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Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity

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Next up in the hack and slashin' RPG series, Torchlight 3 previously had a change of heart after starting life as an online game called Torchlight Frontiers. Echtra Games have now announced that the currently-running closed beta will wrap this Friday. Now that they're back in familiar territory, Echtra are planning some livestreamed announcements on the same day to talk about when the game will be "publicly available," which might be anything from a public beta to an early access launch.

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From those folks at Frogwares wot love doing Sherlock Holmes adventures, comes the next sleuth 'em up based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's gentleman detective. Sherlock Holmes Chapter One is a prequel story to the developers' other games, this time telling a story of Holmes' early years standing in for Gerard Way on My Chemical Romance tours. No, not really, but they say that Chapter One will feature a "cavalier young Sherlock" before his reputation preceded him. It's due out sometime in 2021.

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After a brief moment of uncertainty during its first reveal, I had a pretty good feeling that Minecraft Dungeons would be some nice and breezy block-clad fun. Until I'd seen it though, turning Minecraft into Diablo's little brother was not an obvious experiment—at least not to me. What other game series should get a spinoff into some totally unlikely other genre?

Minecraft Dungeons isn't out until tomorrow, but RPS reviews man Nate has already called it some good, simple fun in his Minecraft Dungeons review.

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Feature: In soviet russia, the watchtowers are all around you

I am the Tower Bully now: an Age Of Empires 2 match report

I've been having a bit of a rough time in my quest to become good at Age Of Empires 2: Definitive Edition. After my first ranked win, I had a streak of confidence-fuelled victories, and started to feel like maybe I was the Big Man. But oh, no. I was not. The wins took me out of the world of newcomers, into the wide band of the leaderboard frequented by people who actually know how to play, and I got beaten into the ground with a bastard sword. As ever, my weakness was timidity about being aggressive early. I'd try to "fast castle", focusing on rapid early economic growth so as to get to the game's third tech tier, only to have a squad of gits march into my base eleven minutes into the game, because my enemy had thrown everything into a feudal age military rush. But now, it seems, my luck has turned.

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Guinness World Records seems to have gotten a bit copyright cuckoo this weekend thanks in part to YouTube's automated Content ID system. A bunch of Super Mario Bros speedrunning videos were sent copyright claim notices based on a record holder's speedrun that Guinness uploaded to their own channel. They say the spree of claims was unintentional and should now be fixed. Whoops.

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Feature: Maul In The Family

Might it already be too late to remake 2002’s Mafia?

It was with raised eyebrows that I met the news of 2K's plans to re-release all three Mafia games. With the second and third already out, but neither game worth playing at all, it is the first that creates intrigue. This long-loved, but very long-in-the-tooth 2002 mob-me-do, seems like such a fascinating prospect to see given an overhaul. But might eighteen years since its release mean maybe it's already too late? I've been back to the original to see.

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Feature: They share more than just fishing

Can’t play Animal Crossing? Try Red Dead Redemption 2 instead

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has become a phenomenon. If you're not playing it, you're probably still seeing it everywhere you turn - on Twitter, on Twitch, on the lips of your friends discussing turnip prices. It's likely enough to inspire FOMO, the fear of missing out.

There are a couple of Animal Crossing adjacent games available on PC. Stardew Valley is one which comes instantly to mind, and other games like Stardew Valley. If you want to truly capture the spirit of Animal Crossing, however, there's a surprising contender: Red Dead Redemption 2.

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Feature: The hand of God

Have You Played… From Dust?

The god game genre hasn't had many breakout hits, and it's hard to argue From Dust is one of 'em. But despite a load of hoo-ha about DRM when this first released on PC, back in 2011, it's probably the most meditative god games I've ever played. You're not omnipotent, you see. You don't actually have a lot of powers. You can move sand around like nobody's business, though.

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Neon Lights over a crowded parking lot. The steam and sounds of a ramen stand. Billboards glistening in the pouring rain as entire tower blocks tumble in the distance. There's plenty to appreciate in Cloudpunk's towering urban sprawl - but until now, it's always been kept at an arm's length. This week, developers Ion Lands began testing a new first-person mode in Cloudpunk's beta build, letting drivers get up close and personal with Nivalis' gorgeous mile-high neighbourhoods.

