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Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity

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'What if battle royale but boats' is a pitch I can get behind. I've only played one round of Maelstrom so far, its hull now refurbished with the more inviting planks of free-to-play, but it won't be my last. It's a slower, more considered affair than its land-bound brethren. It turns out orcs and goblins build ships that are far less squishy than fleshbags, encouraging fights that twist and develop rather than sink before they've started.

Come, let the salty air of novelty and not-costing-any-money blow away your battle royale fatigue.

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Void Bastards was a right laugh, yeah? I had a proper good time blasting my way around the daftest comic 2000AD never made earlier this year, but it did get a little stale after a bit. There's only so many times a chavvy wee sod can tell you to shove a blaster up your arse before it starts to grate, y'know. Even if it's a lark for a few evenings, Graham felt it needed a bit more direction in his review. Today's Bang Tidy update might not reinvent that wheel, but it does shove a few more cats into the mix to keep things interesting.

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It's always bummed me out that Ghost Recon doesn't delve into the supernatural. We've done the tactical shooting thing a thousand times already, but F.E.A.R was ages ago, and it only had the one ghost. Let me take my band of ruff n' tuff soldier boys and steal into the jungle with mystic charms and mortar support, scoping out spooks at the end of a big gun. You could even go face to face with big man Clancy as well, now he's in the dirt.

Ah, well. Ghost Recon Breakpoint doesn't have ghosts, but it does have robots. Robots you can shoot next week when Breakpoint's open beta opens fire.

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Feature: If only the Ryzen 7 3700X wasn't so damn good

AMD Ryzen 7 3800X review: Powerful, but expensive

It's been quite a while since AMD first launched their new Ryzen 3000 CPUs, but I've finally managed to get my hands on the last remaining member of their new gaming CPU family, the Ryzen 7 3800X. It's the even nippier big brother of the already excellent AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, but with the even more powerful Ryzen 9 3900X now sitting above it in the Ryzen family pecking order, this eight-core processor definitely has an air of 'awkward middle child' about it. Does it still have what it takes to muscle in on our best gaming CPU material? Here's wot I think.

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How far would you go for eternal happiness? Ditch your family and friends, head out into the woods alone? Mess around with monsters and crooks? I'm perfectly happy wallowing in angst, thank you very much, but 8-year-old Misfortune Ramirez Hernandez is certainly braver than me. Or more gullible, perhaps. Little Misfortune's unfortunate adventure begins today, and somehow, I don't think eternal happiness will come without caveats.

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While Creative Assembly have still announced no such game, A Total War Saga: Troy today graduated from "open secret" status to "mate come on". The latest issue of PC Gamer has hit some store shelves and the cover game is you-know-what. "Epic battle in a world of gods and monsters," the cheery RPS fanzine declares. I would very much like this to mean it's a mythological epic with a giant wooden horse and Achilles literally having a fight with a river and all that. Details are hazy for now, though Creative Assembly's public stance on the game they still have not announced downplays the fantastical. Cowards.

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Surreal detective thriller Disco Elysium sounds too good to be true, so weird and clever and fascinating that I've been happy for it to live in the dream space of what might be rather than face it in the real world as an actual concrete game I can actually play and potentially be disappointed by. That bliss will soon end, as developers ZA/UM today announced a release date of October 15th for the game formerly known as No Truce With The Furies. God, I hope it's truly glorious. It might just be. Here, see a bit more in this new trailer.

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Feature: Stop, in the name of the bore

Rebel Cops review

It’s interesting how often cops crop up as heroes. Not unsurprising, as the fantasy makes sense in a macho, often politically dubious sort of way. It's not one of mine, however. As such, I'm glad Rebel Cops steps away from it a little. In this turn-based, tactical, XCOM-ish spin-off from This Is The Police, your cops are indeed rebels, rallying against systemic injustice. Admittedly, it's injustice that stems from the corrupting hands of criminal underlords, rather than those that hold power in certain real world police forces. But I don't hold this against the Unapproved Fuzz. They've got far too many other problems.

