Grab your pitchfork and put on your sturdiest boots, readers - it is once again time to reap the pastoral delights of small-town farm life. Story Of Seasons: Friends Of Mineral Town, Xseed Games' same-subtitled remake of the 2003's Harvest Moon release, is now out on Steam. One to watch out for, if you fancy Stardew Valley's mix of farming, fishing and romancin' with more of a cutesy chibi flair.
Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity
Off to a new place, Yara86
Allow me to demonstrate4
Despite being delayed, then later moving entirely online due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Summer Games Done Quick is still preparing for some awfully fast gaming next month. The schedule for this year's event has just gone up, kicking off the annual week of charity speedrunning on Sunday, August 16th. Expect your usual bouts of boundary-breaking and donation shouting, of course, but can you really call it GDQ without the couch banter?
Just ahead of the new American Truck Simulator's launch, developers SCS Software have injected a touch of nitro into the game engine with screen space ambient occlusion (SSAO). This technique for making shadows more realistic is not a mega-fancy and drastic modern technobell or cyberwhistle, but it is a welcome one. The scenery just feels more... present. So simply by downloading a patch, my game has become prettier. Nice.
AMD have announced a fresh free games bundle for would-be graphics card buyers today, letting you pick up World Of Warcraft's recent Shadowlands expansion and Gearbox's upcoming Destiny-style "looter-slasher" Godfall for free. The bundle will run from now until October 3rd (the same date as their ongoing free Assassin's Creed Valhalla bundle for new Ryzen CPU buyers), so read on below for how it all works.
The small Playerunknown's Battlegrounds map of Sanhok is being revamped as part of Update 8.1 next week, developers PUBG Corp announced today. Numerous locations have been rebuilt, and an interesting new mini objective has been added. Autonomous Loot Trucks will be driving around the island, dropping crates of gear as they're attacked, and awarding particularly fancy gear when they're destroyed. Chasing a robopiñata in my tuk-tuk while the laaads in the back blast away sounds great fun. Today's announcement also brings a big boast: the battle royale shooter has now sold over 70 million units.
Following its PlayStation debut last year, Death Stranding is now out on PC too. This is the latest game from Metal Gear Solid maestro Hideo Kojima and his studio Kojima Productions, and stars Norman Reedus as a post-apocalyptic postman traversing the wastes of the USA. Something's spooky has happened, see, so Norm needs a baby in a bottle to help protect himself from extradimensional ghosties. In short: some sneaking; a little action; lots of Kojima-y names and exposition; and loads of walking around lovely landscapes trying not to stack it and smash your packages.
We're almost spoiled for choice when it comes to great 2560x1440 gaming monitors these days, but the BenQ EX2780Q is another strong contender that's worthy of your consideration. For starters, it's one of the few gaming monitors I've tested that actually has a built-in (albeit very tiny) subwoofer to accompany its pair of 2W speakers, but it's also got a super accurate IPS panel, a high 144Hz refresh rate, AMD Freesync Premium support and one of VESA's DisplayHDR 400 certifications for low-end HDR. In short, it's got pretty much everything it needs to challenge my current best gaming monitor for 1440p champion, the AOC Agon AG273QX.
The space-a-thon MMO, Eve Online is wrapping up its current invasion story arc that's taken place over the last year or so. Those pesky Triglavians have been up to no good - first they invaded and now they've just gotten far too powerful, and it looks like it's up to you to deal with them once and for all - or join them and assist said invasion, up to you really. The culmination of this story kicks off today, and with it comes a big makeover for the Abyssal Proving Grounds as well.
GOG are having a big sale celebrating French game devs and publishers this week, offering up to 90% off loads of games made in the region. Running from now until July 20th, that means big savings on the back catalogue of Focus Home Interactive, which includes games like A Plague Tale: Innocence, Vampyr, The Surge and Call Of Cthulhu, as well as tasty discounts off titles from Dishonored dev Arkane and loads more. Read on for our top deals picks.
If your PC is in need of some new peripherals at the moment, then Amazon US have slashed up to 50% off a load of Razer gaming mice, headsets and keyboards today, including one of my current best gaming mouse recommendations, the Razer Naga Trinity (pictured above), which is now down to $62. There are also big savings to be had on various models of Razer's Blackwidow Elite and Blackwidow TE (tenkeyless) keyboards, their Kraken headsets, and you can also save $200 on their ultra slim Razer Blade Stealth 13 gaming laptop as well.
