Do a barrel roll
The Brew Barons unfolds in a horrifying world where most agricultural tasks and outdoor mechanical activities are carried out using the medium of heavily armed seaplanes. Need apples for cider? Fly through the trees, cannons ablazing. Need to gather wheat? Fly the plane through the field using its propeller as a scythe, with hardier types of wheat requiring tougher propeller blades. Need to haul up scavenge from the ocean floor? Use the plane's sea anchor as a rudimentary fishing claw. Need to open a box you found on the beach? The plane's the thing, etcetera.
The studio previously acquired all of Alan Wake in 2019
Bringing a new questline, final boss and quality-of-life updates
Almost a year after it launched into early access, Inkbound will release its full 1.0 offering this April. The cooperative mixture of tight turn-based combat and roguelike progression from the folks behind Slay the Spire-rivalling deckbuilder Monster Train will mark its full release with a new questline and final boss for its story, as well as a bunch of other additions and improvements.
Vote now as we continue deciding the single best thing in games
Last time, you decided that cosmetics unlocked by challenges are better than characters making 'bdbdbdbdbdi' noises while talking in text. This was a close one but your voices were, regrettably, heard clear. This week, I ask you to choose between two different ways to clear your path of obstacles. What's better: enemies stopping respawning after you kill them loads, or removing a card from your deck?
Devs will also change rollout of future Hacked events to avoid disrupting Quick Play matches
Changes to Overwatch 2’s Competitive system in its most recent Season Nine has seen the ranked mode overtake casual Quick Play as the most popular way to play the hero shooter sequel. Its developers are also looking ahead to further changes in Season 10, including adjustments to grouping restrictions and its experimental Hacked event.
Deck Nine blame “the game industry’s worsening market conditions”
The developers behind the Life is Strange remaster, spin-offs Before the Storm and True Colors, and The Expanse: A Telltale Series, Deck Nine, have laid off 20% of the studio’s staff due to “the game industry’s worsening market conditions”. The latest job losses are the second wave of layoffs at the company in the last 12 months.
TallBoys cut their voice recognition feature and added a tutorial
Could there be a more than universally relatable quote shared by indie developers than: "We really just wanted to make a small game"? Of course, there's little to complain about when games like Cuphead or Owlboy finally see the light of the day, demonstrating what wonders growing ambition can often bring.
Having said that, I’m not entirely surprised that Vladimir Semenets, the lead game designer of Militsioner, sits in front of me on Zoom and tells me how they initially envisioned a six-month project, "something very fast". Yet, here we are, three years and more than a dozen developer vlogs since TallBoys' surreal runaway sim first captured everyone's attention (including one state-owned Russian news channel). If not for its Kafkaesque premise, which pits players against a ten-story tall looming policeman in a quest to escape a small town, then definitely because of the game’s ambitious voice recognition feature that promised real-time conversation instead of pre-written dialogue.
Supporters only: To survive Skull And Bones, pair it with Catfish
Not the bottlemen
I don't think I've fully recovered from my time with Skull And Bones, having suffered tremendously as a result of the review. There might be fun in some of its slower moments, but some of the generally positive, "It's actually quite a good game!" takes that I've seen honestly baffle me. The game is a series of long, annoying journeys, during which the most fun I had was turning my head to watch Catfish on my other monitor. MTV's show about people getting duped online was the perfect sailing companion, and perhaps, one of the only reasons I survived my brush with the live service seas.
But you need to buy the game first, and keep nothing if you stop paying
If you were to buy every Stellaris expansion and content pack separately at full price, it would run you £227.62. To make that perhaps a little less daunting, Paradox have launched an optional monthly subscription service that gives you access to all the expansions. They've done this for several of their other grand strategy games before. It starts at £8.50 for one month then offers discounts for longer terms. While I can see niche uses for the option, I certainly wouldn't want to pay for this regularly. Would you?
But Epic say there's "currently zero evidence" that claims are true
Epic Games are investigating a claim that the Fortnite publishers have suffered a massive ransomware attack, with almost 200GB of data reportedly stolen including emails, passwords, full names, payment information, source code and more besides.
A long time ago on a desktop far, far away, my family once owned a demo disc for the original Star Wars: Dark Forces. I cannot remember for the life of me which level(s) it contained. My only surviving memory of it is having quite a good time blasting Stormtroopers and the chaps in black with the swoopy, knock-off Vader helmets, but also getting terribly lost and not really knowing what the heck I was meant to be doing. Now, playing Nightdive Studio's Star Wars: Dark Forces Remaster as an adult probably close to three decades later, both these feelings have come roaring back, as this is very much a Star Wars FPS in the vein of Doom and other early 90s shooters (thumbs up). But it's one that leans so hard into its maze-like level design that it can regularly feel like a little bit of a tough hang in the cold hard light of 2024 (thumbs down).
