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Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity

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Squidgy first-person farm 'em up Slime Rancher is one size bigger and goopier today. Developers Monomi Park have released two bits of DLC, one of them big, challenging and free, and the other one small, entirely cosmetic and paid. Viktor's Experimental Update is the free expansion, taking players into a world of slime simulation. Slimeulation, even. It's infested with glitchy, fragmented slimes that you can collect, convert into bug reports and cash in for a stack of new rewards, including some new gadgets. Below, a look at this blankly smiling virtual world within a virtual world.

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Because subtlety is overrated and ammo is cheap in the post-apocalypse (so say Ubisoft), players can lug around their own rotary-barrelled bullet hose in The Division 2 now. Available immediately for Year One Pass owners or after completing a series of in-game challenges for everyone else, the Gunner is the latest Specialisation; a prestige class you pick once you hit the level cap. While defined by their weapon, the ammo will eventually run dry, but Gunners can also fall back to a bag of high-tech tricks. Below, a trailer for the new class and today's patch notes abridged.

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Zach-like, the book about Zachlikes by Zach Barth, creator of the genre, is now free albeit notably less papery now. Zachtronics's previously Kickstarter-exclusive book was a collection of design documents from the creator of Spacechem, Opus Magnum, Infinifactory and many more, showing just how he engineers his puzzles. Now anyone can read a digital version for free, and it comes bundled with a pile of his early browser games, unreleased prototypes, and even a card game if you've got printer ink to burn. Grab it free on Steam. I feel smarter just having it on my PC.

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Feature: Does a robot even know what it means to jump?

Premature Evaluation: Levelhead

Shigeru Miyamoto is one of the few bona fide, mega-brain geniuses working in games. Inspired by the time he watched a plumber die of a concussion near a tortoise, the Nintendo luminary invented Mario in his toolshed in Kyoto, using nothing more than a couple of AAA batteries and a soldering iron.

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Update: Though Tripwire said the "extra-long Free Weekend on Steam" was "starting later today", it seems not to have started yet. So. Mysteries.

Tripwire Interactive really, really want you to check out Killing Floor 2's new Back & Kickin' Brass update it seems, as they're letting players have a crack at the undead re-deadening co-op shooter for zero money on Steam until next Tuesday at 6pm UK time. The update brings a new game mode, some new weapons, and a new steampunk-inspired level to do violence at things inside of. Crank your mechanical eye-holes towards the trailer below:

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Feature: TN vs IPS vs VA and everything else you need to know about your monitor's panel technology

Gaming monitor panel types explained

Your gaming monitor is one of the most important parts of your PC, and a big part of that is down to the type of panel it uses to display all those lovely polygons. You've probably seen lots of different monitor panel types crop up in a gaming screen's specs sheet, too: words like TN, IPS and VA. But what do they actually mean, and how do they affect the quality of your gaming monitor? Well, as you've probably guessed from the title up top there, I'm going to tell you everything you need to know about all the different gaming monitor panel types, including their strengths, weaknesses and which one you should look to buy if you want the best possible image quality.

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Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night, the crowdfunded return of Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night director Koji Igarashi, is out now. Produced by his new studio, ArtPlay, it's a series successor in all but name. There might be a shortage of Belmonts or Draculas, but there's a big gothic castle to explore, bosses to clobber, and a bundle of RPG elements to pad out the platform exploration and brawling. Below, a very tongue-in-cheek launch trailer, featuring Igarashi hamming it up in front of the camera again, daft character customisation, and free DLC plans.

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Feature: Quit murderin' for a second, Joey, willya!?

Empire Of Sin is full of serial killers and drunks who need a good mobster manager

Ronnie O’Neill is a scumbag. But that’s okay. In about 20 minutes he’ll be dead, slumped on the tarmac next to a black truck. That’s what happens when you mess with Al Capone, you filthy mutt. At least, this is one way things can go in upcoming mob strategy game Empire Of Sin. It’s part mobster management, part turn-based tactics, with a splash of the personality-driven pettiness of Crusader Kings 2. Which probably explains why Paradox are publishing it for Romero Games.

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Feature: Watch that mine, Mr Wolf

Ghost Recon: Breakpoint made me want to watch Tom Clancy cutscenes

Let me level with you: Ghost Recon: Breakpoint was mostly on my E3 schedule out of obligation. It’s the next big shooty Ubisoft game with all the military folk, sequel to the previous big shooty Ubisoft game with all the military folk. But now we're in the future, and it's got that bloke who plays the Punisher in it.

Point being, I wasn't expecting much from the Ghost Recon: Wildlands followup. After creeping my way through an hour at E3, though, I'm keen to creep through some more.