A lot of people are going to describe Rocket Arena as "Quake meets Smash Bros", and they will be accused of being lazy while also being 100% right. The concept and the name started as a Quake mod, after all, although it's now it's own separate thing published by Electronic Arts.
This modern incarnation is a 3v3 shooter, out now, with class abilities and rocket-based weapons that Sin somewhat disappointingly describes as "functionally much like regular guns". You win by knocking your opponents out of the arena, rather than making them explode. Sin enjoyed doing this several weeks ago, though, and I think I probably will too. Even though my brain insists this should be free-to-play and it actually costs £25.
The PC remaster of Halo 3 is another beautiful, robust polish job that shows just how well Bungie’s bombastic shooter series has aged. I recommend it heartily. Yes, it’s marred with some baffling narrative choices, bungled ally AI, and a few instances of phoned-in level design, of course. But then, in the immortal words of that astronaut meme, “always has been”. And at this point, the whole Halo experience is so firmly bound up in nostalgia, at least for me, that its flaws have long since become endearing quirks.
But as much as this is a good moment to talk about Halo 3, what with it being out today and all, I’ve realised this post is just as much about the Master Chief Collection, the compilation/launcher… thing which now contains the whole of the classic Halo trilogy, plus Reach. I’d assumed the MCC was basically an electric version of a cardboard box with games in it. But now my four favourite Haloes are in it, the MCC seems to have reached a critical mass, and I’ve had something of a revelation.
13 years after its Xbox 360 debut, Halo 3 is finally out on PC. While the first two games came over from Xbox, the conclusion to Bungie's first-person shooter trilogy stayed home. After 13 years, you'll finally be able to see what became of Master Ian Chief. Did he, as he vowed at the end of Halo 2, finish this fight? You'll have to play it to find out.
Social distancing simulator Death Stranding launches on PC tomorrow but Kojima Productions have delivered a launch trailer today. If you've been waiting to get your postman parkour on in full 4K resolutions, the time has nearly arrived. Bridge man Sam is all packed up and ready to cart that cargo all over post apocalyptic America starting tomorrow, July 14th.
In all this talk about Assassin's Creed Valhalla's viking blokes in boats, I'd almost forgotten about Ubisoft's other boats game. Ships, pardon me. Skull & Bones is the pirate-themed naval combat game they announced yonks back in 2017. It's not scuttled yet, apparently, but may be changing course to a live service game.
If you missed the giant Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality on Itch last month, you've got yet another shot at good games for a good cause. The Visual Novel Romance Collection for Black Trans Lives is precisely what it says on the tin: fourteen romantic games (several of which the RPS crew have quite liked) in support of The Okra Project.
Valve have been down in the Steam Labs workshop for a year now brewing up ways for folks to more efficiently spend money in their store. Some experiments have been bust, others have gotten the stamp of approval and been shipped off as fully-fledged features. The Community Recommendations whereby you can see user reviews by all sorts of folks you don't know, is graduating today. Valve are far from done though, with more experiments planned for the next year of Labs.
Earlier in the RPS treehouse, I was explaining to Nate that the Yakuza games are wonderful and kindhearted, not just serious crime drama (though they are also serious crime drama). Then as if my love of gaming's best dads is able to shape reality, mere hours later Sega have announced that Yakuza Kiwami 2 will come to Windows 10 and Xbox Game Pass on July 30th. So more people will soon be able to spend more time with my two wrestledads. I'm so happy for you.
It’s taken time to build up a decent collection of Half-Life: Alyx mods, but not as long as I thought it would. People were building them before Valve released the proper SDK, and now it's out there are hundreds of levels, weapons and experiments. I had a great time sneaking through forgotten areas of City 17, or taking time out from Combine harvesting to toss a few bowling balls (and bullets) down a ten pin alley.
I've only ever played bits and pieces of the Half-Life games, but it's been a delight learning the ins and outs of their creation from Half-Life: Alyx - Final Hours. It's a multimedia documentary on all things Valve - their (many) cancelled games, a close look at life during Alyx's development, and the ups and downs the developers went through in making sure Half-Life returned in the best way possible. I've pulled out some of my favourite snippets of info from the doc, so read on to hear all about Alyx's invisible headcrab, and why I now believe that G-Man's actor might actually be G-Man in real life.
