Archived News:

Tuesday, Sep 14, 2021

Call of Duty: Vanguard Open Beta Weekend Details

With weekend two of Call of Duty: Vanguard soon getting underway, Activision Blizzard outlines details on when and how to get in. Things get underway Thursday at 1:00 pm EDT, but PC players will have to preorder to participate at that time. Then on Saturday at 1:00 pm EDT the beta will open to everyone, and two additional playlists will come online. Here's a BETA Weekend 2 Trailer, and this post has everything you need to know in detail, including system specifications. Here's more on open beta content and participation rewards:
At the beginning of this open beta period on September 18, two additional featured playlists will become available: a Solos version of Champion Hill, and a 24/7 Team Deathmatch playlist on Royal Hotel and Eagle’s Nest with Combat Pacing set to Blitz.

Those who participate in the beta and reach level 20 will receive two rewards:

  • A Weapon Blueprint for Call of Duty Vanguard and Warzone, available in Vanguard following the game’s launch on November 5, and in Warzone when the new main map launches later this year.
  • An Arthur Kingsley Operator in Call of Duty: Mobile, available shortly after the end of the Beta.

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Age of Empires IV Technical Stress Test This Weekend

Also coming this weekend is an Age of Empires IV Technical Stress Test which will get underway on September 17th at 1:00 pm EDT. This differs from previous beta testing for the RTS sequel as it requires no invitation, and is open to everyone. This page has all the details. Here's word on what will be included in the test:
Most aspects of the game available during this event will be focused on the multiplayer experience. However, you will have the opportunity to play against AI via the Multiplayer Custom Lobby, as well as try out Mission Zero (the game’s tutorial). Given this is a Technical Stress Test, we encourage you to play against others participating. The more data we get from different match-ups across various servers, the more action our development team will be able to take to prep our systems for the big day.

There will be four civilizations available – the English, the Chinese, the Holy Roman Empire and the Abbasid Dynasty – and five different maps.

Stellaris Gets Free Content and Free Week

Paradox now offers a free Lem content update for Stellaris, celebrating the 100th birthday of sci-fi author Stanisław Lem. Word is the outer-space grand strategy game now includes in-game content directly inspired by his work, created in cooperation with the Polish Science Fiction Foundation. To celebrate the news, the game is free-to-play on Steam, as all the best weekends start on Tuesday. As we've grown to expect, the full game is also on sale, and any free progress will carry over if you buy it. Here are the Patch Notes for the 3.1 Lem Update which include this video with a feature breakdown. Here's more on the update:
“From the works of science fiction authors around the world to revisiting our own past ideas, our inspiration comes from many places, and we continually find new stories we want to tell with Stellaris,” said Daniel Moregård, Game Director for Stellaris. “This patch gave us a unique opportunity, as well: this year marks the 100th birthday of Stanisław Lem, a Polish science fiction writer whose stories have been a fantastic inspiration for the Stellaris team. In addition to some direct references to Lem’s work within the game for observant fans, the Lem update refreshes and renews the content that our fans have enjoyed throughout the history of Stellaris.”

Named for renowned Polish sci-fi writer Stanisław Lem, the Lem Update is the first release from the newly formed Custodians Team within Paradox Development Studio. The Custodians team is focused on creating free content, balance, and updates for Stellaris, improving both the base game as well as previously launched downloadable content.
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SpiderHeck Playtest

Developer NeverJam announces SpiderHeck is coming to PC and consoles in 2022, to do whatever the heck a SpiderHeck does. The game is a comedic physics-based couch brawler, which you can see in action in this Announcement Trailer. PC players have the chance to check this out right now, as a playtest is now underway, and you can request access through its Steam Listing. Here's word:
As showcased in the new announcement trailer, SpiderHeck is a fast-paced brawler that launches up to four players into a ridiculous spider showdown. Armed with laser swords, grenades, and even rocket launchers players must navigate multiple platforms (and the dangerous lava) to web-sling their way to victory.

Alternatively, players can choose to take on wave after wave of vicious wasps in endless co-op or single-player fun. This hardcore PVE mode features rogue-like gameplay with multiple monsters, unlockable perks and hours of ridiculously messy gameplay.
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The Bookwalker Announced

Developer DO MY BEST and itty-bitty publisher tinyBuild announce The Bookwalker, an upcoming action/adventure. In this you play as a thief with the ability to enter the world of books and steal the fictional items therein (hopefully keeping one step ahead of Officer Bookman). As seen in the Announcement Trailer, this involves a switch from a first-person view to an isometric perspective. There's a playtest underway, so you should register on Steam for a chance to join in if you're interested. Here's more:
As a bookwalker, you possess the unique ability to dive into worlds of books as if they were dreams. However, they are not as immaterial as mere fantasies. Bookwalkers can also bring valuable items from a book into the real world, and that is precisely what your job is

