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Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity

Steam Charts: rats, rage, rain, and rending

Against the dying of the charts

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Gamer Network is hiring for a new tabletop site

Write about checkers, or bridge!

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Have You Played… Frostpunk?

The city must survive. Its people, on the other hand...

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It's not hard to figure out The Godbeast's inspirations. An open world full of climbable giant monsters ala Shadow Of The Colossus, with evocatively named duels against villains straight out of Dark Souls, plus the ever-stylish harsh angular look of Killer7. Released last Friday, The Godbeast is the second from mostly-solo developer Jochen Mistiaen. In it, the player roams an abandoned, demon-infested city as a vengeful, motorcycle-riding prince of the night, hunting monsters (and his own kind) with a magical harpoon. See the trailer and a chunk of the game in motion below.

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Y'know that photographic trend of trying to match an old photo by snapping a new pic in the same location? Snapdragon riffs on that, taking a handful of old photos to a wee deserted island where things have changed quite considerably. Scrutinising ruins and landmarks to line up my view and recreate the photos also reminded me of Photobomb, and I'm always happy to remember that delightful dystopian snap 'em up. Snapdragon is a short, colourful, chill, and spooky explore-o-puzzler, and that's it okay go have a look bye.

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RPS used to have a boardgame column and we still regularly get people asking if they can write about tabletop games for us. There will soon be a better location for that kind of work, however. Gamer Network - the corporate overlords of RPS, Eurogamer, GamesIndustry.biz, and more - are launching a tabletop website and YouTube channel. They're now hiring for all sorts of roles and this is your notice that you can apply.

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Feature: Against the dying of the charts

Steam Charts: rats, rage, rain, and rending

Our former John (RPS in peace) has vanished in odd circumstances, last heard claiming he'll be flying through the sky in a big metal snake, so I'm taking over this week. Not even an employee anymore and he's still making work for me.

Join me for a stroll down the hit parade to inspect last week's top-selling games on Steam.

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I skipped over so much of what makes Mordhau great in my Mordhau review. Yes, it's a multiplayer medieval melee where 64 swordboys duke it out in hectic battles, then retire to duel servers for more sophisticated brawling. Yes, there's a cool customisation system. Yes, it's hilarious. But I don't think I properly stressed how silly it all is.

This video of two men running around a battlefield as shirtless boxers does though.

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Feature: The city must survive. Its people, on the other hand...

Have You Played… Frostpunk?

Frostpunk is a very pretty game about trying to build the last city on Earth after an icy global catastrophe. I, like many others, spent about 25% of my time giving orders to build and gather and research, and the other 75% of my time zooming in as far as the camera allowed to watch my miniature hooded citizens trudging through the snow, or clustered morosely about the central generator.

But after a while, I began to pay attention to what the game was actually doing, both to the city's populace and to me, the god-player looking down upon it all. And what I found was rather fascinating. Disturbing, but fascinating.

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There’s so much appeal to just wandering about in games, which is perhaps what first drew me to Roadwarden. The game’s named for the job title of its protagonist, one of the few people who explore the wilderness in its setting. “They deliver messages, assist merchants, burn human corpses, and, if possible, get rid of beasts and highwaymen,” says the opening description. And there’s a demo available now, so you can see if this is the right career path for you.

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Think you’ve had a rough week at work? Spare a thought for the protagonist of recently released point and click game Sumatra: Fate Of Yandi. You wouldn’t want to be in a game where the title ominously promises to spell out your fate, particularly if it's premised on being swept away by a landslide and needing to find your way back home through a jungle with little but your wits and whatever you can find around you. Here’s a trailer, showing off the lovely if inhospitable scenery of the area.

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Dota 2's International 2019 Battle Pass has plenty of issues. As Matt wrote earlier this month, alongside a waterfall of cosmetics and a special mode, the pass will unlock an in-game assistant that seems to give owners an advantage over those who haven’t forked over at least £7.50/$10. But (as reported by The Verge) the pass is paywalling another key feature – the ability to avoid players.

Obviously, you shouldn’t have to pay to access the ability to not group up with abusive players. Valve calls this an “experimental” feature (by many accounts it’s not working well), suggesting that it could be extended out to all players after this test on Battle Pass owners. More surprising, then, is the fact that Dota 2 has been out for six years without the option to not have to play with someone ruining the fun, whether it be throwing games or yelling slurs. And yet, even though how other people act is a huge part of the experience of many online games, giving players the ability to regulate their interactions often seems to be a secondary concern for developers.

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Screenshot Saturday! A day in which we throw prescriptivist definitions of the word “screenshot” out of the window in order to take a peek at what game developers are working on at the mo’. This week: a fight with some sort of whiskered lizard, a mysterious doorway, and some strange birds.

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Development of next year’s entry in the Call Of Duty franchise seems to have gone through a significant shift this week, as reported by Jason Schreier at Kotaku. Apparently, publishers Activision have changed the studios working on the game, moving it from Raven and Sledgehammer to Black Ops developers Treyarch, who will be working to release Black Ops 5 a year earlier than expected.

