My favourite Thomas the Tank Engine book is 'Zlatko the Shunter', the one where Thomas travels to Yugoslavia for his holidays, makes friends with a Series 621, and becomes a committed market socialist. Sadly, the little orange Zlatkos that are everywhere in Derail Valley: Overhauled have nothing to say on the subject of planned economies, worker self-management, and the perils of unchecked incentivisation. If they had perhaps my week with Altfuture's better-than-ever Early Access rail sim wouldn't have ended the way it did.
Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity
Barbers ain't just for haircuts anymore24
It starts out super pretty then gets very scary14
A whole new Warcraft17
Looks like Ubisoft will be announcing Far Cry 6 during this weekend's Ubisoft Forward event, because the game's existence and a few details have been revealed by a page on the PlayStation Store. It appears to have gone live by accident and has already been taken down, but it was there. Far Cry 6 will send us to the "tropical paradise" of Yara to fight against a brutal dictator and his son, and yes we will get animal friends again. The store page said it's coming on February 18, 2021.
Ubisoft are holding their big notE3 Ubisoft Forward event this weekend, and to celebrate the occasion they're holding another massive game sale over on the Ubisoft Store right now, with savings of up to 85% off their entire back catalogue of games. Plus, you can save an extra 20% on your entire shopping cart with the code UBIFORWARD. Come and have a gander at the biggest deals below.
As we grapple to understand Destiny 2's looming spacepyramid threat, this week the enigmatic forces extended an olive branch in the form of a gun which... turns its victims into orbs you can pick up and dunk on their mates to murder them too? And this is to help us understand them? Great. We'll be having coffee mornings any day now, then. The new quest for Ruinous Effigy arrived in Tuesday's update and it's well worth getting. It's great fun to play with, and such a perfectly odd gift from an alien presence.
Death Stranding isn't going to be a particularly demanding game to play on PC if my early performance tests are anything to go by, but it is one of the few games at the moment that's going to support Nvidia's DLSS 2.0 upscaling tech to help it hit smoother frame rates at higher resolutions. And to celebrate it being one of a handful of playable DLSS games, Nvidia are bundling the game in for free with all RTX card purchases made between now and July 29th.
I appreciate a good brute. I like the word itself, apart from anything else. It just sort of falls out of your mouth like a lead ball, that'll probably break your toe when it lands. It's a dim, mean-spirited word, like "fruit", but too preoccupied with simplistic violence to know how to spell itself. "Brute" has the same sort of mouthfeel as "dunce", "thud", "trudge" and "bludgeon", which is appropriate, as these are all brutish concepts. And as for brutes as a concept, well, they're just superb. As villains, their horrible power is mitigated into faint safety by their sheer ineptitude, while as heroes, their ineptitude is mitigated by their horrible power. There's a black comedy to brutes, in the sheer unthinking urgency of their violence, that can also be a potent sort of horror, depending on whether you're the person they're bruting.
Imagine my pleasure, then, to learn that Minecraft, as a sort of chaser to the pint of content that was the 1.16 "nether" update, now features brutes. Arguably it already had them, in the form of the blundering, sausage-nosed Iron Golems, but I feel like they fell too close to "gentle giant" territory to be considered authentically brutish. There is no such argument, however, to be made about the Piglin Brute. It takes the Piglin, a mob that was already a good five or six on the brutometer, and cranks it up to a solid, grunting eight. So, let us consider the Piglin Brute.
In Democratic Socialism Simulator, a turtle will pop up and ask what you want to do about the housing crisis. Fox News will slander you, and the New Pork Times will demand your comment on "the blackface incident". You're the newly elected president of American, see, and it's your job to bring about socialism. Clock's ticking.
Thought it may as well have felt as much at the time Half-Life: Alyx didn't pop out of a vacuum. Released today, Half-Life: Alyx - Final Hours is an interactive multimedia docu-book full early prototypes and concepts, deets on what Valve's been up to for the last decade, and a bespoke make-your-own-headcrab-scream audio tool. You know, the usual behind-the-scenes stuff.
Jumping the gun a bit there, aren't we? F1 2020, Codemaster's latest simulationist race 'em up, has sped off a day earlier than expected. That may be grounds for disqualification, but fortunately this a game, not a car. We'll all just have to settle for playing this year's licensed racer a little early. Oooh, what a nuisance, eh? You've really done it now, Codemasters.
If you've been debating whether to get Persona 4 Golden now it's finally come to PC, then Fanatical's latest flash sale might just be the thing you need to push you over the edge. For the next 24 hours (or until their stock of Steam keys run dry), you can grab Atlus' acclaimed JRPG for 18% off.
