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Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity

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Feature: License to illager

Hands-on preview: Minecraft Dungeons is an unexpected treasure

When Minecraft Dungeons was first announced, I thought it was a bit of an odd call. Dungeon crawlers are popular, and Minecraft is popular, but… a Minecraft dungeon crawler? Surely, I figured, a switch to isometric dungeoneering would lose all of Minecraft’s creative, construction-toy charm in translation, and I just couldn’t see Minecraft’s gently strange, cuboid world as an intuitive setting for a Diablolike lootstabber. It all seemed a bit of a mismatch, like making an arcade fighting game based on Frasier, or an RTS about the Teletubbies.

But, as you’ve probably now had time to process, both of those ideas are completely amazing. And so, to my surprise and delight, is Minecraft Dungeons. I’ve had a good play with the beta build ahead of its postponed launch on May 26th, and what I’ve found is an extremely slick, extremely pretty dopamine delivery system, that somehow strings together the best of two seemingly disparate worlds.

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Google have now made their cloud gaming service, Stadia, completely free to anyone who has a Gmail account. That means you no longer have to buy their pricey Premiere Edition to get started, all you have to do is sign up online.

On top of that, to help keep people entertained in isolation they've made their premium subscription service, Stadia Pro, free for two months. It's basically a free trial that gives you full access to nine games, which sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

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If you haven't played 2013's Receiver, you've missed out on some of the best shoots in videogames. It's an FPS roguelike where you roam about on rooftops, fending off turrets and drones with a gun that needs more attention than a two-year old. There are separate buttons to slide in individual bullets, fiddle with safeties, and do that primey thing where you slide the top back. I've got no interest in real-life firearms, but panicking about this stuff in the middle of a shootout is great.

Developers Wolfire games have just revealed Receiver 2 is coming out on April 14th, and will let me do all of this again with fiddlier and prettier weapons. I'm going to have so much gun.

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EGX confirmed for September 17-20th in London

EGX, the London games show run by our corporate siblings, has announced dates of September 17-20th for this year's show. It's due to return to the ExCeL London in the Docklands. EGX is the boisterous big brother of EGX Rezzed, the more PC-y and indie-ish games show held at London's Tobacco Dock. I know, the names get confusing. Tickets are not yet on sale.

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Hearthstone has already nerfed Demon Hunters

Illidan Stormrage should have learned that drinking from the skull of Gul'dan riles up the whole world of Warcraft and makes them regret releasing him from wizard jail, but now he's done it again in Hearthstone. The Demon Hunter class arrived Tuesday in Blizzard's card game, the first new playable class since launch six years ago, and already they've needed to hastily nerf him. Yes, of course Skull of Gul'Dan is one of the cards that's got him in trouble. Illidan, buddy, come on, you've got to break this cycle.

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Feature: Hair today, gone tomorrow

Recreate doomed romance in The Sims 4 with these custom Life Is Strange hairdos

It's been a few weeks since I surprised and delighted you with some custom content of the week for The Sims 4. Typically, I also avoid showcasing CC for Create A Sim (or CAS). It's the part of the game I'm less interested in (I don't think that, to date, I have actually played the Sims - I just build houses, m8), and therefore the part I don't download a lot of CC for.

But this week, I was tooling around on The Sims 4 subreddits, as one does, and saw a few posts about some Life Is Strange character hair. And darn it if it wasn't really good Life Is Strange Character Hair!

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CD Projekt Red's tech dystopia FPS Cyberpunk 2077 is expected out later this year. Ye olde marketing machine seems to be getting its gears turning again and CDPR have today posted about one of the gangs that you'll find in Night City. The Mox are a group that CDPR say "protect working girls and guys from violence and abuse," specifically sex workers like their in-game inspiration Elizabeth Borden.

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I've found myself oddly envious of pigeons lately, watching them strut around without a care, and I feel fully vindicated after becoming a pigeon myself in GTA Online. For funsies, Rockstar have re-enabled the peyote plants which let players transform into random animals, from dogs and deer to pigs and pigeons. My favourite so far is becoming a cougar, burly enough to bowl pedestrians over without even attacking, though the stingray had a nice 'nature documentary' vibe rippling around beneath the waves.

