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Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity

Discover the best of EGX Rezzed: great new indie games, insight from developers, community streams and more!

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It feels criminal to do this to Doom Eternal. Doom is the ur-FPS. Not the first, by any means, but the most - the first-person shooter we've been chasing for decades. In their own act of heresy, though, modders have plucked the eyes from our Doom Slayer and hung them a few feet behind his rear, turning Doom Eternal's meaty in-your-face gorefest into a ludicrously nippy third-person adventure.

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No, I didn't spill coffee on the keyboard. Yes, the ellipses are part of the title. 10 years after its console debut, NieR is heading to PC with the elegantly-titled Nier: Replicant vers.1.22474487139... - not a remake or a remaster, Square Enix insist, but a spruced-up re-release that's polishing up the audio, sprinkling in some new content, and finally bringing the cult-classic RPG to Steam.

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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for continuing to stay inside. Here's the best writing about videogames from the past week.

In a remarkable piece for Vice, Jess Morrissette laid out the toxicity-endorsing marketing practices of companies in the early 2000s. The headline is a little overstated, seen as Morrissette does recognise the mutually reinforcing relationship between players who brought toxicity and the companies who capitalised on it.

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Feature: Read all about it!

All that Half-Life, Epic’s publishing, Covid disruptions, and more of the week’s big news

This week, Mount & Blade 2's early access launch date was moved up by one whole day, Epic Games launched a publishing scheme, Half-Life: Alyx was the talk of the town, and that ol' new coronavirus continued to disrupt things. Read on for more of the week's PC gaming goings-on in our News Digest, and do also check out the Weekly Updates Update for the week's big patches.

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It's not a great time for physical games. While us videogames lot are enjoying more time than ever to play, it's practically impossible to run a weekly board or card game meet when all the shops are shut and any human interaction could lead to contracting a (potentially deadly) virus. In an effort to keep the magic alive, Wizards Of The Coast are running three weeks of special Friday Night Magic events to help MTG communities stay alive online with Magic: The Gathering Arena.

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Google Stadia might still be struggling to find its place in people's living rooms. But for one studio's home offices, it's becoming an invaluable piece of tech. After Covid-19 hit their home state of Washington pretty hard, Destiny 2 developers Bungie have explained the beefy laptops and cloud streaming workarounds that aim to keep Guardians fighting while working from home.

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Feature: Sea for yourself

In Other Waters is emphatically not Subnautica

It's an infinite universe, you know. And if there's life out there, there'll be absolutely tons of it. Loads and loads and loads of planets, with unfathomable numbers of worms and that to categorise. But the human imagination is, alas, less infinite. And so, even though there could be as many games about exploring alien oceans as there are (potentially) alien oceans to explore, any such game will instantly be compared with the mighty Subnautica, and will have to work hard to prove its originality, if it wants to make a name for itself.

Enter, then, In Other Waters. It's one of the games the RPS VidBuds have been playing this week as part of Rezzed Digital, and indeed, its premise is near identical to Subnautica's: someone is stuck on a watery alien world, and explores the local ecosystem while working away at some larger mysteries. But beyond that premise, it takes a wildly different approach to almost every element of its design, to the point where comparison is near-meaningless. And you know what? It's bloody brilliant.

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For as long as there's been Minecraft, there's been people who want to re-create the world in Minecraft. For one modder, though, it's not enough to have a to-scale replica of our pale blue dot recreated in Mojang's block-builder. A new project named Build The Earth is looking for talented builders with too much time on their hands, bringing them together to fully recreate every last man-made structure on Earth in Minecraft.

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Feature: Robots in disguise

Unspottable challenges you to be a convincing NPC

The RPS VidBuds have put up a bunch of let's plays as part of Rezzed Digital, as this year's iteration of the usual Indies Uncovered stream, and they've already found some solid games in the pack. But one of the surprise standouts from the bunch, for me at least, is Unspottable.

I hadn't heard of Unspottable before, but after watching VidBud Matthew and Hardware Queen Katharine play together, I am both impressed and intrigued. It's a multiplayer versus game where you have to blend in with a group of identical NPC robots (or robits, as is more correct), whilst also trying to spot which robits are your fellow players. Once you think you have spotted an interloper, you must deal with them in the traditional manner of dealing with interlopers: that is to say, you punch them a good'un.