Sennheiser have produced some fantastic gaming headsets over the years, including one of my current best gaming headset champions, the GSP 370 Wireless. But alas, Sennheiser's gaming division is no more, as their parent company Demant have now spun it out as a separate company called Epos. The name will continue to live on as Epos | Sennheiser on some of their gaming headsets, but we'll also start seeing a new line of premium Epos-only headsets appearing over the next couple of months as well, the first of which is due to arrive this October.
And to celebrate the occasion, Epos have released the world's most terrifying promotional trailer in which an officially certified future man voluntarily gets his eardrums pierced by a giant pair of gorilla fingers. Let me explain.
By all accounts, changing gender in World Of Warcraf has always been simpler than doing it for real. No appointments, no faff, no convincing Bobby Kotick through two years "lived experience" - just pay Blizzard a small fee and they'd let you rebuild your digital persona from the ground up. With this year's World Of Warcraft: Shadowlands expansion, even that hurdle is getting the boot, as it becomes yet another option under Azeroth's increasingly-talented barbers.
Razer have announced a new, tiddlier version of their popular Deathadder V2 gaming mouse today, appropriately named the Deathadder V2 Mini. Weighing just 62g and costing £40 / $50, this ultralight weight gaming mouse is a whole 20g lighter than the regular Deathadder V2, making it a better fit for those with smaller hands. And to really seal the deal, Razer are also packing in some special anti-slip grips to make sure it never leaves your hand.
Superhot: Mind Control Delete is the standalone follow-up to phenomenal FPS puzzler Superhot. It's been in early access for a while, but if you already own Superhot, you'll get Mind Control Delete for free when it comes out on July 16th.
Mind Control Delete has a lot of cool new enemies that are effectively slight variations on the shimmering silhouettes that chased after you in the original. While I do enjoy the armoured ones that have one single red limb for you to aim at, my favourite is definitely the Gary Rhodes-like spiky boys. Land a bullet on one of these lads and they explode, sending bullets flying in every direction. Wonderful slow-motion chaos. My least favourite, as you've probably guessed from the title of this post, is the dog.
There's a new gameplay trailer out for The Forgotten City, the game that started life as an award-winning Skyrim mod. It's set in a cursed ancient Roman city where if one person sins, everyone dies. It's a Groundhog Day kind of scenario where you have to figure out the city's mysteries in order to break a time loop. In this new preview of one of the game's quests, we get a great look at how far The Forgotten City has come since its Skyrim days, and dare I say it looks better than Skyrim ever could.
Crikey, it's all gotten rather gruesome on the Epic Games store this week. Co-op slaughter-fest Killing Floor 2 makes its debut on the storefront today, heading up this week's free lineup alongside carceral break-out The Escapists 2 and lonely spacefarer Lifeless Planet. You know the drill - these three are free to grab 'til next Thursday, at which point they'll be replaced by fantasy dungeon-crawler Torchlight 2.
The content battlecruiser that is World Of Warcraft has been sailing for the best part of two decades. I’m almost thirty-two. I started playing this game when I was seventeen. It’s surreal to type that out - and it’s also one of the reasons why the people I try to introduce to this behemoth of an experience often tap out.
Thankfully, this may change. With the advent of the Shadowlands expansion, Blizzard has introduced a series of huge changes to how the game functions not only for existing players, but for people who have never touched the game, or even any MMORPG, ever before. Firstly, there’s the “level squish” - 120 becomes 60, and the original 1-60 becomes an accelerated 1-10 - with a brand new levelling region intended for players new to the series and even the genre. “Trying to get to level 120 is a bit much,” comments Production Director Patrick Dawson. He’s not wrong.
Ever since the Night City Wire the other week, CDProjekt Red seem to have opened the dam on Cyberpunk 2077 info. The slow drip-feed of news about their upcoming action RPG, based on the famous TTRPG and set in a futuristic neon dystopia of high-tech body modding and greedy megacorps, has increased, and now we're getting a steady trickle of new art and ray traced screenshots.
Most recently, the official Twitter account twote some new concept art of Westbrook, an area where the disgustingly wealthy (or at least people with a decent line of credit) go to flash the cash. If it's anything like the concept art, Westbrook is going to be awful. But, you know, amazing.
As a frequent virtual tourist in American Truck Simulator, I am delighted to hear that developers SCS Software are adding feature catering to Sunday drivers like me who really want to admire the scenery. No, they're not letting us get out of our cabs and walk around the world, but they are adding little nodes you can visit in certain places to watch a cinematic scene of local highlights. A little tourism video for the town you're passing through. These 'Viewpoints' will debut with the Idaho expansion, so come enjoy this new video showing the small-town charms of McCall, population 2991.