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Screenshot Saturday Sundays! It's awful windy out, so let's gather around the kitchen table and see what screenshots, gifs, and clips have been offered up by the game development community over the last few days. This week: there's something in the sands, a quiet winter break, wobbly junkyard airships and murderous vocabulary.

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Like most post-apocalyptic romps, Wasteland 3's badlands weren't entirely emptied by the end of the world. Speaking in a developer diary this week, studio head Brian Fargo and senior writer Nathan Long ran through bodyguards, crime-lords and presidential death cults the Rangers might face during their upcoming Colorado road trip - and the new conversation system that'll get you right up in their irradiated faces.

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When Warframe set up shop in 2012, it was a simple thing. A few rooms, a few baddies, and a good helping of backflips. But with each update bringing increasingly fanciful new designs, the free-to-play slasher's oldest hallways are starting to look rather dusty. That's why the devs are unpacking their toolkits for a little bit of D.I.Y - re-imagining the game's ancient Corpus environments to meet modern Warframe's lavish expectations.

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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for trying not to complain about how lockdown makes writing these intros much harder, because that would be ridiculously callous and self-centred. Here's the best writing about videogames from the past week.

For his blog, designer Robert Yang distilled the good and the bad from Gears Tactics and Horizon's Gate into succinct design lessons. There's some sharp analysis here, even though it's only written in note form. I hope other devs are listening.

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Risk Of Rain 2 delays its 1.0 release into August

Pack your brolly away, it's clear skies for a few months yet. Risk Of Rain 2 developers Hopoo game released a revised forecast for their swarming early access roguelite this week, pushing the game's 1.0 release back to August this year. After all that time in early access, the devs reckon they'd picked up a little tunnel vision, and are re-thinking their release plans to bring some new and improved features to the colourful bug-hunt at launch.

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Feature: Persistence, persistence, persistence

Priceless Play – 23 May 2020

My dad isn't like most dads. There are many things about him which make him unique, but perhaps none so idiosyncratic as this: the man really, really, really loves Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States. I'm not sure how many children have been taken on car trips to Coolidge's homestead in rural Vermont (where, fun fact, Coolidge was sworn in as president following the death of President Harding), but I bet we'd make for a pretty odd club.

The reason I bring up my dad and Calvin Coolidge at all is that the screen saver for my dad's computer (or at least, as I last remember it) is a Calvin Coolidge quote about persistence and always has been. The words bounce back and forth on the screen: "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence." And so, I find myself thinking a lot about Coolidge's perspective on persistence lately; that it will be the only thing to carry us through times of uncertainty and hardship. I dunno you guys, but I'm pouring one out for Calvin and my dad this week.

Here are some games about persistence.

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Much as I'd like to believe, I'm no photographer. But damn if Umurangi Generation doesn't make me feel like a seasoned shutterbug. Released earlier this week, Veselekov's first-person-photographer is a defiantly indigenous photography sandbox packed with sharp looks, smooth sounds and extradimensional giant squids. Heck, you might even learn how to take a good photograph along the way.

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As big sports organisations are wont to do, Manchester United are getting touchy about the use of their name. The English Premier League have filed a complaint against Sega and Sports Interactive for the use of the team's name in the Football Manager series. They take issue with how the series may "benefit from an association with the club’s winning culture and its brand values" without actually forking over cash to licence the team's crest.

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The Migration is a lovely little apocalypse

Since I've ended up incoherently semi-shouting this at several people recently (sorry, Nat), I'll save myself the time and write it down: Connor Sherlock's The Migration feels to me like witnessing an apocalyptic event, and it's great. There you are, wandering around the surface of some desolate world, only bleached bones and warbling synth for company, when the end comes. Or a beginning. Or... a change, definitely. And then the music really kicks in and oh god, this is terrible, this is beautiful, I'm so glad I'm here for it.

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Will the real Medieval History majors please stand up? Ubisoft previously tossed out a tidbit on "viking rap battles" that will make an appearance in Assassin's Creed Valhalla. Creative director Ashraf Ismail has popped up to say a bit more about how these historically-inspired showdowns will take place in Valhalla. Apparently flyting (or fliting), as it was called by anglo-saxon and norse folks, was like, a whole thing. 

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Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare is queuing up for season 4 with a teaser video featuring an unnamed "senior operator" in a blurry comms interception. Wait, even I recognize that hat. Looks like yer boy Captain Price is going to play a part in Warfare season 4, possibly as a new operator for Warzone.

