.

3D Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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