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Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity

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Screenshot Saturday Sundays! It's another scorcher, readers, so I hope you're all sunscreen'd up and well-hydrated for another hike through the weekend's best work-in-progress screenshots, videos, and gifs. This week: wake up for a road trip, perplexed alien bosses, puzzling mash-ups and a supernatural scrub.

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A sharp-as-hell slasher set to hit Steam and PS4 next year, Aeon Must Die made an unexpected splash during Sony's State Of Play showcase last Thursday. Unfortunately, it's not the game folks are talking about in the wake of Limestone's debut. Instead, the game has found itself locked in a minefield of allegations, as former developers accuse bosses at Limestone of abuse, harassment, unwarranted firings and IP theft.

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What's a bit of deicide, anyway? Announced as part of QuakeCon At Home's opening ceremony, Doom Eternal's first campaign expansion is The Ancient Gods: Part 1. Doomguy's first real post-release outing wants to ask if all that supernatural murder was worth the trouble it caused in the heavens. It's Doom, so I reckon the answer is yes - and any follow-up concerns should be easily rectified with a fistful of lead and a few pints of chainsaw fuel.

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Grab a whole lotta Quake for free this weekend

Have you played Quake? The eldritch lords at RPS HQ don't let me write HYP posts, of course, but I thought I'd ask anyway. See, it's QuakeCon At Home this weekend, and Bethesda are giving away a seminal piece of shooter history - and every character in its arena-blasting descendant Quake Champions - for free 'til the end of tomorrow.

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Feature:

What are we all playing this weekend?

Hello reader! It has, again, been a hot one, so Alice0 is lucky to still be in the sea this week. I, sadly, am not. I have eggs I need to use up, but anything egg based seems too hot to contemplate right now. Please, won't somebody take these eggs.

You know what else generates heat? My PC, which is why I am loathe to turn it on for any reason that isn't absolutely necessary. Thank God games fall into that category, eh? This week team RPS still has its collective eye trained on Grounded, but we're also still seeing some Death Stranding pop up. Plucky newcomer Fall Guys has made a bold new entry this week, though.

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QuakeCon At Home is live this weekend on Twitch, though it really should be called BethFest when you look at the schedule. The event has moved wholly online thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the rescheduled celebration of id’s and Bethesda’s games has an intriguing schedule. Here are a few of the highlights.

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To help you find the best Graphics card deals around, I check graphics card prices every single week for both UK and US buyers. This week, prices have stayed pretty static in the grand scheme of things, but there was one graphics card deal in particular that caught my eye: this water-cooled RTX 2080 Super from Gigabyte, which is down to $690. That's a drop of $50 compared to the cheapest card I was able to find last week, and it comes with its own cooling block built in as well. With RTX 2080 Ti prices sky-rocketing due to low stock levels, this is a decent buy for those after a high-end GPU at the moment.

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For years, there have been rumours that the Batman: Arkham City developers Rocksteady Studios were working on a Suicide Squad game. We dispatched our own squads to check out those rumours, but each time they vanished forever. Turns out we needn't have bothered with the one we sent out last week, because now the game has been confirmed in a tweet from the studio that shows a miserable looking Superman with a Suicide Squad target on his head. We’ll find out more on August 22.

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As you may have noticed, I've been quite impressed with Horizon Zero Dawn's PC port. I've been able to get the game running smoothly at 60fps on High settings even on a lowly GTX 1060 during the course of my testing, and I'm also very fond of Horizon's lovely ultrawide support, too.

Sadly, this hasn't been the case for everyone over the last couple of days. Numerous reports have emerged since Wednesday that Horizon Zero Dawn has been nigh on unplayable for lots of members of the press, and our friends at Digital Foundry even went as far as saying it's a "deeply disappointing" port. This hasn't been my experience of the game, and I must admit I was slightly baffled by the sheer number of fixes Sony said would be included in the Day One patch (which has since arrived). Even worse, there have been numerous reports that the patch hasn't actually fixed these issues at all. Here's what's been going wrong.

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If there's one thing I miss about Destiny 2, it's the armour. I'm a firm supporter of the whole "you can't save the world if you don't look good" thing. What I do not miss about this game, however, is how much you have to grind to look that good in the first place. Destiny 2's Solstice Of Heroes event kicks off on August 11th, and the new armour sets are lush, but good god do they seem like a lot of work to get.

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Feature: Barbarossa boiled down

The Flare Path: Stirs Cauldrons

Are we capable of coding an AI that will play this game competently and plausibly? I wish more wargame developers asked themselves this question early in the design process, and treated answers of “possibly” and “not sure” as reasons to head back to the drawing board. If they did we'd have less warfare fare but more games that convince and challenge the way Cauldrons of War: Barbarossa convinces and challenges.

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Feature: Battering an iron ostrich to pieces never felt so good

Horizon Zero Dawn PC review

If you've read anything I've had to say about Horizon Zero Dawn to date - and I've eulogised it twice already - the tone of this review shouldn't come as a surprise.

I knew the PC port would have to be either unplayable, or introduce an inexplicable wisecracking pelican as Aloy's sidekick, to change my opinion of what's probably my favourite ever action game. And so here we are. Despite a couple of hardware wiggles, and some tough moments with mouse and keyboard in a game shot through with PlayStation DNA, there is no pelican, and Horizon Zero Dawn is, for me, a very Bestest Best.

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Though Robin Hood was famously surrounded by his Merry Men, the newly-announced Hood: Outlaws & Legends is “a dark and gritty re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend”. Unveiled last night during Sony's State Of Play stream, Hood is a heist game where two teams of four aim to nab the same prize, fighting both AI guards and each other - a bit like Hunt: Showdown but with more tights. It looks like it has mixture of stealth and head bashing with friends, something I'm always up for.