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Here we go again, Twitch are attempting to clarify their oft-confusing Nudity And Attire Policy which they've historically struggled to apply consistently. This time around, Twitch are spelling out which body parts are considered too naughty for streaming instead of attempting to regulate based on types of clothing. That does seem like an improvement. "Cleavage is unrestricted," in case you were wondering, but pelvic areas are still a no-no.

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Earlier this week the social medias went wild over pictures of Justin Bieber's giant plastic mansion-hole. People were saying it looked like the Marvel Avengers HQ. This is the most incorrect thing I have ever heard. It clearly looks like something you'd see made out of empty Müller Corners and Fairy Liquid bottles on three successive episodes of Blue Peter.

Look at it. That's the long lens shot of it everyone is rinsing, in the header there. You can just imagine painting that circular bit on the left in white acrylic paint, and your mum putting it on the shelf with all the spaghetti so it would dry, except you couldn't be that patient so you started painting it silver too soon and that bit ended up being streaky compared to the rest. Anyway, turns out I'm also wrong and that what it actually is, is a base building from a 90s PC game.

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Hello Games are of course the folks behind giant space sandbox No Man's Sky, so their next game, The Last Campfire, came as quite a surprise when it was announced in 2018. It's a much smaller game, not nearly an entire universe, about a little traveler named Ember. Hello have now shared a new video to tell us more about the adventure puzzler that's due out this summer.

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I've not played Minecraft heavily in several years now, so when I logged in recently I was surprised by some new tunes as I walked about pestering livestock. There are even more new tracks coming in the sandbox game's big Nether Update, this time created by composer Lena Raine whose excellent sounds you may have heard in Celeste. You can check these tunes out now in the newest Minecraft test version snapshot.

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I am in terrible danger. The last time I wrote substantially about the zombie survival sim Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead, I described it as "a roguelike you could play for the rest of your life". That was over three years ago, and it's been expanded slowly but constantly since then.

Its latest big update came out last week, and already threatens to consume every hour of my days. Now is a perfect time to give it a try, even if you, like me, find zombies boring and dislike roguelikes. It's that good.

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Remember three years months ago when we were all really into building tiny houses in The Sims 4? This is like that but with Legos little colorful brick toys. A new browser game challenges you to build a thing every day with just 20 bricks, which sounds like a challenge and is even more so when you actually attempt it. Look at my little fountain. I'd have liked it to be symmetrical and all but this is as good as I could do in 20 bricks so here you have it.

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You know what Borderlands 3 was missing? A minigame that lets you sort through DNA samples from human poop. If that doesn't sound particularly appealing, you should know that it's all for a good real-life cause. Borderlands Science is a new arcade game you can find in-game, and it's created by scientists who need your help with their research into all the microbes hanging out in your gut - and playing it rewards you with some brand new skins and heads.

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Feature: Band of bothers

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord (early access) review

The best thing I can say about this, the most eagerly awaited medieval ARPG of all time, is that I want to keep playing it. I have played exactly four million games, a number which is only possible when you learn to drop something you're playing without hesitation. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, for all its teething problems, will probably be brilliant when it's finished.

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Apex Legends' Old Ways event has begun, bringing with it Bloodhound's Town Takeover on the World's Edge map, as well as the addition of a permanent map rotation and duos. This will be good news to a lot of Apex fans who like dropping into a match with a trusty partner, but unfortunately it's bad news to those who were hoping for a solos mode. It's even worse news for you lone wolves actually, as Respawn said that solos "negatively impacted the game, especially when it came to new player retention" when they tried it out as a limited-time game mode.

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The organisers of E3 are not planning to host an official online replacement this year after all, though I don't think that will be much of a problem. When the Entertainment Software Association announced E3 2020's cancellation in March, due to the ongoing sitch, they did say they were considering arranging an "online experience" to fill in with announcements and that. Well, now they've confirmed that they decided not to. They've also this week reportedly confirmed dates for the E3 2021, when they do plan to return to sweaty meatspace.

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War never changes, but the number of people who are allowed to participate occasionally increases. Call Of Duty: Warzone is upping squad sizes to four. You can still queue separately for the version with three, if you like, and new weapons and modes are planned for later on.

This is part of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare's Season 3, which means that we've also got a couple new guns, three new regular multiplayer maps, and a truckload of cosmetic nonsense attached to the new battle pass.