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The killing fields are open, team. Predator: Hunting Grounds's free weekend kicked off last night, letting you skulk about a lush open forest full of heavily-armed soldiers, super-powered alien mercenaries, and enough mud to give Hollywood's favourite muscle-man a mud bath three-times over - all without spending a penny.

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Feature: Games for troubled times

Priceless Play – 28 March 2020

Right. Well. It's a bizarre situation we find ourselves in (and I do hope you are in), and I am here to provide you with your weekly dose of free games. I can't deny that it's rather surreal to turn on my video game machine (that's my computer) and behave as though everything is some semblance of normal. While this routine remains the same, so many other things do not.

The games below the cut are a mishmash of things -- games with peaceful meditations, games with poems, games to celebrate and bemoan being in isolation, and a rhythm game so difficult I might as well be Miles Teller in Whiplash.

Wherever you are, I hope you're well, safe, and taking care of each other.

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Bouncy mobile block-buster Holedown is worming its way onto Steam. Following brilliant, abstract kinda-sorta-RTS Rymdkapsel, Swedish developer Martin "Grapefrukt" Jonasson's 2018 puzzler is a deceptively smart little gem that has you shattering planets at the behest of an ever-present communist worm. Two years later, the worm's domain is spreading to PC - and this time, you can bring a friend.

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Watch the final day of Rezzed Digital here

Rezzed Digital, the livestreamed stand-in for EGX Rezzed, wraps up today with a final few hours of fun. All are invited to come watch streams of Gang Beasts and something named 'Animal Crossing' [? -ed.], even if they are hosted by non-us people. Do remember that you can still watch Thursday and Friday's archived streams, if you missed out on the sessions including Imogen talking about getting into writing about games as well as Jason Statham coming for Nate. Matt, Sin, and Alice Bee have looked at their favourite games that were due to be at Rezzed also, and the VidBuds played some nice ones too.

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As Rezzed Digital continues, I will continue to highlight some of the fine work being done by the VidBuds for Indies Uncovered. Usually a series of livestreams, the VidBuds have adapted to present circumstances by turning them into a series of lovely demo videos on the RPS YouTube channel.

Another one I'm keen to highlight is the demo of Wingspan, a digital version of a popular bird-based board game. VidBud Matthew has a lovely time with it (depending on your interpretation of lovely).

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Resident Evil 3's multiplayer horror mode was meant to have a free beta beginning today. Capcom say that "technical issues" have delayed the beta for PC and PS4 players but not Xbox One, interestingly. They've yet to give an update on when the beta will be available for PC players. Fortunately there's still the regular RE3 demo while we wait.

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Feature: One Off The List

The most satisfying physics in PC games

An obscenely rich teenager throws his VR controller across the room in a fit of blind panic while playing Half-Life: Alyx. It leaves the window of his bedroom at 5m/s. It falls 10m vertically and hits his neighbour’s greenhouse, smashing the glass. How many metres did the controller travel horizontally before coming to a stop in the tomatoes? Use a kinematic formula to determine your answer and show your wor--

UGH, physics. Here are 10 games where physics is not boring, but good.

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Summer Games Done Quick, the warmer branch of the biannual speedrunning and charity marathon, will be delaying until August 2020 because of the Covid-19 coronavirus. SGDQ's organisers explain that the event planned to take place in June is being pushed back by two months. Game submissions and volunteer applications are being wiped clean so that those who are still able to attend can submit information.

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We've no idea when the paid version of giant world sim Dwarf Fortress will finally be available, but in the meantime Bay 12 are showing off what the officially overhauled textures will look like. I imagine you've seen its original ASCII maps before. They're black screens with bright green, yellow, and cyan all over that hurt to look at. The new textures are much easier on the eyes, though I'm sure purists will staunchly stick to the original view.