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Gigabuster is a shooty splosion-filled sidescroller inspired by Megamen both X and Zero that pits you and a pair of big boots against the faces of corporate CEOs. Best of all, you don't even have to listen to a CEO talk about it awkwardly for thirty minutes, because there's a demo available right now. Stick on some spandex and somersault yourself in front of the trailer below:

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Feature: Endangering species

You play a panda with a minigun in Contra: Rogue Corps

The fight to become the best panda in videogames is the smallest, fluffiest battle royale. Until last week, there were two serious contenders. The Just Dance panda was the bookies favourite, for clear reasons. And the panda who became last year’s Tekken World Champion is the other (don’t @ me). But now we have a third competitor.

Contra: Rogue Corps is a new twin-stick co-op shooter from Konami. Up to four players go blasting aliens amid the ruins of a place called the Damned City. This would not normally excite me. The old Contra games are ancient and difficult. The twin-stick shooter is one of my least favourite genres. But there is one thing I can appreciate about this new shmup. It features a panda with a minigun.

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You would think that, when a noodle-armed cat and a ghostly chicken sit down with some furry demon friends, they wouldn't need the convenient narrative framing of a D&D game to get themselves caught up in some pirate adventures. Still, that's the set-up in Chook & Sosig: Walk The Plank, a hand-drawn adventure game from Tookipalooki. Steer your bilge-rat fancying eyes to the trailer below, me hearty bowl of stew:

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Dismemberment. We've all done it, but Lucasfilm have reportedly forbade the Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order developers from letting players chop off limbs too jediciously. In the trailers, gameplay footage and behind closed doors demo we've seen so far, all limbs have remained attached. The internet is aghast, even though developers Respawn Entertainment have stated that limb removal will be reserved for critical plot moments.

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Throughout my chat with Modern Storyteller's managing director Nick Pearce about his upcoming game The Forgotten City, there are two things conspicuously absent from our conversation: "Bethesda", and "Skyrim". Ever since Pearce announced he was re-imagining his popular time-looping murder mystery mod into a proper game last year, Bethesda has become the publisher that shall not be named. Not in a properly evil, Voldemort kind of way, thankfully, but having to cut ties with the game that helped Pearce make his name (not to mention win him an Australian Writers Guild Award) has still made its journey to release a bit of a tricky one.

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I've always wanted to play Duck Season. I've heard it described as the Pony Island of virtual reality - a cute VR Duck Hunt clone that unfurls into something far more sinister. Unfortunately, due to my lack of future-tech headgear I've not had the chance to play it. Duck Season PC is a version of the game re-worked by Stress Level Zero for the mouse and keyboard crowd, and it launched today. While I can't see it being quite as intense a ride stripped of some of its more immersive elements, I'm still glad to see this version out, and at budget price. See the launch trailer below.

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Despite recent reports of the game's catastrophic demise, a "janky" demo of post-cyberpocalyptic goof-em-up Barkley 2 has been released to Kickstarter backers after six and a half years of waiting. Whether anything else comes of the project now that most of Tales Of Game's has absconded is up to the fates to decide, but the reality is that people are playing Barkley 2 right now. Below, a couple hours of this bizarre, frequently very funny action RPG streamed early today by "mdct" on Twitch. Check it out, or the Joke's on you.

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Ark: Survival Evolved is nearly as popular now as it was at launch, so it's no great surprise that Studio Wildcard's Dino Riders-ish survival sandbox is still being supported. What is a pleasant surprise is that the new Valguero expansion will be completely free of charge, and released tomorrow. It won't require any existing DLC, and will include one new dinosaur to hunt or befriend; the agile and feathery Deinonychus, seen tussling with a Tyrannosaurus above. Below, a trailer taking us on a scenic tour of the multi-layered, 63 square kilometre new environment.

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I'm Not A Monster never quite drew the crowds I thought it deserved, despite being a clever mash-up of retro pulp sci-fi, parlour game Werewolf and XCOM-style tactics. I'd hazard a guess that the game only offering a bare-bones solo mode against bots to train up for multiplayer was part of what did it in. Thankfully, developers Cheerdealers aren't quite willing to throw in the towel, and have just announced First Contact, a story-heavy solo campaign mode. It's due to launch later this year, with sign-ups open now for a beta test starting next month. Below, a short teaser trailer.

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After six years of getting sidetracked by other projects, Edmund McMillen (The Binding Of Isaac, Super Meat Boy) and pals confirmed via Twitter that Mew-genics is in development once more. It appears that the game of ethically questionable cat breeding has changed a bit since we last saw it, with a new focus on combat and exploration built on a foundation of splicing feline DNA. Programmer Tyler Glaiel has spent the past few weeks tweeting out clips of the game as it is now, featuring what looks like real-time tactical cat-versus-mouse squad combat. Take a peek below.