As the sun slowly disappears over the horizon, for just a few seconds it's possible to see the edges of the sun glow green in colour. It's rather aptly named the "green flash", and it's a somewhat rare meteorological phenomenon that can happen during sunset or sunrise when the conditions are just right. Thing is, I didn't actually realise that it was a real thing until I saw it in Sea Of Thieves.
Valve have expanded Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's anti-cheat tech with new restrictions blocking third-party software which interacts with the game. 'Trusted mode' cuts off certain types of cheat, which is good. It also has the side-effect of blocking popular legitimate software including Nvidia Freestyle graphics filters and certain modes in OBS, the video capture & streaming tool. That's it working as intended but also, y'know, a bummer. Some people are reporting performance problems too.
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The Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll on a few games now, causing all sorts of delays on new info and release dates. Not World Of Warcraft: Shadowlands, though, as Blizzard confirmed in last night's live stream that the expansion will be arriving sometime this autumn, "even if they end up shipping from their homes." WoW fans will get to explore that sinister land of the dead to see what old Sylvanas has been up to even sooner however, because they also announced Shadowlands is getting a beta next week.
What is a free-to-play game, truly, without super cool overpriced skins? Valorant, Riot's CS-like tactical shooter, has just revealed its new line of Elderflame gun skins, which turn your weapons into fiery, roaring, wiggly dragons. They're fully animated, swinging around to look at you after you get a kill, and you even reload them by politely handing over ammunition for them to consume. You'll be able to grab the set from Friday - but fair warning, it'll set you back a whopping £100/$100.
Ahead of Ubisoft's big notE3 show this weekend, gameplay footage of Assassin's Creed Valhalla continues to leak. Following the half-hour of gameplay seen earlier this week, now someone's come up with seven minutes of the female Eivor in a boss battle against some sort of "demon goddess". It is, appropriately, well metal.
Light horror fans rejoice, for The Dark Pictures Anthology - Little Hope cometh. The second game in a planned series of eight, this witchy tale is probably best thought of as a very fancy form of interactive fiction.
As expected, it's a self-contained story presented by the vaguely menacing Curator, who challenges the player to decide how each story goes. Your choices and reflexes will ideally keep as many people alive as possible (although there's nothing to stop you from going for the complete corpse set). It's now due out on the 30th of October.
There was a period about two years ago where I'd play a few games of the digital version of Race For The Galaxy every single day after work. It's a very fiddly board game about conquering space by building planets and industrial developments, as represented by your tableau of up to 13 cards. The game ends when that thirteenth card goes down, at which point everyone works out who is the master of space by counting up how many victory points they have. Some board games are dry like that. It's an obstacle.
Recently, I've been playing the upcoming digo-version of Roll For The Galaxy. Race is a classic, and Roll is its funky sequel that spins up some of the same ideas in a way that is very nearly as good. I can see myself playing a lot of it, while also struggling to recommend it to anyone I know.
You have probably not played Ptarmigeddon. I mean, I can promise you upfront it does exist. It was a VR game from 2017, where you played as Wayne Discipline, a CIA agent embedded with Afghan Guerillas during the proxy war against the Soviets in the 80s. As a Russian force advances on the pass he's stationed in, Wayne curses the poor equipment available to his unit, proclaiming "Dammit, I wish we had more army guns" out loud. Unfortunately, his plea is heard by a well-meaning but hearing-impaired haunted rug, which grants what it thought was Wayne's request for "more ptarmigans". Immediately, a vast swarm of the arctic birds descend on the pass, obliterating the Russian troops, before wheeling round towards Wayne's position.
After a year and a half in paid alpha, space sandbox MMO Dual Universe is setting course for a beta launch next month. When the beta begins on August 27th, Dual Universe will be moving from its premium alpha payment to a subscription-based plan. Novaquark say they plan to continue the subscription method when Dual Universe reaches full release.
Wonky war game Totally Accurate Battle Simulator has been plunking around in various states of pre-release for years now. After an open alpha, closed alpha, and early access launch, TABS will finally get what Landfall are calling version 1.0 at the end of 2020. There's plenty of the usual silliness planned before then too, though.
In what must be a huge stroke of luck, some fella called "Ninja" is streaming on YouTube for the first time ever for hundreds of thousands of viewers. "Like, this is my first YouTube stream ever. Ever. Literally ever," Ninja told his viewers as he dropped out of the battle bus for his first Fortnite match of the stream. I know Fortnite's popular and all, but wow what an ego boost.
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