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Mordhau review

Love cuts deep

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Rise Of Industry review

Cat eggs and brute grease

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Yakuza Kiwami 2 review

Kiryu-chaaaaaaan!

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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for being lazy. Here's the best writing about videogames from the past week. (Although this week is unusually light on vidgams. You're welcome/sorry.)

For Vice (which Waypoint has now regrettably been folded back into, by the way), Elizabeth Ballou delved into the fascinating and sometimes creepy world of Ingress, an augmented reality game about spies and logistics. I love how people get so deeply invested, but the way that tips over into genuine harassment is disturbing. Ballou's article is only about that in part though. It's riveting and you should read it despite the slightly misleading headline.

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What’s better than a real garden, full of flowers and sunshine? A virtual one, obviously. Particularly when it comes to Fujii, a VR game scheduled to release next month, because there’s this happy, leafy bear to keep you company and play some sweet ukulele tunes as you explore about. You can meet them in the trailer below.

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Dungeon-crawling hackathon Conglomerate 451 will be hitting Steam early access next week, opening its maglev doors to a world of grimy concrete and pink neon. Players will be able to hack themselves and the world around them in an attempt to overcome the baddies without sustaining ongoing injuries or agent death, the latter of which will necessitate wheeling out a fresh clone who might have the same face but won’t remember any of the upgrades they received before death. A fitting way of dealing with new recruits, considering the genre. Here’s a trailer showing off some of the fighting and biomodding.

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Smile For Me is a phrase that’s less cheery and innocuous than it sounds. Whether it’s a misguided “just be happy!” response to mental illness or a rando guy approaching women on the street, there are actually very few situations in which telling someone to smile is appropriate or welcome. Bearing this in mind may be helpful when it comes to thinking about Smile For Me, the game, a point and click puzzler where you must enter something called The Habitat and make its residents happy again by fulfilling their many strange requests. Here, this trailer will show you what I mean.

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World Of Warcraft Classic will be throwing players back to the halcyon days of 2004 come August, reverting the MMO back to its original state. But it seems that some have been looking back through rose-coloured glasses, or at least gotten so used to the 15 years of quality of life improvements that they’re confused by some of the game’s original details. As such, Blizzard have released a very lovely list of things to please stop telling them are bugs.

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Feature: Head to your local mass photocopy outlet today!

Priceless Play – 18 May

To this day, one of the most powerful things I've experienced is printing my own zine. Opening the box shipped to my door and seeing the neatly stacked little booklets with my handwriting inside is the sort of pride I imagine is reserved for published authors or narcissists. "Zine," for those not in the know, is short for "magazine," and it's honestly a lifestyle. Typically a zine is a do-it-yourself booklet made via photocopier, with a small circulation and a counter-culture slant. They're purposefully messy, a little (or very) provocative, and imbued with the feelings and power of the people who make them.

Zines are not solely relegated to the power of print, however. The ink-stained fingers of zine-makers weaseled their way into the digital years ago. From vignette-games to zine-software to (of course) the rise of those meddling videogame zinesters, this week's Priceless Play is an ode to the makeshift.

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Feature: WELL!?

What are we playing this weekend?

We have zero Alices in work today, and everything is collapsing. The life force of the RPS treehouse is drifting lazily out of all the windows, like some sort of JRPG miasma. Without the Alices, we're doomed. Something drastic must be done. Perhaps... yes, here it is. Alice O told me only to use this strange device in an emergency. But if this isn't a crisis, I don't know what is. Let me just fiddle with the settings. In the meantime...

What are you playing this weekend? Here's what we're clicking on!

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As someone who has rolled lawns, built decking, knocked down old conservatories and more, I cannot think of few things I'd rather simulate less than the contents of Garden Flipper. Released today, it's the first major expansion for House Flipper, Empyrean's game of cleaning up other people's messes and ordering shedloads of virtual Ikea furniture to conceal interior design sins. As the title might suggest, this one is about all things outdoors. Mow lawns, install garden furniture, plant flowers and generally act like you're part of the Gardener's World B-team. See the trailer below.

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The next big update for space-ninja looty shooter Warframe is just over the horizon. The Jovian Concord, previously known as the Gas City Remaster update, is due out next week, although Digital Extremes are a bit fuzzy on what day exactly. It'll bring a complete story-driven rework to one of the free-to-play shooter's earliest environment types (Corpus gas-mining platforms on Jupiter), a new set of enemies, a big honkin' flying monster boss (above) and a new Warframe. Below, trailers looking at the overhauled industrial zones and a peek at the new Warframe's powers.

