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The 50 best free games on PC

No free-to-play, just free.

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Rockstar employees speak out against crunch controversy

The company gave them permission, uncharacteristically

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The game once known as 'Fortnite' will not leave paid early access and launch free-to-play this year as planned, Epic Games have said. They've delayed Fortnite: Save The World's F2P launch as they want more time to make sure it's proper good and stable for the hordes of potential players expected to flood in when it switches. It did seem that Fortnite might vanish without a trace after its early access launch in July 2017, charging £35 to play the beta of a bland base-building zombie shooter, but then Fortnite Battle Royale hit and now everyone's heard of Fortnite. So there may be surprising demand for co-op PvE.

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It's a little-known fact that when Justin Timberlake told Mark Zuckerberg "A million dollars isn't cool. You know what's cool? A billion dollars," he was talking about how expensive a good VR PC should be. Just jokes, there, some laugharoonies. But for plain ol' millionaires whose VR experiences are bumpy, a little more help is coming. Valve have introduced a 'Motion Smoothing' beta feature to SteamVR, which should let slower PCs jack in with less trouble. Similar to Oculus's Asynchronous Spacewarp tech and SteamVR's own Asynchronous Reprojection, it works by sometimes estimating new frames rather than properly rendering them. Estimates aren't as pretty, but are smoother than the alternative.

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It's no secret that GTA Online has a big cheating problem. Rarely can I play for a few hours without encountering someone who insta-explodes other players, rains hacked money, sticks a Christmas tree to my body, or traps me in a burning cage watched by a dozen Jesuses (hackers are sometimes creative, I will give them that). It's absurd that this still happens. And even more absurd that it looks like hackers recently managed to interfere with people playing Grand Theft Auto V's singleplayer campaign, remotely sending commands to kill their crimeman. Players report that Rockstar seem to have fixed this now but sheesh.

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I know there are deer nearby, because the helpful disembodied voice told me, and I have complete trust in the disembodied voice. theHunter: Call of the Wild, which launched in 2017 but has since been scooped up along with its DLC and repackaged as the 2019 Edition, contains a multitude of deer, I am promised, along with all kinds of woodland and savanna critters. All I can see are birds, however, and they are mocking me.

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It's not all sunshine and roses over in World War 3. That's a Battlefield-like that entered early access last Friday, not a global calamity you're only just learning about on RPS.

World War 3 was supposed to kick off on Friday, but server issues meant that nobody could actually start warring until the following day. A stream of patches has since brought at least some people into the game, but the horrors of war are still closed off to many - including me. I'd wait a bit, budding soldiers.

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Feature: The end times are pricey

Steam Charts: Up Is Down Edition

Please check to see if your cats are laying down with dogs, and if your downs are presently up, because it'll only further confirm this week's Steam Charts' signs of the end times. SEVEN new or re-entries, no GTA, no Counter-Strike, no Witcher 3 - and please, look, sit down, make sure a relative or loved one is close by - Plunkbat is at #6. With literally nothing making sense any more, let's just try to get through this - however much "this" there is left - together.

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Feature: The worst babysitter in Greece

Kassandra might be cute with kids, but she’s still a monster

Kassandra sure is keen to soak her hands in blood. Of her enemies, or those of anyone who chucks her a few drachmae.

The Assassin’s Creed games have always been about killing people. Duh. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, though, is the first since the series started that's got me asking if those people deserve it. And I only had to care in the original because of my dad.

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It’s just ten short nights until Halloween, and so I bring you the spooky gift of Kitty Horrorshow’s latest collection of brief experimental games, bundled together as Haunted Cities Volume 3. It’s got it all: candle lighting, spinning out your car at night, and the most terrifying flickering I’ve ever experienced.

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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for dog walks. Last time we were out we saw someone with their dog on a lead and their cat loping after them, so I'm looking forward to what wonders we'll be treated to this time. You'll just have to make do with high-quality writing about video games from the past week.

I imagine you've seen Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser bragging about the 100 hour working weeks his team put in for Red Dead Redemption 2. I imagine you've also seen the universal rebuking he's received for endorsing crunch culture, but Patrick Klepek's recent piece for Waypoint focuses on the easy ride Vulture game him in the original interview. Given how widespread the negative reaction was, there's hope other journos will take Klepek's points on board. I know I have.