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Ever since Nvidia introduced G-Sync in 2013, the only way to take advantage of their super smooth, variable refresh rate tech was to buy a dedicated (and rather expensive) Nvidia G-Sync gaming monitor. Now, however, Nvidia have introduced their G-Sync Compatible standard so that Nvidia graphics card owners with cheaper AMD FreeSync monitors can still get a cut-down version of G-Sync without having to upgrade their gaming screen and fork out for the dreaded G-Sync tax.

While all FreeSync screens are technically G-Sync compatible (with a small 'c'), Nvidia also have their own list of official G-Sync Compatible monitors (with a big 'C'). These provide the very best G-Sync Compatible monitor experience, and have all been tested and verified by Nvidia themselves. So here's a complete list of every G-Sync Compatible screen they've confirmed so far, as well as how to enable G-Sync on any FreeSync monitor so you can try it out for yourself.

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"There's a few things I hope to accomplish here," said Cameron G, a Sydney-based graphic designer behind the fundraiser to buy an advert on the billboard outside the Guilford office of Hello Games. "I want Hello Games to feel appreciated for their dedication and achievement with No Man's Sky. I want to raise money to donate to the Sydney Children's Hospital. I want to show all the big developers out there what a good developer, a good game and healthy community look like."

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After launching Fallout 76's new battle royale mode into a short testing phase during the E3 hubbub, Bethesda have now said they're extending that. Originally due to end today, the "pre-beta sneak peek" of Nuclear Winter will now run indefinitely, receiving updates along the way. Which sounds like a soft launch to me. Particularly given that battle royale is an FPS genre rooted in early access, so players are more tolerant of jank, I wouldn't be too surprised if they kept it playable up until the eventual full launch later this summer.

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When Sam Barlow released murder mystery game Her Story in 2015, he probably didn’t expect to get a two-page spread in Le Monde about this three-hour FMV game. Her Story worked because it was simple. You had a fictional desktop and a search engine that would bring up videos of an ongoing police interview. When you typed in “dead” or “argument”, you’d get a video of the main character, Hannah, answering the questions of an unseen detective, with those keywords somewhere in the testimony. A search bar ‘em up.

This year we’re getting a follow-up called Telling Lies. It’s not a sequel, but the same idea: a search bar and a bank of videos. It’s not clear what the big lies of the title are, but we can clear up another mysery right now. Why has it taken Barlow this long to come back to a formula that was so obviously good?

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Feature: Everyone Is Awful

Steam Charts: The Worst Week Ever Edition

I'm declaring it: this is the Worst Week Ever for Steam Charts. And let's face it - this is entirely your fault. If you were a better person, you'd buy better games. But instead you buy the same eight bloody games every bloody week, and then buy a game that isn't even out for over a year. A YEAR! You are awful, and you do not deserve me. This is your punishment.

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After a hectic week of both E3 and moving into a new flat, floating through the ruins of human civilisation in The Things We Lost In The Flood has been just the ticket. Paddling over bridges and through trees and under hanging corpses, listening to the rain, grooving to the melancholy music, reading messages in bottles left by other players, and writing my own missives... it's nice. Quiet, slow, and occasionally dangerous. That's the post-E3 mood.

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Feature: How can you even bite someone's teeth off?

Dwarf Fortress Diary: The Basement Of Curiosity Episode Fifteen – A Miner Inconvenience

Last Time on the BoC: The dwarves partied through a siege. The tantruming Udil claimed her first life, before starting an apocalyptic pub fight. The underground was revealed, in all its dank glory.

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One of the great lost adventure game treasures of the 90s, Westwood's Blade Runner, is a little more found now that ScummVM is adding support to play it easily on modern systems. The 1997 adventure game from the Command & Conquer studio, which runs parallel to the movie Blade Runner, has been unplayable-ish for many years. It was the very last CD game I held onto, until I discovered even with fixes it'd crash at the end of the first act. Well! Here comes ScummVM support, almost ready to let us slam in the data files and go. Now all we need is a downloadable re-release, eh GOG? Steam? Eh?

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Good lord, I need an E3 antidote. Fortunately I'm batting my jet-lagged eyes at Chicken Police, an upcoming noir detective adventure with grizzled chickens and a very good raccoon. It's a point and clicker, which means I'll almost certainly never play it. But I'd still like you to revel in this trailer with me. It's a cinematographic masterpiece.

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Feature: A trip worth waiting for

Disguises and slow-mo combat have me itching to visit The Outer Worlds

I've just seen a game that reminds me of Deus Ex. It's set in a dystopia where corporations call the shots, and you can approach situations how you see fit. Guards can be persuaded, tricked, intimated or shot. Robots can be hacked. Sewers can be snuck through, if you can first lockpick the entrance.

There are no punks in sight. I'm talking about The Outer Worlds, a first person sci-fi RPG from Obsidian Entertainment. I only got a hands off peek at E3, and one carefully curated slice might not represent the whole cake. But gosh, that slice looked delicious.

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