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Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity

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Mud! Mud! Glorious mud! Nothing quite like it for cooling the petrol. Always happy to wallow in the hollow, Dirt developers Codemasters today confirmed a return to the sim-ish side of their mucky racing series, announcing Dirt Rally 2 for launch in February 2019. Or 'DiRT Rally 2.0', if you're the daft gits in charge of naming these things. Here, come watch the announcement trailer for some grubby cars.

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If you're sick of old people telling you you'll never amount to anything, then the launch trailer for Assassin's Creed Odyssey should be right up your street. The game's out next Friday, so you can spend the intervening time deciding whether you're going to stab a Greek prophet who's clearly rubbish at his job.

The new Ass Creed is big on choices, with branching quest paths and the option to play as a man or a woman right from the start. I had a little go on Odyssey at EGX, and I'm definitely going to play as Kassandra because Alexios was an arse.

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Feature: My favourite is Clomper

Ooblets aims to be more than the sum of its influences

Chickadingding, Fleeble, Gullysplot, Plob. “Why, the good people of Rock Paper Shotgun have finally lost it!” you might cry. But these nonsense words are poised to become household names. They’re the names of a selection of Ooblets, the titular cutesie creatures of Glumberland’s upcoming town life indie game.

If you’ve seen any of the grassroots marketing behind Ooblets, you already have an idea of the charming, laid-back world it's attempting to create. You can easily see sprigs of Pokémon, Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley in its garden, but that’s not to say it isn’t making any meaningful strides of its own, experimenting with and riffing off the features it's drawing influence from.

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Mega-budget as it may be, Final Fantasy 15 has always been content to walk its own road, so it's not that weird that its latest cross-promo update is with a game that doesn't exist yet. In a big patch released today, Prince Noctis can stumble into a new adventure with Sarah, protagonist of upcoming mobile RPG Terra Wars. It's being developed by Mistwalker, a team of ex-Square Enix folks. Those playing FF15's online multiplayer can now also dress up in Lara Croft's iconic tomb-delving gear, and listen to some Tomb Raider tracks on the radio in-game. Nifty.

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Good things take time, and the lush sprite art in Lunar Ray's just-released Metroidvania Timespinner clearly took a while to make. Even when it was Kickstarted four years ago, Timespinner looked striking, and the extra time in development has only done it good.

Looking a lot like genre grandpappy Castlevania: Symphony of The Night (just check those powerful walk animations), it tells the story of a young woman travelling back in time to avenge her family by destroying an empire. While mechanically familiar, this one absolutely captures the look of the SNES era's best, with a PSX-era soundtrack. Below, the launch trailer.

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Today brings one more twist to the story of Telltale's tragic end. As reported by Polygon, the company has been hit by a class-action lawsuit filed by a former employee over a possible breach of local law.

The prolific adventure studio laid off almost its entire staff last week (minus a skeleton crew who will stay on for a little while longer) with no warning or severance. The suit alleges that this was in violation of California employment law (the WARN act, specifically), and the studio may yet owe the fired staff a full 60 days pay and benefits.

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Other dino-park management games may boast 'authenticity' to a cinematic ideal, but sometimes you just want to put silly hats on primary coloured dinosaurs. WashBear's Parkasaurus made its early access debut today and looks to indulge that fantasy, as well as being a proper management sim.

Just because it's bright and cute doesn't mean that there's no chance of dinosaur rampages and fangoriously devoured guests either, but at least it'll be a funny story for the survivors. Below, a bright and very bouncy launch trailer.

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I've always thought the best RPGs are the ones where you have a home to come back to, to celebrate victory and plan your next - Pathfinder: Kingmaker, you get your own town. Released today, Kingmaker looks like familiar Baldur's Gate-esque RPG adventuring, but with personal purpose. You're securing your lands, and in-between quests you get to develop your burgeoning kingdom.

Based on the almost-D&D tabletop RPG Pathfinder (and its Kingmaker campaign series), the game was Kickstarted by devs Owlcat Games last June. Below, the launch trailer.