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Control’s Alan Wake expansion comes out this month

So it is, the rumours are true. After months of speculation on whether or not Alan Wake might make an appearance in Control, Remedy Entertainment have revealed that he will indeed be in the game's next DLC, AWE. You won't have to wait long to see him either, because it releases on August 27th.

For a hot second, I thought that AWE might stand for Alan Wake Expansion, because that would've been a bit of a laugh. But no, it actually stands for Altered World Event, which is a thing that happens when paranormal forces make their way into the game's world.

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Feature: Who knew Pac-Man could be tense?

Have You Played… Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+?

Can you honestly say with a straight face that Pac-Man has seen the same success he once saw 40 years ago? He's been rebooted an embarrassing number of times; I still have nightmares about his "Ghostly Adventures". However, I'd argue that Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ (or Pac-Man DX+ for short) was one of the two times that Bandai Namco were onto something great.

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The good news? Spelunky 2 comes out next month! Hooray! The bad news is that, in all likelihood, the spelunkin' sequel's release will be exclusive to Sony's PlayStation tellybox. Boo, hiss, and all that rubbish. But while a PC release date remains as elusive as an eggplant, we can still enjoy a deeper dive into Spelunky's caves with developer Derek Yu.

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Call yourself Serious Sam 4, do ya? Well, you don't seem so "serious" about this launching in August lark to me. Unfortunately, the next entry in Croteam's run-and-gun-and-scream-and-explode 'em up won't launch this month as planned, with the devs today announcing that Sam's fourth shooting gallery has been delayed into late September. It takes time to pack 100,000 baddies onto one screen, after all.

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It might've taken eight years for Phantasy Star Online 2 to make it to the West, but fortunately, the jump from the Windows Store to Steam only took the Japanese MMO a mere couple of months. Sonic Team's free-to-play anime romp has finally found a place on Valve's shelves, making it easier than ever to hop in and bash a load of goblins in a Gundam.

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Playing defensively rarely pans out in Apex Legends - at least, it's never panned out for me. But then, I've never had a whopping great turreted machine gun to help lock down Skulltown. That's all set to change later this month with the addition of scrappy mechanic Rampart and her life partner Sheila, arriving as part of Apex Legends' sixth season on August 18th.

Sheila is the gun, by the way. I very much look forward to getting to know her.

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I like neat AI stuff. The prospect of making machines autonomously clever (whatever that means) is a fundamentally exciting concept to me, even though there are plenty of ways in which AI is being and will be used to make people's lives worse. I'm therefore a prime target for Two Minute Papers, a YouTube channel that takes interesting research papers and presents them with hyper-infectious enthusiasm.

One of their latest vids is about an AI someone's managed to trick into being really good at generating realistic basketball movements from a tiny amount of data. I don't understand how, but I don't particularly want or need to. This man just wrapped up his vid by whooping "what a time to be alive", and you know what? It is.

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We've got sitcoms based on game development, so hows about repaying the favour with a playable comedy series? That's the idea behind 3 Out Of 10, an interactive animated series from Mothergunship developers Terrible Posture Games. Debuting on the Epic Games Store today, each week should see the release of a new episode following the hijinks of a hapless gamedev studio trying to create their first half-decent hit.

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Feature: But please, call me Animal

Podcast episode 104: Mr Animal Peperami

This week's Electronic Wireless Show is a bit quick and dirty - like a spiced pork meat snack. We loved talking about baddies so much last time that we've done a bit of a lateral move, and have each brought our favourite 'bad' game to the pod-table. Because secretly, all games are good.

As ever, there is a healthy dose of chat along with our game talk. Nate's watery menagerie is multiplying at an alarming pace because all the animals are having sex, and he is also eating a lot of #BigOats, and basically Matthew and I want to talk about detectives again. Plus: weird old school adverts, KFC, and the return of the return of the Five Nights At Freddy's Book Club!

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An ominous shadow falls across the Earth, cast by a tentacled beast that reaches out to grasp the planet. Impostor Factory, the final game in the To The Moon series, is not effing around. Whatever journey the game will take you on, it involves the apocalypse, a time-travelling bathroom, and reliving lives. It is a “wholesome celebration of the bloody end of the world”, as the new trailer shows.

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It can be lonely being a Wargroove multiplayer fan. I hopped into Chucklefish’s Advance Wars-inspired strategy game the other day and there was only one game in the public lobby. I’m too shy to join such a game, so I left. But the latest patch might make that less of an issue, as it gathers up all the console versions and the PC and lets them play together.

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We're only a week away from our next dive into Cyberpunk 2077's neon-filled Night City, as CD Projekt Red have just announced their next Night City Wire showcase will be streamed on August 10th. The last one provided a nice little insight into some of the features we can expect to see in CD Projekt Red's upcoming RPG, and this one looks to be a similar affair. This time round they'll be taking a closer look at the game's character backgrounds, or "life paths", as well as showing the different types of weapons we'll be able to get our cybernetic hands on.

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As far as lockdown hobbies go, invasive surgery's a bit of a strange one. But if you insist on getting snappy with a scalpel, Surgeon Simulator 2 is opening the operating theatre a little early with a closed beta. Kicking off tomorrow, Bossa will give you a few days to get used to a stranger's insides before the medically-trainer hand-wobbler opens the hospital doors later this month.

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Drink More Glurp is a game about aliens who simply do not understand the Olympics. They think that it's all about paid sponsorships, and as a result, their sponsors have weirded-up all the events, making it so these poor aliens have to deal with increasingly bizarre competitions. Now, when I say aliens I mean you, because they're who you play as in this quirky party game. It's no small fry sports competition either, 'cos you can play it locally with up to 20 people. 20!

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