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Microsoft marked Global Accessibility Awareness Day yesterday by announcing plans for improved accessibility features in Windows 10. The listed changes mainly focus on accessibility features for those with low or no vision, including text cursor customisation and quite a few improvements to the Narrator feature. These changes are scheduled as part of the May update for Windows 10.

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A few years back I went to a theme park in the UK - I think it was Thorpe Park - and at lunchtime we had a burger at a jungle themed food stand. I think it may even have been I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! themed, somehow. The point is that for whatever reason, each meal came with a portion of dried and cooked insects, of various size. A bunch of worms, a few crickets, and one jumbo sized cricket for everyone. I am in no doubt that the majority of the insects go to waste. They serve mostly as a thing for young men to dare each other to eat, I think. I would not eat the bugs. But ohhhh, I will make a Sim eat bugs.

Up to now, I haven't played The Sims 4. I just build stuff in it. My Sims game is a perpetual limbo. What hell must it be to exist there, where suddenly huge houses or weird one room experiments spring up but no one ever experiences life. But the new Eco Lifestyle pack, an expansion to allow your Sim to live lean and green, might actually get me to play again, because it looks like it will make it a much more interesting game to play.

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The in-world cinema of Fortnite will screen a yet-unconfirmed old Christopher Nolan film for free this summer, Epic have revealed after debuting a trailer for his new film, Tenet. It's going to be Inception they show, isn't it? Gotta be. Inception turns ten in July, it's like a big ol' video game itself, they could add fun in-game effects with folding worlds and slowed time... it'd make sense. I mean, it's probably not going to be Memento, is it? But first, Tenet.

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Like Newegg, Best Buy are marking this weekend's Memorial Day holiday with a good old fashioned jumbo sale jamboree. For PC gamers, the best bargains are to be had in the mouse, keyboard and headset departments, with big savings to be had on the wired version of Logitech's superb G915 Lightspeed keyboard and our current best gaming keyboard pick, the Roccat Vulcan to name just two of our top highlights. Read on below for our pick of the bunch.

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Let's talk about Crucible's launch. Amazon's hero shooter landed on Steam earlier this week, and honestly? It was a bit of a mess. In fairness, a lot of brand new online games face similar issues to what the new third person sci-fi shooter did, with matchmaking and connectivity issues plaguing players as they tried to play their first matches. And though these are fixed now, there are still a couple of pretty obvious features missing from the game that really shouldn't be. I mean, who launches a team-based shooter with no in-game voice chat?

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Today is the 30th birthday of perhaps the most iconic PC game of all time, Microsoft Solitaire. On this day in 1990, Microsoft launched Windows 3.0, which came with the card game that would grow to be despised by officer managers and IT teachers alike. Microsoft claim that even now, there are "more than 100 million hands played daily around the globe." So if they're so proud of it, why is their 30th anniversary merch such ghastly garbage? They've missed a huge opportunity to use one of the most striking images in PC gaming history.

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Feature: Eaten mess

Maneater review

When I saw the footage of aquatic murder sim Maneater from E3 last year, I had two responses. The first was that it looked really thrilling to play. The second was that it had the potential to be obscenely stupid. I wrote all about this in my preview, and tbh it's worth a read before you carry on, so I don't need to repeat myself too much. But was I right about Maneater? Yeah, I was.

The core simulation here is a perfect encapsulation of how it feels to be a fool's idea of a shark. It's acrobatic, intuitive, and drivingly vicious, like Ecco The Dolphin after a long spell in prison. But what could have been great in a game that was nasty, brutish and short has been stretched into an open world plodder weighed down with lacklustre mission design, endless repetition, and a confused, blundering disaster of a message. Maneater has moments of brilliance, but they're islands in a lagoon of bollocks-infested water, and it gets increasingly tiring to swim between them.

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Feature: A round-up of the realistic

The Flare Path: A2Z

A is for Alphabetised wargame and sim news. Every four weeks or so I hang up a streamer of industrial strength fly paper in The Flare Path water closet and see what wargame and simulation news items stick to it. Below is this month’s bag – 25 stories, most of which involve virtual vehicles and surrogate slaughter. If you’ve visited a transport museum or heritage railway in the past twelve months, or can put these battles – Kohima, Katzbach, Khe Sanh – in chronological order, you probably won’t regret clicking where it says…

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