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Hey, what are y-- get out of my house. No, I meant the mine, where the miners work. Not my house. Get off my armchair, stop eating my -- oh, okay, one fight, but then you’ve really got to go. This free update in Absolver won’t news itself. The skinny fighting game has just added new kicks and Bruce Lee punches and armour and powers, you see, but most importantly players can now dive into an abandoned mining complex where a random assortment of rooms and enemies will let them harvest a shiny new type of moneystuff to spend on fashionable new waistcoats. I’m going down there right after I knock you out. Here, this is your controller. Yes, the broken one. Hiiiiiiiiii-YAH!

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Feature: Could everyone please stop calling Matt a monster

The bestest games of EGX

Matt: After four days of hosting panels, interviewing developers, streaming games on camera and poking at as many as we could on the show floor, Team RPS has returned from the hallowed halls of EGX. Now that we’ve nestled back into our treehouse nooks, it’s time to talk about the best things wot we saw.

So, Katharine, Dave and Alice 3.0. Which game won the show?

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A ragtag group of animes, their doctor dog, and their pet tank are out to save semi-magical notEurope from the notNazis during notWW2 through the powers of friendship and turn-based tactical squad combat in Valkyria Chronicles 4, released today. While the first game in Sega's series took six years to come from consoles to PC, this one is nicely launching on the same day for us all, so huzzah. And it's pretty deece, Steven T Wright said in our Valkyria Chronicles 4 review, albeit with a flaws unfortunately familiar from earlier in the series. But did I mention your doctor dog - your dogtor? Your animes have a dogtor. Meet him in the launch trailer below.

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Feature: Grey. Concrete. More grey. Fluffy beanies?

Have You Played… Batman Vengeance?

I don’t want to go on about my age here - it makes certain members of the team a bit annoyed - but Batman Vengeance came out when I was 7, nearly 8, years old. It’s a game I remember fondly playing with my dad at a computer that looked a lot like a microwave, getting stuck trying to traverse corners, and making a very blocky Harley Quinn cry. Batman’s chin has never looked so square.

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Feature: Scary as folk

Unearthing the folk horror of Mundaun

The rural idyll has a strange pull on us. Picture a green and pleasant land: white sheep dot rolling hills like puffs from a steam train. Children with flowers in their hair dance round coloured maypoles. All the while, in a white marquee, where bunting flaps in the breeze, oversized ribbons are being awarded for best sponge cake. Dig deeper however and we discover old hatreds buried beneath the pastures and furrowed ground.

There is growing nostalgia for the quaint charm of pastoral life, but alongside this a subgenre of horror that has seen a revival matched only by the restless undead. This is folk horror, with its haunting landscapes and eerie atmosphere. It’s a somewhat shapeless category that evaporates as soon as you try to pin it down. But one game is trying to capture it.

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You have three weeks to cancel plans and make new ones with all your pals, as Jackbox Games have announced their next bumper bundle of local multiplayer foolishness is almost here. The Jackbox Party Pack 5 is coming on October 17th, which is a Wednesday so maybe shoot for the 19th or 20th to fill a room with your chums (or a chatroom, if you don't mind wangling it online) to rap battle with robots, draw silly things, play an alien game show, answer weird trivia in You Don't Know Jack, and more. It's hard to guess which Jackbox games will be hits ahead of time, but each Party Pack is always fun to work through to discover the hot new weirdness.

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A couple of my friends went to Art Sqool but would never talk about it, so it's great to finally get a peek at what that was actually like for them. It turns out Art Sqool campuses are very big on the colours yellow and pink, and unsettling oversized objects that protrude from a reality adjacent to our own. No wonder they stayed mum.

Art Sqool is an upcoming simulation that aims to authentically recreate collegiate artistic learning, complete with the neural network that grades every student's MS Paint-like creations. I've had the song from the trailer below mewling away in a corner of my brain for the past five days, so I'm hoping that writing about it can provide some catharsis.