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What if battle royale but wizards? Okay, Battlerite Royale, sure. But what if battle royale but wizards and big flashy magic spells hurling whirlwinds and rocks and giant walls of fire and spaffing special effects all over? Ah, for that you'll want to look to Spellbreak, an upcoming battle royale starring cool wizards. Mate, even if you're not interested in battlers royale, you might want to see this new trailer for the fancy spells these wizards are tossing off.

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Feature: The best horrors from five years of Asylum Jam

Priceless Play – 20th October 2018

So often, it can feel like horror is preying on fears of mental illness. How many video games are set in abandoned psychiatric institutions? What about deeming antagonists “criminally,” or otherwise, “insane”? Sure, I love Until Dawn, but I don’t care for its takes on psychotherapy. I am put off by Outlast, despite its clever mechanics and tight design. Comstock’s House in BioShock Infinite somehow made the game worse. And what’s more: horror doesn’t need these tropes to survive. There are plenty of spooky things to go bump in the night, and sometimes the most interesting work can come from interrogating the media we love.

Enter The Asylum Game Jam, which celebrated its fifth birthday in 2017. The organiser, Lucy Morris, is taking a break this year, but she’s facilitated an impressive number of games in the meantime. The jam took place all around the world and challenged devs to make games which didn’t rely on stereotypes of mental illness. Over five years that’s a lot of games. I took the time to play some from each year -- and here are a few of my favourites.

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Feature: WELL?

What are we all playing this weekend?

It's beginning to look much like Goth Christmas Fangs in every store But the prettiest sight to see, is the ghostie that will be On your own front door

A pair of Spider-Man boots and a pistol that shoots Is the wish of Barney and Ben Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk Is the plan of Janice and Jen And mum and dad can hardly wait for summer to start again

What are you playing this weekend? Here's what we're clicking on!

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Somewhere, deep in the darkest recesses of the Uncanny Valley lies a strange, jagged sinkhole. Nobody knows how deep it goes, or even if it has a bottom to reach, merely that its pixellated walls seem to vibrate and shimmer as you move around them. Welcome to the PlayStation Zone. the Spooky Retro Bundle 2 on Itch is a collection of seven (mostly) PSX-styled games that channel the spirit of this particularly unsettling era in 3D graphics into something deliberately unnerving. Below, trailers for the bundled games, plus some additional scares to start your weekend with.

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I'm not entirely sure why, but there are some people who really liked the Battlefield games when they were at their most gritty and pseudo-realistic. World War 3, released into early access today and developed by Necrovision studio The Farm 51, is for them. Destructible maps of Warsaw, Berlin and Moscow, customisable guns and a realistic armour system for both infantry and vehicles give this one its own distinct edge. Below, the release trailer, featuring some guns that probably don't explode like that in the game itself.

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My brain is not up to playing Executive Assault 2 today. I could maybe handle a basic RTS, or maybe an FPS but not this complex hybrid of both plus space combat. Making its early access debut yesterday, it's a sequel to Hesketh Studios's 2015 Executive Assault. In the first game, players commanded a robot army RTS-style to take down your corporate rival's CEO, leading from the front in FPS combat. In the sequel, you're juggling all that and the third dimension as the battle moves into space. Below, a little video peek at the game, including some impressive fleet combat.

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As Halloween horrors go, a genetically-engineered megamurderer who knows dozens of ways to kill and will wear your clothes to replace you in your everyday life already seems pretty spooky to me. He's a dark one, that Ian Hitman. But to celebrate the season of Goth Christmas, IO Interactive are making him even spookier with new themed contracts for H1tman and treat-not-tricking everyone by making the full Colorado episode a free trial for the next fortnight. This isn't for keepsies, unlike IO did with some earlier episodes, but it is an opportunity to get spooky for free.

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It's the weekend for a lot of you already, so here's a little something free for the next few days. Four somethings, even. Five, if you've got a VR setup. There's probably a few more lurking around that I've missed, but there's a bundle of free weekends running concurrently on Steam right now: RTS spinoff Halo Wars: Definitive Edition, baseball fighter Lethal League, physics puzzler Crazy Machines 3, co-op hack n' slasher Eden Rising: Supremacy and for VR gunslingers, Hover Junkers, all accompanied by steep discounts.

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Feature: An invigorating first step towards a mechanical keyboard?

MSI Vigor GK40 review: Membranical meets RGB

Let's face it, we all fear change and spending lots of money, which is probably why many of us still play games on cheap, squidgy membrane keyboards instead of sharp, expensive clicky-clacky mechanical ones. There's nothing wrong with membrane keyboards, of course, but they're not always best-suited to faster-paced games that require nice, quick and responsive finger-tapping.