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Things are plenty uncertain enough with many folks' actual housing situation as they find themselves out of work while the Covid-19 coronavirus spreads. While you've got bigger real life concerns, at least you won't need to spare a worry for your in game real estate. Final Fantasy XIV has canceled automated demolitions of unattended player houses for the foreseeable future.

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Feature: Cheap games, graphics cards, SSDs and more

Best PC gaming deals of the week – 27th March 2020

Ah, I do love a good bit of sunshine to go with my deals hunting and continued self-isolation - if only so I can bow down at the great PC gaming deals altar I've put together in my back garden, like the fine fellows up the top there. Indeed, the game deals bonanza continues this week, with loads of great discounts to help stave off that dreaded cabin fever while we're all in a corona-based lockdown. There's 40% off Metro Exodus, 70% off Assassin's Creed Odyssey and 30% off The Outer Worlds, plus loads more all vying for your wallet this week. So let's dispense with this chit-chat and get back to singing the praises of the deals gods, for they are our one true saviour in these strange, strange times. To the deals!

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In a new development video for Microsoft Flight Simulator, Asobo Studio explain that they've created a massive shared world for all pilots. That sounds pretty cool, unless you'd rather not be flying next to some yahoo doing barrel rolls in a 747. Fortunately, you'll be able to apply filters to online play so that you only see the folks playing how you are, whether that's flying by the rules or doing sillier stuff.

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Now, I'm not entirely sure why you'd want to bother using a pistol when Doom Eternal starts you off with a shotgun, but hey, there's one hidden in the game's files anyway if you fancy a go with it. It's a proper working weapon by the looks of things, just one that never made it into the final version of the game. You can get it by using console commands on your PC, though considering the rest of Doom Guy's arsenal, a little handgun seems a bit tame at this point.

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Feature: Funderlords

Wot I Think (now it’s left beta): Dota Underlords

I'm in a good place with Dota Underlords. We're long past that initial rush, those halcyon days where layers of the puzzle kept peeling away, one after the other. We're past the rough patch, too, when it seemed like we were over. That long plateau. We're comfortable, now. I can see the path that leads from here, the subtle ways I can improve.

So what if the spark's gone? I've settled for less.

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Four new guns are now up for grabs as drops in Call Of Duty: Warzone, thanks to last night's patch. These are the 725 Shotgun (a two-shot terror which dominated Modern Warfare for a while), MK2 Carbine marksman rifle (an olde lever-action rifle), the EBR-14 marksman rifle, and the .50 GS handgun (a Desert Eagle). Warzone and Modern Warfare also got a new premium operator, a fella named Talon who has a pet dog he calls in for finisher moves.

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Feature: Playing favourites

The 10 most exciting indie games from Rezzed Digital 2020

As you may have noticed, we've been throwing a Rezzed Digital party over the last few days, and were inundated with demo and preview builds for a whole plethora of interesting indie games. We weren't able to play them all - but we played a lot. As is our way, a few of us got together to share our pick of the bunch, which coincidentally turned out to be a nice round 10! We weren't even trying to do that.

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After seven years of waiting, Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is finally almost here - and it'll actually be a little early. TaleWorlds Entertainment today announced they're bumping the sandbox warfare RPG's date up, shifting its early access launch from March 31st to March 30th. That's one whole extra day! But hey, each day feels about six years long right now.

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With its latest update, Mordhau has opened up a whole new castle for us to run around sticking swords into people. It's good, based on the ten minutes I've spent being cut to pieces so far, but that's not all that's new. The Mountain's Peak map has been expanded, ranked duels have left beta, there are new cosmetics, and the combat's been tightened up in a bunch of ways I don't understand. I think I'm feeling the impact of them, though. The swordplay's never been sharper.

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Feature: Panzer Corps 2 reconnoitred

The Flare Path: Unhexceptional

What do Slitherine's latest piece of hexiana and the coronavirus crisis have in common? They both invite comparisons with WW2, but, on close inspection, bear little resemblance to the 1939-45 conflict. Panzer Corps 2 is as stout as a Sturmtiger and perfectly capable of accelerating clock hands and monopolising cerebra, but loyalty to its predecessors means most of the time it feels more like a tough military puzzle game than an insightful simulation of mid-20th Century warfare.

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