Now Ubi’s opened the door, can we have our “Skip Boss Fight” button?

Ubisoft made a fascinating announcement this week. They revealed that the latest Assassin’s Creed [official site] is to add a “Discovery Tour” mode, removing all the combat and challenges from the game, to let players just freely experience their in-depth recreation of Ancient Egypt. It’s fascinating, to me, because it’s a big deal. And goodness me, it shouldn’t be a big deal. Because games should be delighted to include modes that remove all their difficulty and challenge, and players should cheer when they hear about it.

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Fight’N Rage may just be the best brawler ever made

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Brawlers are a misunderstood breed. The descendants of Final Fight and Streets of Rage are easy to dismiss as unfair products of another era, where they stood in arcade cabinets and where seemingly designed to drain your wallet by forcing countless retries against random attack patterns in order to get that one lucky break. But for those willing to learn their intricacies, punch ’em ups can be seen as part of a precise and demanding genre where victory is always possible despite the odds.

While there have been attempts at revival such as Castle Crashers or Mother Russia Bleeds, those offer more style than substance. I dove into recent Steam release Fight’N Rage [Steam page] (debut title from solo Uruguayan indie Seba Games Dev) with some trepidation, but came out the other side overjoyed. Faithful fans of fisticuffs, this may well be the best brawler I’ve ever played, and I’ve played them all.

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Have You Played… HeroQuest?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

My dad adored D&D and its ilk, but never – to my knowledge – had anyone else to play it with. He devoured the Fighting Fantasy books, he played anything SSI released onto ST or PC, and every now and then he’d try to draw his kids into that world, however tangentially. One such attempt was HeroQuest, the table-top game that made the whole genre incredibly accessible. Meaning when it came out for PC, it was very exciting to me. Read the rest of this entry »

Steam Charts: Your Reason To Go On

Some have doubted the power of the Steam Charts to change people’s lives. Those people are dead now. Belief in Steam Charts, RPS’s greatest, longest-running, and most industry-revered column, is literally the only thing keeping you alive right now. Don’t be a dead one. Love us. LOVE US. Read the rest of this entry »

The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for sleeping through the night. Maybe? Hopefully? Finally? Please? I guess the day can still be about reading about videogames.

At PC Gamer, Alex Wiltshire – a frequent contributor round these parts – wrote about the psychology of loot boxes. There’s lots of good detail in here about the specific ways Blizzard design their loot boxes in Hearthstone and Overwatch. Personally, I like games with loot boxes you need to shoot with a gun to open. Also! This article includes my favourite pigeon anecdote. Read the rest of this entry »

20 years ago today, Fallout set the world on fire

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The world ended on September, 30 1997. Or, rather, that was the day we were first shown what would become gaming’s enduring definition of the end of the world. Interplay’s Fallout, a very different game from Bethesda’s Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 (not that this seems to bother anyone; no sirree, not a soul), was and is a landmark roleplaying game. It disrupted ideas that RPGs meant elves and kobolds; it disrupted ideas that RPGs were a straight march to the finish line; it disrupted ideas that RPG heroes should be heroic.

War never changes, but Fallout changed most everything else.

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What are we all playing this weekend?

Welcome to Saturday, gang. We did it. We’ve reached the weekend. More than that, we’ve reached the end of September. If these distinctions are arbitrary, why are they so exciting?

Alternatively, if you’re reading this on Sunday: pinch and a punch for the first of the month – and no returns!

What are you playing this weekend? Here’s what we’re clicking on. Read the rest of this entry »

Unknown Pleasures: the best new little-known Steam games this week

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Welcome back to Unknown Pleasures, our weekly round-up of the most excellent hidden gems we dug up from the past week of new releases on Steam.

This week: endless runners remixed, spaceship life simulation and Dark Souls vs Ico.
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Cheap Golf is daft, quite fun, and knows your name is Susan

Cheap Golf [Twitter page, apparently] was one of the first projects to try out Kickstarter’s week-long fundraisers, a silly scratchy project from Pixeljam offering a minimalist minigolf game, with extra nonsense.

It came out this week (in early access), having previously raised its $9,000 goal via a splendid figure of 666 backers, and it’s – well, it’s as silly as it looked. And quite fun. Read the rest of this entry »

‘You will lose both hands’ – How the biggest theft in EVE Online history ended in death threats

With warm regards

It seems every time sci-fi MMO EVE Online [official site] is in the news, it’s because someone has been screwed over in the most spectacular way imaginable. From record-breaking heists and scams to public assassinations and spy infiltrations, New Eden has been home to some incredible tales of espionage, theft, and political intrigue. This month another chapter in EVE’s long and bloody history came to an abrupt end as two players conspired to pull off the biggest political betrayal and theft of assets in the game’s history.