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Lara Croft's latest adventure, the third in the latest trilogy, sees her seemingly causing the apocalypse. Racked with guilt she heads to deepest, darkest Peru to locate a lost civilisation in the heart of the Andes to recover an artefact from Trinity. This guide will give you some beginner's tips and tricks for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, as well as explain how skill points work.

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Telltale Games have confirmed that they will indeed release episode two of The Walking Dead: The Final Season today as planned, despite last week's sudden and massive layoffs, and there is a chance they'll be able to finish the full four-episode season "in some form." Several potential partners have shown interest in supporting the series, Telltale say, though this is far from settled and it could all still collapse for business reasons. Not to mention that some former staff have said Telltale's Walking Dead team were amongst those laid off, so they'd need to, er, rehire folks. But it's a glimmer of hope for the game, at least.

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Feature: Cars served with some light seasoning

Forza Horizon 4 review

Mostly, I play the more hardcore racing sims. I want to be reminded of my time on real tracks, driving real cars. I want to work on my skills. I want to watch my replay and analyze mistakes and correct my technique. Taking it all a little too seriously is part of the fun for me.

However, sometimes I'm bloody tired. I'm tired from managing a four-year-old nonprofit organization, a three-year-old human, and a one-month-old human. It's a lot of work taking things Seriously®, and after a long day in which a dozen adults have asked me a dozen difficult questions and one tiny person has asked me “why” about eight million times, I just want to play a videogame while drinking a ginger beer. The energy just isn't there to try to shave two-tenths off my lap times in iRacing, but sometimes the desire to drive is. That's where Horza Forizon 4 comes in.

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Loot boxes are retreating across the Belgian front as Guild Wars 2 apparently becomes the latest game to axe sales of premium currency in the country, as reported by Gamasutra. While subscription-free (and free-to-play in general, if you don't mind missing out on expansions), Arenanet's successful MMORPG has always had loot boxes. The in-game premium shop offers keys to unlock randomly dropped boxes, as well as various random goodie bags. Those are now legally considered gambling, according to the Belgian Gaming Commission.

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Leather-clad raiders with neon green mohawks roam irradiated monuments to capitalism, their acid-spitting lizard-dogs in tow. Ashes 2063, by modder Vostyok is about as 80s an apocalypse can get, even after filtering it through a 2018 iteration of a 90s game engine. It's a free post-apocalyptic FPS (or total conversion mod, if you're old-school) built on the ever-popular GZDoom engine. Its first episode launched yesterday.

While 98% new, Ashes 2063 still requires some manner of Doom data file to fill the gaps. Fortunately, the (free) Freedoom will suffice, if you don't own Doom 2. Below, a launch trailer.

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Military FPS-heads who look back fondly at Battlefield 4's modern messy urban combat might want to take a peek at World War 3 next month. Developed by Necrovision studio The Farm 51 and announced back in June, it looks and sounds very much in the vein of Battlefield games past, and enters early access next month on October 19th, sneakily preempting the delayed Battlefield 5.

Below, a trailer from Gamescom last month, showing off its grey and smokey battlefields, cover destruction and other militaristic gubbins.

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Warhammer 40K Space Marines in Terminator armour stomping through levels shooting aliens in their many faces is fairly familiar and easy to understand, even when playing out as turn-based combat in Space Hulk: Tactics, but their Genestealer foes are a bit trickier. Unlike some recent Spulk games, Tactics will let us play as those sneaky Tyranids too, which will be novel for many who didn't play the original Games Workshop tabletop wargame. So, what do bugmen want, how does one go about pretending to control a larger force of bugs than one actually does, and just how delicious is a Space Marine's face? Some of these questions are answered in a new trailer below.

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Feature: Gather the tropes

Valkyria Chronicles 4 review

When it first came out a decade ago, Valkyria Chronicles came off as a delightfully odd duck: a sort of doe-eyed strategy JRPG that gave the Western-dominated strategy genre a much-needed taste of pastel anime charm. But its hybrid of third-person movement with turn-based tactics was relegated to consoles until a PC release in 2016. Now, for better or worse, Valkyria Chronicles 4 offers a grand return to the grounded militarized milieu that fans of the original know and love, outfitted with many of the same strengths, but with many of the same foibles riding on the underside. In this sense, it often comes off as a incremental sequel - a Valkyria 2 for the people that never played the actual Valkyria 2 - rather than the fourth iteration of that wonderful core idea.

