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Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity

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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.

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Feature: Want to slamdunk a headcrab?

Best Half-Life: Alyx mods

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.

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Feature: From wheely desks to invisible headcrabs

Five cool things we learned from Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx – Final Hours documentary

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Feature: If you build it, they will thumb

I met the Fallout 76 Fun Cop

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.

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Feature: Someone guffed in the soup

Have You Played… Project Winter?

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.

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Another Ubisoft Forward showcase stream is coming

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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Update: Anyone with an Ubi account can now sign up for a free copy over here.

Ubisoft's offer of Watch Dogs 2 for free if you watched today's Ubisoft Forward stream today was meant to be a tempting little sweetener, but things broke. The servers seemingly overloaded, meaning that not only were many unable to sign into their Ubi accounts and become eligible for the giveaway, some people are complaining all the failed attempts got their accounts automatically disabled. Welp. Sounds like it'll take some fixing, but Ubisoft have at least said people who couldn't log in will get the freebie.

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Ubisoft's free-to-play battle royale FPS Hyper Scape today launched into open beta, after a short closed beta with invitations handed out on Twitch. As the genre goes, 100 players are running around a big map looting and shooting. Hyper Scape is pretty zippy as battle royales go, mind, with players bouncing from streets to rooftops and zipping about with special abilities. If you were curious but didn't want to watch Twitch in the hope of scooping a key, here you go.

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Following a little leak this week, Ubisoft today formally announced Far Cry 6. The open-world FPS series is headed to the fictional tropical paradise of Yara, which is now in the grip of a dictator (played by Giancarlo Esposito off Breaking Bad) and his son. As the series winds on, I'm increasingly convinced a little family therapy could avoid a whole lot of murder. But not this time, so we'll be murdering across Yara as a freedom fighter.

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Ubisoft today announced a November 17th release date for Assassin's Creed Valhalla, the next in their open-world murder simulator series. The date leaked yesterday but shh. And pretending that we haven't been watching great reams of leaked Valhalla gameplay all week, they very proudly released a video showing and explaining more of the game. I suppose it'd be polite to act surprised by revelations of raiding, sieging, and sneaking as you watch the trailer below.

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Feature: Eivor? I hardly know her!

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla isn’t really an AC game, but it’s still great

Playing a big ol' chunk of Assassin's Creed Valhalla made me realise how much the series has changed since the first game in 2007. If you played Altaïr's first adventure and then skipped straight to Valhalla, where big buff blonde viking Eivor is running around 9th century England, you probably wouldn't realise they were in the same series. Assassin's Creed Valhalla doesn't feel like an Assassin's Creed game, then, but I'm okay with that. Because it instead it feels like a really good Viking game where you smash people with axes.

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Feature: A-hoo! Hackers of London!

Preview: a year on, Watch Dogs Legion’s “play as anyone” is so crazy it might just work

I don't go round singing "Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner!" or anything, but out of all the places I've lived so far, London is the one I think of as home. And this so happens to be the setting for hacktion-adventure game Watch Dogs Legion, which is definitely not called Watch Dogs London despite how often I accidentally say that. It's a dystopian near-future version of London, where the Union Jack has had yellow lines added to it for some reason, and all adverts are holograms now. I played a hands on at Gamescom last year and wrote about how fun it was to tool around London.

I've now had another go, driving and droning around for three whole hours. London is still a delight (I went on a little walk along the South Bank, past the aquarium, the London Eye and the National Theatre, which are all called non-infringing things like British Theatre), but the amount that Legion has improved since I played it a year ago is genuinely impressive. In particular, that weird "play as anyone" bit has been given a proper gussy up.

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Watch Dogs: Legion launching on October 29th

Ubisoft today announced an October 29th release date for Watch Dogs: Legion and introduced a few of the potential stars in new videos. Legion hops over the proverbial pond to focus on DedSec operatives in London fighting The Man by hacking the oeuvre of David Mamet [the planet -rhyming slang ed.], and this time we can play all sorts of different people by recruiting NPCs around the world. Come meet some of them.

