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Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity

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Feature: Legally distinct from the bird hole

I am going to become a battery chicken farmer in Stardew Valley

I am not a very good Stardew Valley farmer. Really experienced players, who take their farming seriously, they know what's up. They make their own almanacs, they intensively farm pumpkins or sunflowers to get the best yeilds, and they know how to place sprinklers for peak watering efficiency. I do not know any of those things.

My cruel predicament in Stardew is that really I would prefer not to be a farmer at all. Inasmuch as there can ever be a wrong way to play a game, I play Stardew Valley wrong, because I strive not for economic efficiency (thank god you don't have to do crop rotation) but efficiency of activity. To whit: I cannot be bothered to keep tilling and planting and so on. I haven't specialised my farm towards anything. You'd think I'd have given up on the farming dream by this point, wouldn't you? But last night I had an epiphany. A chicken based epiphany.

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The Fallout 76 clown car continued its strange journey this week, as the recently semi-redeemed MMO stumbled over another technical hitch.

The popular in-game event Fasnacht Day was expected to start on Monday, but was quickly stalled by a bug. Players reacted with great frustration as the event was taken down, depriving everyone of an hourly semi-charming, semi-creepy masked robot march. Bethesda report that all is now well, and the event went live again early this morning.

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The game event cancellations are pushing even deeper into the year now, as Blizzard have announced BlizzCon 2020 is a no-go. The event usually takes right at the beginning of November, but due to ongoing concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic they've made the decision to cancel it.

"We've talked about different paths we could take, and how each one could be complicated by fluctuations in national and local health guidelines in the months ahead," they said. "Ultimately, after considering our options, we've come to the very difficult decision to not have BlizzCon this year."

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While the Silent Hill series still seems basically dead, and maybe that's for the best, parts will return in Dead By Daylight. The 1v4 multiplayer horrorshow's next DLC pack will introduce Silent Hill, with Cheryl Mason as a playable survivor, Pyramid Head as a killer, and the school as a new map. DBD has long had guest characters out horror films, from Halloween to Scream, so this is fairly natural. Hell, it's better than Konami tend to treat Silent Hill.

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Feature: Holmes is where the heart is

Have You Played… Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter

I am a particular fan of the title of this game, because it sounds like Holmes himself is the daughter in question. Like it was his nickname when he played rugby at school or something. Despite that, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter is a thoroughly enjoyable entry in Frogwares' saga of third-person detect 'em ups, notable for having good detecting elements, and also never having a version of Sherlock I wouldn't go to bed with. Look at 'em both up there, Holmes in his shirtsleeves and Watson with his fashion facial hair. What good lads.

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Ubisoft are revamping four vintage Anno games

Ubisoft today announced revamped rereleases of four vintage games from the colony-building strat-o-sim series Anno, due in June. The Anno History Collection will bring new versions of Anno 1602, Anno 1503, Anno 1701, and Anno 1404 will newfangled fanciness including 4K resolutions and multiplayer matchmaking, all while preserving save compatibility.

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Feature: Rogue rogue rogue your boat

Stoneshard early access review

Like any decent professional videogames journalist, I have spent the last ten years devaluing the term “roguelike” through overuse. Anything where a goblin politely waits for you to take your turn? Roguelike. Anything where a big slime can permanently murder you? You better believe that’s a roguelike. We would walk down the street with wheelbarrows full of roguelike. We burned piles of it just to keep warm. We introduced the word “roguelite” as a form of quantitative easing, but it failed to curb spiralling rogueflation. So now, faced with Stoneshard – a roguelike that’s really, very, incredibly, actually like Rogue – I’m left reaching for useful adjectives.

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“Skyrim Grandma” cuts back on videos

"Skyrim Grandma" Shirley Curry has drastically cut back on her videos for the sake of her health and enjoyment of the game.

The 84 year old started sharing her Skyrim games in 2015, and her warm, joyful videos made her famous enough to get her own mod, and even a role in the next Elder Scrolls game. She's racked up over 800,000 subscribers on YouTube, but only a tiny percentage are active viewers, and the work and pressure involved are affecting her health.

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I have not seen the Captain Tsubasa anime nor read the manga, but I am very into what I've seen of Captain Tsubasa: Rise Of New Champions. A football game where players have extremely anime special moves sounds wild. Allow me to describe my favourite from this new trailer: after a player slides forwards on his bum, two lads launch off his outstretched feet and, holding hands, surge into the air to simultaneously kick a ball so hard it lights up with blue flame. Yes, please, thank you.

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Seeing as real-life racing has been suspended due the Covid-19 pandemic, Formula E started its very own series of virtual races in rFactor 2 to keep up the racing season online. The Race At Home Challenge features actual Formula E drivers as well as esports players, competing together to keep fans entertained and raise money for Unicef. But alas, one driver went ahead and tried to cheat the system, getting an imposter to drive in his place at this weekend's event.