Crucially, though, not to the point where it's best left consigned to the history books. This is still an enjoyable and worthwhile artefact in Star Wars' PC gaming history, and if your eyes (and general patience levels) can't quite stomach the 'Classic' and still available 1995 original, then this remaster is a pin-sharp glow-up for modern hardware.
The Imperium is indeed glorious, and reasonably priced
By this headline, I really don't mean that Warhammer 40k is rubbish. But if you have no idea what it is apart from "thing Henry Cavill got made fun of for enjoying on the Graham Norton Show" or "reason I walk past a bunch of beardy lads taking a vape break outside a small shop with steamed up windows every time I go down Lower Glanmire Road", PowerWash Simulator's latest officially licensed IP tie-in DLC could act like a sort of gateway drug. A first step on the path to buying a bunch of miniatures. It's out now, for £6.50/$8/€8 on Steam, and it's very fun.
Microtransaction purchases will now appear as they should
Hell(o), bellowing caped stooges of Super Earth! It's time for another Helldivers 2 patch. This one makes some heroic adjustments to the shooter's generally inoffensive microtransaction system, targetting a technical issue whereby Super Credits and Premium Warbonds would not show up after purchase. Huzzah! Developers Arrowhead have also nuked a rather barmy Helldivers 2 glitch that allowed for unlimited stratagem use with no cooldowns following an AFK kick.
The action-RPG is one of the most-played games on Steam right now
Having launched out of almost five years of early access last week and quickly become one of Steam's current most-played games, fantasy action-RPG Last Epoch has laid out initial plans for post-1.0. Expect bug fixes and quality-of-live improvements soon, then new challenging fights later. The developers, Eleventh Hour Games say they're "going to have a heavy emphasis on expanding end-game content". But first, yes, more fixes and improvements to the servers which suffered and stumbled.
The devs have been beavering away
Against The Storm is a roguelite city builder that features lizards and beavers, as they attempt to survive in a universe where it doesn't stop raining. We gave it a Bestest Best badge when it launched into 1.0, and since then the developers promised more major updates. Patch 1.2 is the latest of the bunch, and when it arrives next week it's bringing with it a "consumption/production" window, upgrades to the Blight Post, and lots of balance changes.
For real this time
It's been a hot minute since we last wrote about UFO 50, the 50-games-in-1 8-bit retro collection from the makers of Spelunky, Downwell and friends. It's been MIA for several years now (and no wonder, given these are 50 full-sized games being made by several different, and likely very busy, developers), but at long last, Spelunky creator Derek Yu has posted an update on Steam saying the project is finally nearing completion. "We should have a complete game in a few months but are planning for a release in the second half of the year to give us time to do more testing and then marketing," he said.
Teaser trailer is appropriately unrevealing
DarkStone Digital, solo developer of The Mortary Assistant, is making a new horror game based on Paramount's Paranormal Activity films. Titled Paranormal Activity: Found Footage, it's being published by DreadXP and features some kind of reactive haunt system, with scares dialling up and down based on your actions. DreadXP have shared a teaser consisting of some crackly logos against a backdrop of radio chatter. Given that this is a Paranormal Activity adaptation, it's possible the trailer harbours spooky secrets. You may wish to experiment with turning the brightness up and down, playing the video backwards, or watching it again at the next full moon, perhaps while standing in a cemetery loudly declaring that ghosts aren't real.
The SteelSeries Arctis 7+ is a great cross-platform choice.
SteelSeries make some of my favourite gaming headsets - and RPS' favourite wireless gaming headset, which today is discounted to under £100 versus its normal price of £175. That's a good price for the Arctis 7+, a comfortable and great-sounding headset that works not only on PC but also on Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S - that's all the consoles!
That's £2.71 per USB port!
Here's something a little different: a seven-port powered USB hub from Sabrent that makes it easy to connect a huge amount of peripherals and drives to your PC without having to fumble blindly with the back of your PC - or turn one of your laptop's USB ports into many many more. It normally goes for £30 to £40, but today you can pick it up for just £19 at Amazon UK.
We're going to need a bigger tent
I've done some elementary study of the planet Jupiter for various creative research projects/dead-ends. It's probably a symptom of my failings as an astronomer, but I have to say that at no point have I noticed any gigantic, depressed clowns. In new platformer Clown Meat, one such gigantic, depressed clown has swum through Jupiter's atmosphere, drifted to Earth and kicked off some kind of meatpunk apocalypse, saturating the surrounding countryside with circus-themed abominations.
The sleeper has aquakened
I've had to look up.... goddamn it, hang on. I've had to look up Wrath Colon Aeon Of Ruin every day to remember its utter nothing of a name. Such a weak title deserves a much worse game, but this captures the feeling of its late 90s FPS influences as they actually were, and ends up just familiar enough to work, and just original enough to refresh the formula. At times, it's a little too accurate, but even with its annoyances dialled up by the pressure of playing it too hard for the sake of review, I'm impressed with the balancing act it's struck.
