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You know what Borderlands 3 was missing? A minigame that lets you sort through DNA samples from human poop. If that doesn't sound particularly appealing, you should know that it's all for a good real-life cause. Borderlands Science is a new arcade game you can find in-game, and it's created by scientists who need your help with their research into all the microbes hanging out in your gut - and playing it rewards you with some brand new skins and heads.

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Feature: Band of bothers

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord (early access) review

The best thing I can say about this, the most eagerly awaited medieval ARPG of all time, is that I want to keep playing it. I have played exactly four million games, a number which is only possible when you learn to drop something you're playing without hesitation. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, for all its teething problems, will probably be brilliant when it's finished.

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Apex Legends' Old Ways event has begun, bringing with it Bloodhound's Town Takeover on the World's Edge map, as well as the addition of a permanent map rotation and duos. This will be good news to a lot of Apex fans who like dropping into a match with a trusty partner, but unfortunately it's bad news to those who were hoping for a solos mode. It's even worse news for you lone wolves actually, as Respawn said that solos "negatively impacted the game, especially when it came to new player retention" when they tried it out as a limited-time game mode.

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The organisers of E3 are not planning to host an official online replacement this year after all, though I don't think that will be much of a problem. When the Entertainment Software Association announced E3 2020's cancellation in March, due to the ongoing sitch, they did say they were considering arranging an "online experience" to fill in with announcements and that. Well, now they've confirmed that they decided not to. They've also this week reportedly confirmed dates for the E3 2021, when they do plan to return to sweaty meatspace.

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War never changes, but the number of people who are allowed to participate occasionally increases. Call Of Duty: Warzone is upping squad sizes to four. You can still queue separately for the version with three, if you like, and new weapons and modes are planned for later on.

This is part of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare's Season 3, which means that we've also got a couple new guns, three new regular multiplayer maps, and a truckload of cosmetic nonsense attached to the new battle pass.

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Feature: Or a cheeky Kabaddi ripoff

Doom Eternal’s multiplayer is a splendid game of cats and demonic mice

Doom Eternal doesn't have a Deathmatch mode. The multiplayer not a place where marines chase other marines: it's a place where one character gets to be the Slayer from the singleplayer, and two other players gang up on them as chunky demons. The idea was to capture the same feeling as the campaign, and yep, that it does. Grappling up to a jetpack monster is all the sweeter when there's a human lurking behind that demon's eyes.

What I like best about it, though, are the moments where you flip from fleeing to eviscerating.

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Sea Of Thieves' Ships Of Fortune update is just around the corner, inviting players to join up with their favourite trading companies to earn loads of extra gold and reputation. For the more "traditional pirates" amongst us, a brand new trader has emerged that I think you're going to like - The Reaper's Bones. These are the evil-looking folks that have been hanging out on Reaper's Hideout, and joining up with them will task you with robbing your rival sailors for all they're worth.

But that's not even the best bit! Get out of the way parrots and monkeys, because when the update drops on April 22nd we'll finally be able to have cats as pets!

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The Xbox controller long ago became the de facto standard for playing PC games with a pad, but Sony's DualShock 4 also got PC support a long time ago via Steam or a piece of software called DS4Windows. The DS4 a fine controller and I've used it every so often on PC, particularly when dabbling with PlayStation Now, Sony's remote play service on PC.

Sony have today released the first images and information about the "DualSense", the new controller that will ship with the PlayStation 5. There's no confirmation yet but the assumption is that it will follow its predecessor by working on PC as well. So: would you give up your Xbox controller for Sony's latest?

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Obsidian Entertainment tonight announced an early access launch date of July 28th for Grounded, their craft-o-survival game about teenagers shrunk down smaller than ants and turned loose in a back garden. If I've learned anything from the oeuvre of Rick Moranis, is that those kids are in for a tough time. It's a surprising game to see coming from a studio known for RPGs including The Outer Worlds, South Park: The Stick Of Truth, and Pillars Of Eternity, but who are you to pigeonhole them? While we've mostly heard about the four-player co-op so far, tonight's new look focused on the singleplayer side. Observe!

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There are currently 1.7 million people watching Valorant on Twitch, which means it's matched the game streaming platform's all-time record for the number of people watching a single game at the same time. That's not bad when you consider the previous record holder was Fortnite, a global phenomenon, and Valorant has only just entered closed beta. Maybe people are watching because they're excited for a new game from the makers of League Of Legends, or because they're excited for a first-person shooter following in Counter-Strike's footsteps. Or maybe it's because watching Twitch streams is how you get a key to enter the beta.