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I've seen a lot of dialogue systems in games. Some with dice-rolls, some with obscure glyphs, but none quite like Signs Of The Sojourner, which transforms conversation into a deck-building puzzle. Just announced by Echodog Games and aiming to release later this year, they've just released a playable alpha demo, available via their Discord channel to gather feedback. It's a story about leaving home in the wake of a parent's death, travelling, discovering delicious foods and trying to come away from every conversation with knowledge of how to talk to others better.

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Unsurprisingly, but no less frustrating for it, Riot Games (League Of Legends) management aren't backing down from their stance on forced arbitration. This company policy is preventing two current employees from suing over gender discrimination, and the primary reason for the recent staff walkout. They have, at least, said they'd end forced arbitration for new and future staff, but according to a public statement released last night, that's as far as they'll budge. They did declare - in cheerfully bland corporate language - that they are setting up a "Diversity & Inclusion Rioters Council", an internal forum where staff can air their grievances, plus a road-map for diversity improvements, which you can see below.

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Lovely as Metro Exodus was, the extremely Russian post-apocalyptic FPS came (optionally) bundled with a sealed mystery vault of goodies in its season pass. Now, 4A games have finally revealed what's in the box, and it thankfully doesn't sound too painful. There are two expansions on the way, the first offering a more classic linear Metro story, and the second adding another open-world sandbox zone to explore, and both put you in the shoes of new characters. The first expansion - The Two Colonels - is out this summer, and the second - Sam's Story - launches in early 2020. Below, details and possible spoilers if you've not finished the main game.

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Feature: Cheap games, graphics cards, monitors and more

Best PC gaming deals of the week – 17th May 2019

Man alive, it's a good time for some epic deals, eh? After last week's mega haul, I didn't think anything could possibly top it this week, but oh how your deals herald has been proved wrong. For not only are Epic slashing dozens of prices on new and unreleased games until June 13, but Green Man Gaming are also celebrating their birthday this month with a bunch more deals, while Fanatical have gone a bit loopy with their May Madness sale. And that's before we get to all the graphics card deals and other miscellaneous hardware bargains going on. So, if you've been hankering for some cheap Monster Hunter: World, Resident Evil 2, Surviving Mars, anything made by Raw Fury, or GTA V action, read on. Your deals herald will provide.

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Welcome back to Spawn Point, where we take something wonderful from the world of gaming and explain what it is, why it’s worth your time and how to get involved. This time, we look at “Spectacle Fighters”, or “Character Action Games” if you like your genre names vague and uselessly ambiguous.

What’s so spectacular about these fighters, then? It’s Spectacle Fighters, a genre of mostly third-person action games that focuses on the visual spectacle of combat above all else. These are games designed to make you both feel and look like a badass through a huge range of freedom in combat options. They also tend to rate your performance with a score, rank or grade of some kind, usually from D through to S.

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Feature: Listen now and make some pals

Podcast: The strongest friendships in games

You’re a good person, reader, and I will always believe in you, no matter what. No, not you. The person behind you. No, to the left of... No, the other person. The one in the green-- No, you, with the... NO. The person BEHIND you, I said. The person with-- Oh great they’ve walked off now. This whole thing has been a waste of time. My only friend among you is gone because we’re several sentences into this intro and none of you can understand how pointing works. I hope you’re all happy. Here’s your god damned podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show.

Honestly.

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Feature: But don't try to export it

The Flare Path: RTFM

Just as real aircraft are a lot more dangerous than sim ones, real aircraft documentation can imperil its owners in ways the sim variety can't. This week it emerged Oleg Tishchenko, a 42-year-old avionics expert at Eagle Dynamics in Moscow, has been extradited to the US from Georgia to face multiple charges connected with the procurement, smuggling and reselling of manuals for recent and current USAF fighters. Tishchenko claims he sourced the manuals to aid him in his development work. Eagle Dynamics has denied all involvement insisting “its employee acted in a purely private context and for his own personal interests.”

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My days by the Hearthstone are mostly long behind me, but every now and then I get lured back by something shiny. That's happened with The Dalaran Heist, a Solo Adventure released yesterday as part of the Rise Of Shadows expansion. It's about beating up gnomes and beleaguered zombie bureaucrats in an attempt to steal the floating city of Dalaran, and the first chunk is free.

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Feature: Plane sailing

Have You Played… the Just Cause 2 multiplayer mod?

When Graham asked if you'd played Just Cause 2, he (correctly) spent most of his time praising the extent of its wanton destruction. Then he claimed that the multiplayer mod "lets you wreak the same havoc – and much more – in huge multiplayer servers." I don't think he realises how right he was.

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Ubisoft's open world winter sports sandbox (snowbox?) Steep is the publisher's latest giveaway. Available to snag and keep forever between now and Tuesday, May 21st, it features skiing, snowboarding, wingsuit diving and paragliding - four fun ways to hurl yourself down a mountain without dying. While sadly not coming with its copious collection of DLC, it is, per Ubisoft standard, still more than enough to get your teeth into, and there's the options to expand it further if you want to stick around on the slopes. Grab it here, free, and keep it forever.

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