Refreshed for Sons of the Forest 1.0
Update: Sons Of The Forest 1.0 is out, marking the end of early access. I’ve been doing some re-testing and as hoped, 1.0 runs significantly better than the version I originally benchmarked for this analysis. Sometimes over 20% faster, depending on hardware and settings. Huzzah and, indeed, yippee.
From what I can tell, its individual settings still have a broadly proportional performance impact to the early access build, so I’ve left most of the guide below as is. Still, I’ve still added some results from my 1.0 testing, most notably on the newly-added FSR 3 upscaling.
The mostly-original article continues below...
The new upscaler is nice, but this full release runs quicker regardless
Since I’m apparently on survival game duty for the rest of my days, and we’ve just had a firm reminder of how wobbly an early access launch can be, it seems like a good time to check in on that there Sons Of The Forest 1.0 release and see whether it’s felt the effects of its own early access polishing process.
The farming sim is eight years old and has 30 million copies sold
Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone has marked the 8th birthday of his farming sim phenomenon baby (also called Stardew Valley) by announcing the impending release of update 1.6. The PC version - the one we care about - is arriving on the 19th of March, and consoles and mobile as soon as possible after that. The actual content of update 1.6 is largely a mystery, but Barone has teased a few things here and there, including that it's "mostly changers for modders" that'll make it "easier and more powerful to mod".
That's a paddling
I seem to be on a highly irritating "refuse to play games as they were intended to be played" spree lately. A couple of weeks ago, it was "I refuse to leave the prologue area in Skull And Bones", a decision that has sadly been born out by Ed's review. Then it was "I refuse to play Helldivers 2 as a co-op shooter", which again, is a stance I am sticking with, even as I am overrun and sat on by Terminid Chargers. And now it's "I refuse to play Cobalt Core as a roguelike deck-builder, because it secretly isn't one". Come now, squint at the header image so that the text and numbers fade away, and all you can see are coloured shapes. Pay attention to certain underlying rhythms while playing. Need I say any more?
It's proposed that Sony London be closed
Another day, another videogame company jettisoning a large number of people "who have contributed to our success" so as to position themselves for growth in the face of "challenging times". Today it's Sony's turn with the axe: the PlayStation publisher have announced plans to reduce their global workforce by about 8% or 900 people, so as "to future ready ourselves to set the business up for what lies ahead", in the words of outgoing president and CEO Jim Ryan.
Several well-known PlayStation studios are affected, including The Last Of Us developer Naughty Dog, Ratchet & Clank developer Insomniac Games, Horizon developer Guerilla Games and PlayStation VR specialists Firesprite. It's also proposed that PlayStation close Sony London in their entirety, though the exact scale of the reductions remains to be seen.
I like a little mystery left in a world
While players have scoured and stained every inch of the Lands Between in the two years since Elden Ring launched, they might not have uncovered every secret just yet. With a June release now confirmed for Shadow Of The Erdtree, the long-awaited expansion, director Hidetaka Miyazaki has now hinted that we Tarnished may have missed something. One small secret may yet remain, assuming he's not pulling another prank, or maybe not. Honestly, Miyazaki should say it has hundreds of undiscovered things. Keep everyone guessing. Communal Internet knowledge has ruined the mystique of video games.
Ever hear of Kindle Worlds? Yeah it didn't work.
Last night I dreamt I had to review a Dragon Age DLC. I reviewed it poorly. I thought that it should not have been marketed as main game DLC instalment when it pivoted to being a magical girl dating sim. This serves to show how unrealistic dreams can be; in my waking hours I am, of course, of the clear-eyed awareness that a magical girl dating sim is entirely in-keeping with the rest of the Dragon Age oeuvre.
I'm worried about Dragon Age. I'm worried that so much cost has been sunk, team members changed and redrafting did that it'll end up kind of a mess. But that's the pessimism talking. What I'd like to propose is that all the big game companies have a crack at something similar to Amazon's (hiliarious and abortive) attempt to officially license fan fiction, which was called Kindle Worlds.
I think I'll Leica this one
As someone who's learning Japanese, I crave other methods of language acquisition that don't feel like studying. Textbooks, flashcards, even watching Japanese media can all feel a bit too close to being back in a classroom. Shashingo, a game that helps you learn Japanese through taking cute photos, may be the study companion I've craved. And having covered it two years ago when it was first properly shown off, I'm very happy to see it's finally arriving later today.
Previously announced for the Switch, Ender Magnolia: Bloom In The Mist also hits Steam in March
Out of all the Nintendo Direct announcements last week, the one I was most sad to see not get a PC release date was the sequel to the much beloved Metroidvania Ender Lilies. The announcement came as a bit of a surprise, all told, and I was worried I'd have to consign it to what I've now dubbed my Unicorn Overlord pile of games that are never coming to PC. Happily, publishers Binary Haze Interactive have now confirmed that Ender Magnolia: Bloom In The Mist is, in fact, coming to PC (and other consoles) after all, and that it's coming real soon, as its PC early access release has been set for just weeks away on March 25th. Result.
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