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The Steamlords at Valve have rummaged in their reams of data and emerged with a new blog post talking about what the growth of Steam (and the number of games on Steam) has meant for developers. Coming up with a questionable definition of "success", they note that Steam in 2019 saw three times as many games earning $10,000 in their first fortnight compared to Steam in 2013. They went on to estimate that if they had kept Steam's catalogue curated and tightly controlled, a whole lot of games they consider successes wouldn't have even been released on Steam. So, that's good? Also, obvious?

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Feature: Build a better roomba

Premature Evaluation: Good Company

Ah, industry. You gotta love it. Men with twirly moustaches posing in front of giant chains. Women standing next to teetering piles of code used to send astronauts to the moon. Countless ghosts of mangled Victorian children haunting the greased cogs of matchbox factories. Elon Musk riding atop a tiny submarine like a cowboy to the bottom of the Mariana Trench to rescue his frisbee. Humanity is at its very best when it’s building, designing and producing the vast quantities of plastic garbage demanded by the growling and insatiable stomach of our sexy benefactor and god, global capitalism.

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Feature: License to Illidan

Blizzard locked me in a personal hell with Hearthstone’s Demon Hunter, and it was great

Hearthstone's new Ashes Of Outland expansion is out this evening, and having spent a couple of days last week playing with the new card set, I can confirm it's really, really fun. Completely ridiculous, as is increasingly the case with Hearthstone, but undoubtedly a solid expansion - and in my opinion at least, more fun than any of last year's three.

Obviously, the headline addition to Ashes is the new Demon Hunter class, and its angsty purple frontman Illidan. To get the measure of Hearthstone's first new playable class since its launch in 2014, I asked Blizz if they could sort me out with a preview build of the new expansion, and they responded by creating a personal hell for me: a server with room for only two people, where I would be magically imprisoned, like Illidan himself, until I had learned the secrets of the big purple man. The games that followed would involve an awful lot of magical green fire, plus a swarm of albatrosses and more than a few self-replicating tyrannosaurs.

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The former creative director of DayZ's standalone version has joined RocketWerkz, the studio of DayZ creator Dean Hall, to work on a new survival game. Brian Hicks split from Bohemia Interactive and DayZ in 2018, and now he's with Dean "Rocket" Hall, who bailed on Bohemia and DayZ in 2014. All Hall says to describe RocketWerkz's technically-unannounced survival game is that it is "massive". Hang on, you know what else is massive? Jungle. That can only be a huge hint at a tropical setting.

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Game composers and YouTubers are in a murky battle for copyright control

Every time I sit down to write, the first thing I do isn’t open up a blank document, it’s find some nice video game music to listen to. And loads of it can be found free on YouTube. Ambient music from Skyrim, relaxing compilations from Animal Crossing, lo-fi Legend of Zelda remixes Sometimes, work or study just can’t get done without my 10-hour loop of Chrono Trigger’s Corridors Of Time.

Looking at the millions of comments, uploads, and views these uploads get, it’s clear that I’m not alone. If you’re reading this on a PC right now, there’s a statistically decent chance that YouTube is currently open and playing some video game tunes in another tab. And it’s only possible because YouTube doesn’t treat video game music as it does other popular music.

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In case people haven't yet heard or don't believe that staying home when possible is pretty sensible right now, the UK government have launched a partnership with several video game companies to spread the message into games. Sniper Elite studio Rebellion say they're going to put messages echoing the government's "Stay At Home, Save Lives" instructions onto game menus, and Dirt Rally 2.0 has already raised warning banners on in-game tracks.

"I'm delighted to see the UK's brilliant video games industry stepping up to strongly reinforce this message to gamers across the UK," culture secretary Oliver Dowden said.

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Movement is make or break for VR games. A convincing, non-nauseating solution is vital, and Half-Life: Alyx does an admirable job of navigating through that. Valve have explained how they got there, in a new video that brings up sound design, pathing fiddliness, and why they had to ditch a certain system because tall testers kept hitting their virtual heads on low-hanging pipes.

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Feature: What's wet and satisfying and leaves you feeling disappointed in yourself?

Have you played… Dead Cells?