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Minecraft Dungeons has a secret cow level

In homage to one of the all-time action-RPG greats, Minecraft Dungeons has a secret level where you can fight herds of murderous cattle. Mojang's own action-RPG launched this morning, and folks have already discovered a nod to Diablo's infamous cow level, where wizards will be sent to mow down hordes of mooing mobs sprouting mushrooms. Killing cows: a cornerstone of the genre.

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Feature: All your 2020 PC release dates in one handy list

New PC games coming out in 2020

With all the various E3-type events starting to kick off in earnest now, the number of new PC games coming out in 2020 is getting bigger and bigger with every passing week. As a result, I thought it would be a good time to give our list of 2020 PC release dates another chunky update to make sure you know exactly when all the biggest and best PC games are coming out this year (as well as which big PC games have since been delayed until 2021).

Ordered by month, I've rounded up all of this year's new PC games so you can see exactly what's coming out and when. There are still lots of games whose release dates are TBA at the moment, but I'll be updating this list regularly as and when they get confirmed. In the mean time, here's your complete guide to PC gaming in 2020 as it currently stands.

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The Dota 2 International 10 Battle Pass has landed, and the ground hath buckled beneath its weight. There is a silly number of new cosmetics and features for those who buy it, and a few new features for those who don't. Everyone now gets to play mini-games during those inevitable mid-game pauses when one player vanishes, and everyone can join newfangled player guilds where you jointly earn cosmetic rewards. Only Pass owners can create guilds, but I bet you know at least one sucker.

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Folks rooting around in the recent release of Mafia III's Definitive Edition have found part of Berlin, a level scrap likely from a cancelled espionage game. Supposedly a project Hangar 13 started after Mafia 3, the game known as Rhapsody was never announced but whispers have leaked out before. Now here's a rough outline of Berlin, which might be the most we'll ever see of Rhapsody. That's a nice little find, though it's less nice that some players are reporting the Def Ed has brought new technical problems too.

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Quantic Dream's trio of old PlayStation exclusives are being plonked in front of a new set of PC players next month, as Heavy Rain, Detroit: Become Human and Beyond: Two Souls are arriving on Steam on June 18th. They first launched on PC last year via the Epic Games Store, and it's not long now before they're freed of their exclusivity shackles. So, which will you try first? The murder mystery about finding your stolen kid? The android simulator that makes you decide if robots should be free? Or will you become a young girl trying to figure out what's up with her weird friend? You decide!

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Feature: I mean, it worked with Illagers

5 Minecraft Dungeons features that should be in Minecraft

Minecraft Dungeons may have borrowed very little from its parent game in terms of features, sticking largely to the blockbuster construction game's aesthetics instead, but that's not to say it hasn't given plenty back. While Dungeons was being developed, according to executive director David Nisshagen in my interview with him, its team came up with illagers, a.ka. angry squidwards, in order to provide a staple humanoid mob for the player to batter by the dozen throughout the blocky ARPG's levels. But the idea was swiftly nabbed by the regular Minecraft team, and before Dungeons was even in the game, illagers were HARR-ing their way across Minecraft worlds from the spring of 2019. So, if the folks at Mojang are open to sneaking elements into Minecraft from its younger sibling, what else should make its way in? Here's my pick - but let me know what you'd like to see make the jump across in ye olde comments section.

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Minecraft Dungeons is out now

Maybe there's not much Minecraft in Minecraft Dungeons, but there is a pretty decent action-RPG or so I hear. Mojang's click-click-click-click-clicking dungeon crawler launched today, with nary a block to mine or tree to punch but some weird and fun builds to experiment with. I'm up for an ARPG where one armour perk gives you a pet bat.

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Just when you thought the excellent Logitech G915 Lightspeed wireless keyboard couldn't get any better, Logitech have just gone and announced they're making a compact tenkeyless model of it, the G915 TKL. Launching this June for £200 (US pricing TBC), it's still going to cost you a pretty penny when it comes out next month, but if you've been searching for a space-saving gaming keyboard that does away with all those pesky wires, then the G915 TKL could be just the thing.

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Feature: Tag is not husband material

The 5 best but most terrifying Sims 4 challenges

My guess is that when you were a kid, right, you were one of two types. You either used your action figures to play out imaginative (if potentially weird) stories, or you picked one of them up and went "I bet I can make Lion-O's legs go in the splits so far that they fall off", before proceeding to test your hypothesis.

Players of The Sims can broadly be divided into these two categories as well. And as far back as the first in the series, the latter set have been pushing the game to its tensile limits by introducing play challenges. In these, you create a Sim, or a family of Sims, and then play their lives out according to a set of very prescriptive and often torturous rules. Now, in the age of The Sims 4, these challenges have been refined. Sub-rules have been added. Players try to complete even the most difficult ones in a 24-hour span. It is compelling. And also frightening. Let me introduce you to some of my favourites.

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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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