As a result, a good way of dipping your toes into the mechanical keyboard waters to see if you like them is to try a so-called 'membranical' one first. These hybrid keyboards offer the best of both worlds, allowing you to ease yourself in gently to the CLICKY CLACKS without forcing you to stump up buckets of cash on the best gaming keyboards money can buy. The latest one to land on my desk is MSI's Vigor GK40, which touts itself as a membrane keyboard with mechanical-feeling keys that costs just £52 / $52.

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Valve are starting to clearly disclose the odds of receiving a rare bonus wizard costume in your Dota 2 loot box of wizard hats, adding an in-game pop-up stating your chances. This is for the "escalating odds", which go up as you open more and more of a certain loot box, and will always track your current chances. The odds were vaguely available before in a roundabout way, as Chinese law requires companies to disclose loot box odds, but seeing it in-game is easier than tromping across the Internet in search of translations of Chinese blog posts.

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It's never fun to report on a game launching at the start of the week and the developer making major staff cuts before the weekend, as is the case with Dreadnought developer Six Foot. As reported by Game Informer and confirmed by Six Foot's Chief Operating Officer, the Dreadnought studio (working in collaboration with Spec Ops: The Line outfit Yager) has let go "about a third" of its workforce. According to Game Informer's sources, the game has struggled to bring in the money required to keep everyone at the studio paid.

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Feature: Low-pressure area

Mellowing out with management games

My body betrayed me last month, trapping me in my bed when it wasn’t sending me rushing to my poor, overworked loo. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t work and so I turned to management games to take my mind off the virus squatting inside me. Juggling budgets, disasters and production chains might not sound particularly relaxing, but there’s also a swathe of low-pressure sims that serve as a brilliant panacea for stress.

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Feature: An epic adventure returns

Have You Played… Grandia?

Those in Europe might not have heard of this late PlayStation-era RPG. It's one I remember vividly, thanks to its distinct steam-punk vibe and memorable battle system. It's not only coming back, but is also finally coming to PC later this year. Perhaps this time it'll get the recognition it deserves.

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Feature: Cheap graphics cards, CPUs, and games galore

Best PC gaming deals of the week – 19th October 2018

It's that time of the week again where I swap my hardware hat for my deals herald hat. What does a deals herald hat look like, I hear you ask? Good question. It's sort of like a chaperon, if you must know. I asked for a bicorne, but Graham was having none of it. Said I'd only go and stage a revolution to turn RPS into a Nintendo site - which is fair, because that definitely sounds like something I would do.

But enough about hats. Let's talk deals! Bandai Namco and Bethesda are both having jumbo sales this weekend, while over on the hardware side we've got more graphics cards, CPU and gaming mice deals galore. If you don't see anything you like, remember that Black Friday is coming up soon at the end of November, so it may well be worth waiting for that if you're in the market for new PC bits. For now, let's do some deals heralding.

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Feature: Armored Brigade inspected

The Flare Path: Iron Curtain Call

Before the Su-17s showed up, the defence of Großenlüder was going like clockwork. Dug in behind wire and minefields, my Chieftains were dominating. Their poppy-brushing 120mm guns had barcoded the eastern horizon with pillars of black smoke. Nothing of Soviet manufacture had made it as far as the village, and nothing looked likely to. But then the napalm came. Tumbling canisters of molten lava delivered by low-flying, thunder-trailing Fitters. Tumbling canisters of molten lava that burst on impact, turning protective vehicle scrapes into Hadean pools of flame.

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Less than two months after finally launching Dirty Bomb in full, Splash Damage have announced they are stopping development on their free-to-play FPS set in merrye olde Londone tahn. The servers will stay up as long as enough players keep on playing, they say, but don't expect any big future updates. Splash Damage say that, despite a big effort to renovate and finish it, the Enemy Territory-style shooter simply wasn't making enough money to justify continuing live development. So it goes.

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Feature: Blop till you drop

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 review

CODBLOPS: *snarls* Person: I’d... I’d like to shoot some people, please. CODBLOPS: *spits* HOW? HOW would you like to shoot people? Person: Well PUBG: *coughs* Person: Um CSGO: *also coughs* Person: Overwatch: Hi!

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 reminds of an ugly, angry man who’s trying to sell me guns. It’s not that I don’t want to buy those guns, I just wish the man didn’t have to yell so hard.

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