Slick is such a brilliant word for describing Dead Cells, Motion Twin's marvellous roguelite Metroidvania. It immediately gets across that we're dealing with a clever, fast-paced, and relentlessly satisfying game. But there's also a wetness to the word that perfectly matches the oozing pixel effects, the bioluminescent lighting, the squish of a heavy broadsword through dungeon-dwelling flesh.

So, quite definitively: Dead Cells is one slick goddamn game.

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Tactical Breach Wizards is back to show off gameplay from a more updated build than the last video we got a look at. Coming from the maker of Gunpoint and Heat Signature, the modern day wizard cop tactics game looked swell already, but a meatier look at combat abilities is worth pulling over for. It looks to allow for lots of tinkering about with your turns, hemming and hawing over moves as you rewind time to try another option. Also, lots of cop jokes.

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Survival MMO Last Oasis has had a rough launch week, but it looks like things might settle soon. After taking the servers offline to address stability issues that were making the game largely unplayable, it's now back online and allegedly on better footing. Donkey Crew say that they won't be shutting down servers or wiping player progress again now that they're once again publicly available.

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Holy Hogwarts, look at this entire dang Harry Potter-themed RPG built inside Minecraft. This mod has been in the works for a while, building on a huge Hogwarts Minecraft build from several years back. What I enjoy most is how reminiscent it is of the (not great, as I remember) Harry Potter games of the earliest aughts. The entire modded adventure is now available to play alone or with pals.

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As with many other events in the year of Covid-19, Now Play This—the yearly exhibition on experimental game design—transitioned to a virtual space last weekend. Although not every planned part of the exhibition could be shown off in the new format, they still appeared to get up to some neat stuff that you can now watch back yourself. Game designer Gareth Damian Martin took players on a photography hiking trip in No Man's Sky while Robert Yang leads a tour of Half-Life by way of the Sven Co-op mod.

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Come join the RPS community Discord!

Hey, you. Yes, you! You look like you're after a Discord full of decent folks to chat and play games with. May I recommend to you the RPS community Discord? It's been around for yonks but I am today pointing it out again because hey, it's a good time for a good place. I've been on the RPS Discord a while myself, falling into our Destiny 2 clan and then Destiny raiding and well, that's me cursed for life. It's nice.

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Welcome to the day the music died. Or, well, not entirely. Rocksmith still has plans for "weekly online content," but Ubisoft San Francisco have wrapped up their planned DLCs for the guitar tutorial game as of the newly-released Opeth Song Pack. The team is moving on to a new—as yet unannounced—project. More music? We shall see.

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Regions Of Ruin is an excellent 2D side scrolling action-RPG. It's also a town builder, as you build up a settlement from nothing using the wood, stone, iron, and all the other biz you liberate from bandits, monsters, and generally anyone who gets in the way. It's a little bit like Terraria, with more of a fighty, loot-happy structure. And throwing axes.

It's currently free to keep on Steam if you grab it by Tuesday, and honestly, it's probably the best bargain you'll see this week.

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Update: Annnd now it's official, Saints Row: The Third Remastered is coming May 22nd. See some old/new comparisons in the trailer below.

While we still don't know anything about the new Saints Row game that Volition are currently making, thanks to a wee leak we do know that the 3rd Street Saints will revisit an old adventure in Saints Row: The Third Remastered. That name comes via a listing in the Entertainment Software Ratings Board database, an organisation who tend to y'know not just make up games for funsies. Seeing as publishers THQ Nordic haven't yet announced SR3 Remastered, exactly what it changes is unknown - but we can probably guess.

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Feature: Nay, humbly request

5 things I demand from Witchbrook, Chucklefish’s new magical Stardew-like

I'm still struggling to grow a respectable pumpkin in my Stardew Valley farm, and now it seems I'll have more obstacles to contend with, as I've been diverted by Stardew publisher Chucklefish. Last week they released three (3) new screenshots for Witchbrook, their upcoming life sim set in and around a magic school. It has been described by many, not unreasonably, as "Harry Potter meets Stardew Valley".

This is exciting to me. I like games like this, and am also a HP fan (Hufflepuff; unofficial merch only). Witchbrook doesn't have a release date yet, as Chucklefish are operating on an it's-done-when-it's-done-and-no-crunch policy, but the new screenshots show off a very detailed, very beautiful world. And having no set release date means they have plenty of time to put in all the features that I, their number one customer, insist upon! Which I will now list for you here.

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