But the real story began over a year earlier, with clandestine discussions between a thief and his spymaster at a restaurant in the capital of Iceland, and it finishes far outside the game world, with threats of real life violence. Depending on who you ask, this is the story of a greedy individual who robbed his friends and ran away, or the spy handler who manipulated his enemy into destroying an alliance, or even the tale of a player trapped with an abusive leader and finally finding a way out. Read the rest of this entry »

Steamworld Dig 2 is a gentle jewel

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I’ve got a hookshot. Have you got a hookshot? I bet you don’t. I bet you’ve just got hands. Borrrring. Despite Steamworld Dig earning John’s admiration (so much so that he also used the comedy word “aplomb” when describing it) I had never played it. But I’m glad to have picked up its sequel, Steamworld Dig 2 [official site], in which a friendly robot called Dorothy goes looking for her uncle Rusty, the hero of the first game, in the deep mines beneath a western-style town. To get ever-deeper she has to dig, fight insects, plant bombs, and most importantly, hookshooooot.
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Have You Played… The Great Escape?

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

The Great Escape is neither a great game nor a great adaptation of the film of the same name, but it is at least an interesting adaptation.

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Bethesda’s Hines on VR: “It’s something all of our studios are looking at and talking about”

fallout-4-vr-pc

A couple of weeks back – when I also went hands-on with both Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and The Evil Within 2 – I goggled up and gave the upcoming VR version of 2016’s Doom a spin, as well as bearing witness to other folks’ flailing and giggling in Skyrim VR and Fallout VR. Bethesda’s triptych of 3D ultravision spin-offs are due before the year is out, with Skyrim only available on PSVR at least initially and Fallout and Doom only officially supporting HTC Vive, for obvious reasons. Their arrival is a pretty big event for a technology that so far has leaned far more heavily on brand new things rather than established names.

Curious about what this means for the technology and for Doom, Skyrim and Fallout, I picked Bethesda VP Pete Hine’s brains about the whys and wherefores, and what it might imply for the future of their own VR efforts. Also below: my own quick impressions of Doom VFR [official site].

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The Flare Path: Ultimate Realism

There are various ways to make a war game realistic. Battlefront do it with blue-chip ballistics and subtle spotting mechanics, Panther Games with plausible AI and plenty of command friction, Eagle Dynamics with sophisticated flight models and painstakingly reproduced avionics. We Are Muesli built Venti Mesi with the help of real Milanese memories and the free WW2 ‘narrative docu-game’ is incredibly powerful as a result. Read the rest of this entry »

Best PC gaming deals of the week

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Somehow, the British Summer of 2017 has all but passed now. Beyond making the always-constant British rain seem a little more appropriate, the seasonal change brings about a cavalcade of brand new video game releases as we head into October. Actually looking at October’s release calendar makes my bank account audibly creak and moan. That said, now that RUINER is finally out, I may spend an entire month playing that thing instead. Anyway, it’s the time of the week where we take a look at a big batch of the best deals of the week, so let’s go ahead an do that.

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Intel’s new Coffee Lake CPUs: right chips, wrong price

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Or should that be nearly the right chips at slightly the wrong prices? Either way, as I was saying Intel has finally pulled its finger out and given us PC diehards something to be other than apathetic about. No, not ridiculoso $2,000 processors with 18 cores. But new mainstream processors codenamed Coffee Lake that have now taken the leap from solid rumour to retail reality. With more cores across the board, it’s Intel’s biggest upgrade for at least five years and undeniably a good thing for gamers.

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Podcast: The Electronic Wireless Show talks Divinity: Original Sin 2, Heat Signature and things going wrong

"Hello dad, yeah it's all gone a bit murdery"

Oh no, you’ve tripped the alarm. Now the terrifying RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show, knows you’re here. It’s going to hunt you down and force you to listen to it. Quick! Think of a way out of this, before you hear all about Adam becoming an accidental mass murderer in Dishonored, or John obsessively re-loading his way out of a bad situation. If you don’t escape, I’ll have to tell you about the time I threw a gun at someone’s head in Heat Signature, to absolutely no effect. This week, you see, we’re talking about Things Going Wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Fortnite Battle Royale plays second fiddle to Plunkbat

All aboard the Battlebus

You know the drill. 100 players get dropped from a plane balloon-bus onto an island, where they scavenge for weapons with which to kill each other. A circular wall of death contracts at various intervals to force everyone together, until there’s only one person left standing.

Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode was released on Tuesday for free via the Epic Games launcher, and I’ve taken a break from Plunkbat to find out how it compares. It’s not quite a chicken dinner, but it’ll do for a starter.

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The 23 best VR games for PC

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Here they are then – the best games to play in virtual reality…and those games are “watching football,” “drinking”, “a nice cup of tea”, “fleeting emotional connection to another human being” and all those other everyday activities you believe to be real, as opposed than a simulation you have been experiencing since you first plugged your frail, mollusc-like form into a headset 19 years ago. SPOOKS!

But, should you persist in maintaining this fantasy, let’s go one level deeper and talk about the entertaining, satisfying or otherwise nifty games available for what is the current VR state-of-the-art in your imagined world: the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. The rival headsets are getting on for a couple of years old now, and in that time there’s been what can feel like a ceaseless storm of new games for them. How to choose, how to choose? Well, start here. These are not the only good’uns, please understand – but they are our favourite virtual realities right now.

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