Travel between worlds of books in search of legendary items of great power. Even though they are not as powerful in your world, you can still find buyers on the black market.
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Assassin's Creed Discovery Tour: Viking Age Next Month

Ubisoft announces that Assassin's Creed Discovery Tour: Viking Age will launch on October 19th, offering the chance to explore some Viking history first-hand using the groundwork of Assassin's Creed Valhalla. This will be a free add-on for Valhalla, but it will also be sold as a standalone release via Ubisoft Connect and the Epic Games Store. The standalone version will come early next year to Stadia, Luna, and consoles. Here's more on how this can be your way to Norway:
Continuing in the footsteps of previous Discovery Tours, the new experience was designed with input from historians and archaeologists, and will transform the game’s world into a nonviolent, educational experience that players can freely explore to learn more about the places, people, and cultures of ninth-century England and Norway. However, Discovery Tour: Viking Age takes a new approach to how players explore history: instead of embarking on guided tours, they will assume the roles of different characters and take on quests, which aim to bring them closer to the material by putting them at the center of it.

While following the narrative and completing the quests’ objectives, Discovery Tour: Viking Age players will have the opportunity to interact with Discovery Sites that each focus on an element of the culture and traditions of Vikings and Anglo-Saxons in the Viking Age. Those Discovery Sites feature images of items from the collections of Discovery Tour’s museum partners, which include the UK’s Hampshire Cultural Trust, Preston Park Museum & Grounds, York Archaeological Trust, and The British Library; France’s Réunion des Musées Nationaux; and the National Museum of Denmark.

Evil Genius 2 Gets Free Portal DLC

Rebellion announces the release of two new add-ons for Evil Genius 2: World Domination on Steam, adding new content to the despicable you sequel. The Mechanical Minions Pack is paid DLC (included with the Season Pass) featuring robot minions, while the as the name suggests, the free Portal Pack opens an aperture into the world of Aperture Science with content based on the Portal series. Here's a trailer showing off some of each, and here's word on how the cake is the truth:
Ever wanted to walk through walls and get from one side of your vast evil lair to the other in an instant? Well, now you can thanks to the experts at Aperture Science who have worked wonders to bring the world of Portal to Evil Genius 2. The new free DLC pack is available now for all PC players and includes a host of amazing upgrades for your lair based upon the classic Portal games from Valve. These include portals, autonomous turrets, propulsion gel and more…
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Honey, I Joined a Cult Early Access

Put on your sneakers and drink your Kool-Aid, as Team17 and Sole Survivor Games now offer Early Access to Honey, I Joined a Cult on Steam. This Windows sim puts you in charge of your own cult in the 1970s, the far out heyday of brainwashing. Check out the Early Access Launch Trailer, and please your charismatic leader by reading on for more:
As architect of a new and groovy cult, players design everything from the ground up, from the deity they worship to the location of the energy spa; no detail is too small for the cult leader to decide. Running a lucrative cult is no easy feat though: the leader’s ego, local law enforcement, government agencies, and angry protestors all threaten the all-important bottom line if not managed correctly.
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DEATHLOOP Released

The time is upon us for DEATHLOOP, as this time-looping shooter from Bethesda Softworks and Arkane Lyon is now available for PC and Xbox. The Windows edition is available on Steam, and there's a note on Bethesda Support for PC users about making sure your graphics drivers are up-to-date. Here's the previously released Official Launch Trailer and here's word on the game:
DEATHLOOP is a next-gen first person shooter from Arkane Lyon, the award-winning studio behind Dishonored. In DEATHLOOP, two rival assassins are trapped in a mysterious timeloop on the island of Blackreef, doomed to repeat the same day for eternity. As Colt, the only chance for escape is to end the cycle by assassinating eight key targets before the day resets. Learn from each cycle - try new paths, gather intel, and find new weapons and abilities. Do whatever it takes to break the loop.

Every new loop is an opportunity to change things up. Use the knowledge you gain from each attempt to change up your playstyle, stealthily sneaking through levels or barreling into the fight, guns-blazing. In each loop you’ll discover new secrets, gather intel on your targets as well as the island of Blackreef, and expand your arsenal. Armed with a host of otherworldly abilities and savage weaponry, you’ll utilize every tool at your command to execute takedowns that are as striking as they are devastating. Customize your loadout wisely to survive this deadly game of hunter vs hunted.
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Activision Blizzard Hit With Unfair Labor Practice Lawsuit

Activision Blizzard Hit With Unfair Labor Practice Lawsuit The Washington Post reports (may require registration or subscription) that Activision Blizzard employees and labor union the Communications Workers of America (CWA) have filed an unfair labor practice suit against the company. The suit alleges worker intimidation and union busting: "The union claims that Activision Blizzard is using coercive tactics to stop employees from unionizing." The story says Activision Blizzard, the CWA, and assorted lawyers have not yet replied to requests for comments on this news. Here's more on the suit:
In a statement shared with The Washington Post, CWA organizing director Tom Smith said: “Management could have responded with humility and a willingness to take necessary steps to address the horrid conditions some [Activision Blizzard] workers have faced. Instead Activision Blizzard’s response to righteous worker activity was surveillance, intimidation and hiring notorious union busters.”