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If you're looking to build a team to stop people hacking your game, why not reach out to the people who are trying to hack your game? That's an idea Riot Games had with Valorant and League Of Legends, hiding a little recruitment message inside part of their anti-cheat system. If you're poking around in their gameguts, they might be interested in your skills.
Asus have shaved over £140 off some of their best gaming monitors in the UK at the moment, making it a good time to pick up one of their RGB-laden gaming screens. Indeed, there are four such gaming monitors on sale at various retailers at the moment, with two ultrawide mega screens and two of their 165Hz, 2560x1440 displays discounted to some of their lowest prices ever. The cheapest one can be had for as little as £319, too, which is really quite the bargain after months of stock shortages and inflated prices.
There's just four weeks to go now until Horizon Zero Dawn does a massive electric roar and charges towards us through our PC screens, and as RPS' resident HZD obsessive, I'm excited. And to my own surprise, possibly the thing I'm most excited about is the chance to just drink in the look of the game again. In fact, no. I don't want to drink it in at all. I want to chug it down as if it were a protein shake, and my eyes were a pair of totally shredded bros.
Possibly because I've spent most of my life with PCs some way behind the curve in terms of hardware, I've never been that bothered about how games look. But Horizon Zero Dawn is an exception. It looked a couple of years ahead of its time even in 2017 on PS4, and if Katharine's experimentation with Death Stranding (which uses the same engine) are anything to go by, HZD's PC port is going to absolutely batter us aesthetically. With this in mind, then, I thought I'd take you on a little sightseeing trip through some of the things I'm most excited to behold with new, muscly eyes.
Blizzard have released an Overwatch album, so now you can bop along to your favourite in-game tunes even when you're not playing. Overwatch: Cities And Countries is a collection of soundtracks from the game, all based on the global locations of its maps. You know when you first load into a match, and it plays that short riff of music symbolic of the setting? These are basically just the full versions of those, and they're actually really good.
Where Assassin's Creed Odyssey made players choose between playing as Kassandra or Alexios at the start and Syndicate missions often picked a Frye twin for you, Assassin's Creed Valhalla will let players switch between the female and male versions of our lone hero Eivor whenever we please. That mostly sounds useful for double-checking which voice actor you prefer and not having to start over if you change your mind. Though Ubisoft do say this switcheroo hints at some in-universe explanation involving their magic computers and that.
If you're looking to take advantage of AMD's free Assassin's Creed Valhalla bundle with select Ryzen processors at the moment, then there are some great CPU deals happening over at Newegg right now as part of their Fantastech sale (yes, I just did a big shudder as well). The best deal of the bunch is definitely the Ryzen 7 3700X, which can now be had for a new low of just $260, which is the cheapest price I've seen for this octa-core CPU ever since it launched last year.
People in Fallout 76 are decent enough, in my experience. I forget whether I've related my first encounter with another player, where I accidentally blundered into their camp, then backed away in the panicky assumption that they'd attack me, only for them to instead drop a gift bag with a level-appropriate hunting rifle and some ammunition in it. I still have that rifle.
Most people I've met were similarly friendly, or at least indifferent. But then there was Overprotective Thumbs Up Statue Power Armour Hermit. They were no fun at all.
I really like Project Winter, at least in theory. It's a classic hidden role multiplayer affair, where you're ostensibly Doing A Survival: there's a bunch of you stuck somewhere arctic, trying not to freeze or starve in a log cabin while also accomplishing tasks like repairing radio transmitters, with the eventual aim of summoning an escape helicopter.
But as Matt put it in a recent post, "really it’s about luring your friends into the wilderness so you can murder them". Because of course, not all of your group of survivors are goodies. One or two of you, depending on how many are playing, will be secretly designated as gits, and will spend the whole game trying to ruin everyone elses' chances of rescue.
A fair few games in recent E3 showcases were conspicuously absent from today's Ubisoft Forward stream: no Beyond Good & Evil 2, no Rainbow Six Quarantine, no Gods & Monsters, no Roller Champions, no Skull & Bones. And yet they found time to announce Far Cry 6. Given that they've all been delayed for extra work before, maybe they're pushed far enough into the future for Ubisoft to wind down the hype machine. Today the company confirmed they are planning another Ubisoft Forward event with more games, so maybe then for some of them?
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