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Ubisoft today announced that another three executives have resigned as the company continue trying to deal with the recent allegations of serious and widespread harrassment and abuse. The three stepping down are chief creative officer Serge Hascoët, global HR head Cécile Cornet, and Yannis Mallat, the managing director of Ubisoft's Canadian studios. This comes a few days after the resignation of Maxime Béland, vice president of Ubisoft's Editorial department. I was sceptical when Ubisoft first announced their desire to improve, but I can't deny some big changes are happening - Hascoët was one of the most powerful men at Ubi.

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Screenshot Saturday Sundays! Our weekly ritual returns, gathering us all to summon gifs, screenshots and work-in-progress videos from the murky depths of the game development community. This week: Satan's personal elevator, wibbly-wobbly firearms, a late-night conversation and powerful amphibious tongues.

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Yeah winning a last-man-standing battle by bursting your opponent's head is great and all, but have you ever won a battle royale after your opponent got clobbered by giant fruit rolling downhill? Such is the foolishness of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, a 60-player party game inspired by those wacky TV game shows like Total Wipeout, Takeshi's Castle, and It's A Knockout. You know, daft obstacles, unfair traps, falling over - that sort of tomfoolery. And last night, Devolver Digital announced a release date of August 4th.

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Watch Ubisoft Forward here today

NotE3 continues today with Ubisoft Forward at 8pm (noon Pacific). Ubisoft's notE3 stream promises more on Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, an Hyper Scape, plus "a few surprises". One of those surprises is already blown, as the existence of Far Cry 6 leaked on Friday. Heaps of Assassin's Creed Valhalla gameplay footage has leaked too. But hey, you can get a free copy of Watch Dogs 2 for watching the stream.

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"I can't quite get what Weird West is as a game, but I bloody love the aesthetic," our Nate said last month. He'd just seen a notE3 trailer which had plenty of mood but not much of the game. It's an action-RPG with some immersive sim-ish bits, yeah? From some folks formerly of Dishonored and Prey devs Arkane? I'm still not quite sure about the shape of the game but a new trailer from Devolver Digital's stream tonight shows more than I'd seen before.

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It's been quite fun to get some of that old E3 self-indulgent and money-wasting spectacle today in Devolver Digital's own notE3 showcase/short film. D3: Devolver Digital Direct continued the indie publisher's absurd years-long story of company executives, exploding heads, and the future's future. As we enter the fifth week of an endless online marketing experience filling in after E3 was cancelled by the pandemic, I am tired. Devolver devoting most of a 45-minute presentation to a fictional corporate power struggle might stretch jokes thin but hell, after so many hours-long streams, it almost feels concise. And, y'know, it's fun.

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The new trailer for Serious Sam 4 coming out of Devolver Digital's notE3 stream today didn't show much of the game, but what it did show looks like Serious Sam to me. Wacky cartoon monsters roaming around arenas in real-world-ish locations? Yup. Quite a few of those monsters at once? Quite. Unnecessary story? Seriously. Explosions, lasers, and gibs? Oh my! Check out the trailer below.

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Those rapscallions at Devolver Digital have stepped up their E3 shitposting this year with Devolverland Expo, a free game recreating the horrifying spectacle of a video games show. And surprise, it's out right now. Made by Shadow Warrior developers Flying Wild Hog, it sends us into a cancelled video games expo to steal trailers while fighting security systems. You know, so you can watch trailers for video games inside a video game.

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In less than two weeks, you could be a horrible meaty mass of tentacles and teeth crawling through vents and devouring hapless humans. And in the game, obvs. Devolver Digital today announced a July 23rd release date for Carrion, the platformer which will at least let you live out a digital facsimile of your true life's dream. I've been cooing at this horror for years now and soon we'll all get to tickle its tummy and feed it scientists. It still has a demo for now, too.

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Following its announcement earlier this week, Devolver Digital today pumped out the first Shadow Warrior 3 gameplay trailer. It looks: good. Yeah I was already expecting swords, big guns, and buckets of blood, but ooh I am extra-interested in swish new movement options like the grappling hook little you dramatically slingshot around arenas. Here, see the trailer yourself below.

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