The employees and the CWA union filed this most recent lawsuit in California with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that Activision Blizzard acted coercively to stop unionization using tactics such as surveilling employees, interrogating them, making threats and promising benefits.

Funcom Acquires Conan the Barbarian IP; New Game in Development

Funcom announces it will continue to create games based on Conan the Barbarian, saying it has acquired full control of the rights to the character along with dozens of other intellectual properties. This is part of the purchase of Cabinet Group, home to Conan, Mutant Year Zero, Solomon Kane, and other IPs. Word is at least one unannounced project pertaining to this news is already in development:
Cabinet Group’s entire portfolio will be incorporated into the IP studio and Funcom subsidiary Heroic Signatures. Funcom CEO Rui Casais said he has high ambitions for the IPs and noted at least one unannounced project is already in development.

“We are currently overseeing the development of an unannounced game which will combine many of the characters in the Robert E. Howard universe,” said Casais. “And if you combine Funcom’s knowledge of games with Heroic Signatures’ knowledge of the TV/entertainment, publishing, and licensing industries, it makes us perfectly placed to take this venture to the next level. It’s exciting times ahead for us and for fans of the IPs.”

New Brothers in Arms Game Plans

The AIAS Game Maker's Notebook Podcast (video) is a YouTube version of an interview with Randy Pitchford of Gearbox Entertainment that was first released in April through the various podcast services. Largely unnoticed at the time, the discussion includes Randy's revelation that Gearbox is working on a new Brothers in Arms game. The topic of the World War II shooter series comes up at the 53 minute mark (thanks eXputer via IGN) amid discussing the announcement and poor reception of Aliens: Colonial Marines (a project he calls "doomed from the start"). Here's where Randy talks about not talking about the thing he's talking about:
Like, I didn't announce Borderlands 3 until, like, it was beta (laughs). And it sucks, because I know there's a lot of people... we're working on another Brothers in Arms game, but I'm not saying shit until we have it. We have fans that really love that, and they're just going to have to suffer.
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NVIDIA Explains GeForce NOW! Game List

Wccftech has a statement from NVIDIA explaining the recently discovered GeForce NOW! game list. The list is called "unauthorized," which is an interesting way to characterize data openly served on its website. Here's why the list contains titles of games that are not actually in production or are not known to be coming to PC:
NVIDIA is aware of an unauthorized published game list, with both released and/or speculative titles, used only for internal tracking and testing. Inclusion on the list is neither confirmation nor an announcement of any game.

NVIDIA took immediate action to remove access to the list. No confidential game builds or personal information were exposed.

2022 CoD a Sequel to 2019 Modern Warfare?

Though the explanation above suggests not to trust the titles on that GeForce NOW! game list, a tweet from Tom Henderson takes one of them seriously. There's a reference on the list to something called Project Cortez. According to the generally reliable leaker this is next year's Call of Duty game, and a sequel to the last Modern Warfare installment in the series: "It looks like Call of Duty: 2022 is codenamed Project Cortez - It's expected to be a sequel to Modern Warfare 2019." VGC chimes in with more, saying this agrees with some insider info it's been hearing:
According to people with knowledge of Activision’s plans, Modern Warfare’s sequel will include a campaign involving US special forces fighting a covert war against Columbian drug cartels.

Dying Light 2 Delayed Again

The crowding of next year's game release schedule continues, as Techland announces another delay to the release of Dying Light 2 Stay Human. The zombie-infested action/RPG sequel was last expected by the end of this year, but now it is now due on February 4th. This is because the game needs some more Polish polish, but we are told to expect previews of the game next month. Here's word from Techland CEO Pawel Marchewka:
The team is steadily progressing with the production and the game is nearing the finish line. The game is complete and we are currently playtesting it. It is by far the biggest and the most ambitious project we've ever done. Unfortunately, we've realized for us to bring the game to the level we envision, we need more time to polish and optimize it.

That is why we have decided to move the release date to February 4th, 2022.