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Feature: Or a cheeky Kabaddi ripoff

Doom Eternal’s multiplayer is a splendid game of cats and demonic mice

Doom Eternal doesn't have a Deathmatch mode. The multiplayer not a place where marines chase other marines: it's a place where one character gets to be the Slayer from the singleplayer, and two other players gang up on them as chunky demons. The idea was to capture the same feeling as the campaign, and yep, that it does. Grappling up to a jetpack monster is all the sweeter when there's a human lurking behind that demon's eyes.

What I like best about it, though, are the moments where you flip from fleeing to eviscerating.

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Sea Of Thieves' Ships Of Fortune update is just around the corner, inviting players to join up with their favourite trading companies to earn loads of extra gold and reputation. For the more "traditional pirates" amongst us, a brand new trader has emerged that I think you're going to like - The Reaper's Bones. These are the evil-looking folks that have been hanging out on Reaper's Hideout, and joining up with them will task you with robbing your rival sailors for all they're worth.

But that's not even the best bit! Get out of the way parrots and monkeys, because when the update drops on April 22nd we'll finally be able to have cats as pets!

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The Xbox controller long ago became the de facto standard for playing PC games with a pad, but Sony's DualShock 4 also got PC support a long time ago via Steam or a piece of software called DS4Windows. The DS4 a fine controller and I've used it every so often on PC, particularly when dabbling with PlayStation Now, Sony's remote play service on PC.

Sony have today released the first images and information about the "DualSense", the new controller that will ship with the PlayStation 5. There's no confirmation yet but the assumption is that it will follow its predecessor by working on PC as well. So: would you give up your Xbox controller for Sony's latest?

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Obsidian Entertainment tonight announced an early access launch date of July 28th for Grounded, their craft-o-survival game about teenagers shrunk down smaller than ants and turned loose in a back garden. If I've learned anything from the oeuvre of Rick Moranis, is that those kids are in for a tough time. It's a surprising game to see coming from a studio known for RPGs including The Outer Worlds, South Park: The Stick Of Truth, and Pillars Of Eternity, but who are you to pigeonhole them? While we've mostly heard about the four-player co-op so far, tonight's new look focused on the singleplayer side. Observe!

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There are currently 1.7 million people watching Valorant on Twitch, which means it's matched the game streaming platform's all-time record for the number of people watching a single game at the same time. That's not bad when you consider the previous record holder was Fortnite, a global phenomenon, and Valorant has only just entered closed beta. Maybe people are watching because they're excited for a new game from the makers of League Of Legends, or because they're excited for a first-person shooter following in Counter-Strike's footsteps. Or maybe it's because watching Twitch streams is how you get a key to enter the beta.

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The Steamlords at Valve have rummaged in their reams of data and emerged with a new blog post talking about what the growth of Steam (and the number of games on Steam) has meant for developers. Coming up with a questionable definition of "success", they note that Steam in 2019 saw three times as many games earning $10,000 in their first fortnight compared to Steam in 2013. They went on to estimate that if they had kept Steam's catalogue curated and tightly controlled, a whole lot of games they consider successes wouldn't have even been released on Steam. So, that's good? Also, obvious?

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Feature: Build a better roomba

Premature Evaluation: Good Company

Ah, industry. You gotta love it. Men with twirly moustaches posing in front of giant chains. Women standing next to teetering piles of code used to send astronauts to the moon. Countless ghosts of mangled Victorian children haunting the greased cogs of matchbox factories. Elon Musk riding atop a tiny submarine like a cowboy to the bottom of the Mariana Trench to rescue his frisbee. Humanity is at its very best when it’s building, designing and producing the vast quantities of plastic garbage demanded by the growling and insatiable stomach of our sexy benefactor and god, global capitalism.

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Hearthstone's new Ashes Of Outland expansion is out this evening, and having spent a couple of days last week playing with the new card set, I can confirm it's really, really fun. Completely ridiculous, as is increasingly the case with Hearthstone, but undoubtedly a solid expansion - and in my opinion at least, more fun than any of last year's three.

Obviously, the headline addition to Ashes is the new Demon Hunter class, and its angsty purple frontman Illidan. To get the measure of Hearthstone's first new playable class since its launch in 2014, I asked Blizz if they could sort me out with a preview build of the new expansion, and they responded by creating a personal hell for me: a server with room for only two people, where I would be magically imprisoned, like Illidan himself, until I had learned the secrets of the big purple man. The games that followed would involve an awful lot of magical green fire, plus a swarm of albatrosses and more than a few self-replicating tyrannosaurs.

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