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There's more to pro Rocket League today than punting giant balls into goals, as Season 9 opens up four previously 'casual' playmodes for ranked competitive play. More serious players will have to add cyber-volleyball (Dropshot), rocket basketball (Hoops), motorised ice hockey (Snow Day) and power-up filled anarchy (Rumble) to their car-to-ball resume.

On top of this, season 9 brings the usual slew of cosmetic goodies, more music, a bunch of Hot Wheels toy-themed DLC and a new stadium. Below, a DLC trailer plus a peek at the now-competitive extra modes. You can see the full patch notes for Season 9 here.

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In my Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 review last week, we discovered that Nvidia's super duper new graphics card was about as fast as their GTX 1080Ti when paired with Intel's Core i5-8600K CPU, representing only the teensiest bit of improvement to your overall frames per second output if you were to bung one in your PC today. That may well change once we start seeing more games take advantage of the Nvidia's clever speed-boosting AI-driven Turing tech, but until developers get their act together and start patching in support for all of Turing's best features, all we've got to go on right now is raw performance data.

With this in mind, I thought I'd take a closer look at how the RTX 2080 compares to its direct predecessor, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080. The former might not represent much of a leap past the GTX 1080's souped up Ti cousin, but regular 1080 owners should see much better results compared to what they can do now, particularly when it comes to gaming at 4K. Let's take a look.

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Feature: Memorable

Path to Mnemosyne review

As a collection of puzzles Path To Mnemosyne is a peculiar conflation of ingenious and over-familiar, as well as having a name you'll never remember when you want to find it on Steam later. As a small vignette, it looks beautiful (if slightly held back by clunky controls) offering smart puzzling ideas, in between some of the most hackneyed puzzles you can think of. I rather liked it.

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Turret-tapping notdwarf Torbjörn is next in Overwatch's queue for an rework, replacing and remaking some of his abilities to make him more flexible. His turret no longer has upgrades, for starters, his armour packs are out, and he'll get to spray pools of molten slag to block off routes and torch slaaags. This rework is now live on the test servers ahead of its official launch, for folks who wish to check it out, and that update also includes extra colourblind options. First, watch Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan introduce what's going on with Börjtorn in Blizzard's multiplayer FPS - and talk about the upcoming Halloween event.

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Feature: Lights, camera, rock, paper, shotgun!

The Monday Matinee: Highlights from the RPS video department

In case you live under a mossy rock, or aren't subscribed to Rock Paper Shotgun on YouTube (if not, why not?), I've got you covered. It's the weekly round-up of everything that happened last week on our channel. We do have our very own video corner on the site, so be sure to check back to that throughout the week to see what we're up to. Last week we gave you a whopping seven videos to watch, so here they are.

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Feature: If Euripides, Eumenides!

Have You Played… Zeus: Master of Olympus?

I'm shocked that this one hasn't already been covered in Have You Played, given that it appears on our Best Management Games Ever list, but this does mean that I get to be the one writing it now. Zeus: Master of Olympus (frequently now bundled as Acropolis with its expansion Poseidon: Master of Atlantis) is, and will probably forever remain, one of my most treasured games, let alone the specifics of genre. It carries the perfect balance of beauty, difficulty, detail, and puns. They're Ancient Greek puns, too.

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In the wake of Telltale Games laying off 250-odd employees with no notice or (reportedly) severance pay, former Taletellers have been sharing warm memories and silly goofs from working there. They've explained the secret rules of a running joke started in Sam & Max, revealed daft scenes they made to amuse themselves in The Walking Dead with bananas and eyebeams, explained a serendipitous sweary accident in Tales From The Borderlands, and even gushed a bit about good times. The situation sucks but the moments and memories being shared are at least bittersweet.

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