We are sorry to keep you all waiting a little longer, but we want the game to meet your highest expectations on release and we don't want to compromise on this. However, you won't have to wait too long to get a deeper look at Dying Light 2 Stay Human. Next month, both press and content creators will get their hands on PC and console versions of the game during the upcoming series of preview events around the world. They'll be able to share their experiences of The City with you.
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Stream Xbox Games on Windows

Xbox Wire announces updates to the Xbox App for Windows 10/11 PCs now allows for additional options for streaming Xbox games to your computer:
So today, we’re opening up new possibilities for you to remotely play console games on your Windows 10 PCs (or later) with updates to the Xbox app, including support for:

  • Playing Xbox Game Pass games from the cloud
  • Playing games directly from your console with Xbox remote play

With these new updates, you now can play some of your favorite console titles on a wide range of PCs, even those that don’t have the specs required for certain PC titles. Streaming games through the Xbox app provides the quickest way to play without having to install games on your PC, giving you more time to dive right into Psychonauts 2, Hades, or whatever else you are playing.

Balsa Model Flight Simulator Early Access

Balsa Model Flight Simulator has taken off into Early Access on Steam for Windows, offering a 10% launch discount for the coming week. This is the brainchild of Felipe "HarvesteR" Falanghe, who first helped us struggle with the gravity of the situation as creator and lead designer of Kerbal Space Program. Here's a new trailer showing off the incredible lightness of being balsa. Here are some details:
Balsa is a detailed Model Flight Simulator with a powerful editor where you can design, build, fly and battle with model aircraft.

Created by Felipe "HarvesteR" Falanghe, the original Lead Developer of Kerbal Space Program, Balsa takes the next step in player-built flight simulation games, delivering an entirely new, multi-genre experience for virtual pilots of all skill levels.
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Endzone - A World Apart Prosperity Next Month

Prospering is something one does not necessarily expect to achieve following an apocalypse. But that's just the goal of Prosperity, a new expansion for Endzone - A World Apart that's coming on October 21st to the wasteland city builder. Here's a Gameplay Trailer with a look at gameplay. Those hoping for the chance become Fury Road's Immortan Joe, Waterworld's Deacon, or Gary Oldman's what's-his-name from The Book of Eli will be disappointed. In this case prosperity refers to second generation survivors who outdo their neighbors, as the badlands start to emulate the suburbs:
The Prosperity expansion will take the plucky post-apocalyptic wasteland dwellers from struggle-mode to alive‘n’thrivin’ with new materials, buildings, challenges, and new adventures! While their predecessors worked hard to eke out a meager existence in a world that wanted them dead, this new generation finally has a chance to actually enjoy life — whether that means a nice soapy bath or a cold ale.
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SYNTHETIK 2 Early Access in November

Flow Fire Games announces November 11th is the new target date to launch SYNTHETIK 2 into Early Access on Steam. This is a delay, as everyone was promised first crack at this would come during this summer. The setback is not acknowledged, and is therefore unexplained. The news is accompanied by a new Story Trailer for the roguelite tactical shooter sequel. Here's a quick pitch:
SYNTHETIK 2 is an unforgiving tactical Shooter Rogue-lite where you must experiment and adapt to defeat the Machine Legion. Experience the next level in gun-play thanks to an all new Tech Framework and Universe Ruleset which adds a new world of possibilities.

Fight the Machine Legion with all new Classes and Specializations. The new threat of powerful Factions, bring their own Technologies and lethal Arsenals.

On top of all this, expect expanded powerful integrated Modding Support, Co-op for up to 4 Players, a new Universe Hub, Overhauled Graphics and much more!
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Youtubers Life 2 Next Month

Developer Raiser Games and publisher UPLAY Online announce October 19th is the official launch date for Youtubers Life 2, the upcoming sequel that simulates being a video content creator. A new YouTube Video shows off this game about creating new Youtube videos. And what could be better than being a Youtuber? Well living in a city full of them running around with their selfies sticks reminding everyone to like and subscribe. Here's more on this meta-metropolis:
Following up the multi-million selling original Youtubers Life, the new game opens up its world to its players and lets them step out of the bedroom for the first time to explore ‘NewTube City’.

But this brand new metropolis isn’t just a playground: Its streets will also serve as the player’s connection to the hot new trends they need to be making content about. Players will be able to hunt out the new trends other content creators are unaware of, making the most of their appeal with fresh videos. NewTube City is the key to your Youtuber taking on the world. They’ll even have a cute and customisable drone who follows them around on their adventures, recording videos to serve as content as they go.
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Out of the Blue

BEST BOND GADGETS OF ALL TIME! James Bond Revisited (thanks Ant). I'm a purist, so not so much of a fan of most of the gadgetry. That said, I will gladly take an Aston Martin DB5 and a Rolex Submariner even if their gimmicks are being infested with murder hornets.

Go-Go Gadget Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

Story

Science
Thanks Max.

Media

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