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Zero Escape director Kotaro Uchikoshi and the Spike Chunsoft gang returned today with another spooky-ooky adventure full of terrible killings, AI: The Somnium Files. It's the branching story of a detective with an AI living in his bionic eye who's out investigating a string of eye-gouging murders by gathering evidence then diving into witnesses' dreams. Video games, you wonderful little weirdos, you've done it again.

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The best thing about Bastion, Overwatch's portable chaingun, is the way it falls apart. Other heroes might spiral and ragdoll once they've popped their last hitpoint, but Bastion? The robot falls apart like every screw in its chassis just gave up, leaving a discarded Bionicle kit on the battlefield. There's a bunch of Overwatch Lego kits these days, but it's no wonder Bastion's Lego reimagining fits the best out of the Overwatch cast.

Burning money on a licensed plastic turret is a big ask, mind. Fortunately, you can now earn a digital Lego look for Bastion in Overwatch this month by completing in-game challenges.

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Feature: Two teams remain

Know It OWL: Dawn of the final day

I had a different opening paragraph for this article until I went looking for a header image. Now I've deleted it, and instead I'm going to talk about why I'm in love with this picture of Park "Saebyeolbe" Jongryeol. This is my 22nd and penultimate entry in this column, and choosing a lead photo is always one of my favourite parts, because there are also always so many moments of joy to choose from. Yes, you'll often see pictures of players looking focused or upset, but my personal style guide generally skews towards an image of celebration. Like this one.

Except Saebyeolbe just lost a game in this image. That confetti is San Francisco Shock orange; they just made it to playoffs, leaving Saebyolbe and the rest of the Excelsior in third place. But he's still smiling, congratulating his team, generally looking on top of the world. It's more than okay for players to be gutted after losing, and they should be given the space to feel that way without being exploited for broadcast. But where we over-focus on those, we miss ray of sunshine reactions like Saebyolbe's (and SonicFox before him).

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When you think of it, it's kinda shocking how little experience you need to get behind the wheel of a spaceship these days. I don't remember Frontier ever issuing driving licenses, and it shows. Rich kids slamming into the walls of space stations, speeding into black holes. No wonder warp-heads keep going on five-month trips across the galaxy - it's the only way to avoid getting into a trillion-pound rear-enders. Not to worry. Getting into the cockpit should be a little less daunting starting today, with Elite Dangerous's New Starter Experience.

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If you played Destiny 2 through the Forsaken expansion but didn't buy the Annual Pass after that, good news: you can new play all of the Pass's modes, raids, quests, and that for free. With an update last night, Bungie set the Annual Pass content free for all Forsaken owners. There's some good stuff in there. That can more than occupy you for the next fortnight until the Shadowkeep expansion and free-to-play relaunch arrive.

Bungie have also blopped out a dev diary vid chatting about their "five-year vision" for the sci-fantasy MMOFPS. Five years, huh? I'm game.

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The Watcher is the best thing to hit Slay The Spire since sliced fungi beast. She's the new character currently lurking on the beta branch: a monk for whom deck balance is unprecedentedly essential. She's all about flowing in and out of different stances, dishing out unseemly damage, but then taking unseemly damage if you can't play a card that stops her being so angry. In the late game, a single turn will see you pivot between stances more often than two coked-up adolescents on a see-saw.

That looks a little bit like this, if you're curious.

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Rain, rain, go away, come again once you've got a new assortment of tools I can murder monsters with. Oh, hello Risk Of Rain 2. What've you got there? The Skills 2.0 update, introducing a loadout system that lets you configure each character's skills at the start of each run, a new survivor with a grappling hook, plus new monsters, bosses and items?

None of that fixes my main problem with the 3D roguelike, but as the ancient proverb goes, a grappling hook is a balm for all wounds.

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Feature: If I die before I wake...

Session’s ragdolls and replays are a strong skateboarding combo

Skater bois and skater goils, rejoice. There is a new skateboarding game rolling around. Session is an early access ollie 'em up with a familiar twin-stick setup and a big concrete playground to cruise around in. Steve did not enjoy it in his early access review. But for me, "the QWOP of skateboarding games" sounds perfect. And as the only person in the RPS treehouse who can comfortably pop a 180 yeetspin into a frontside blundergrind, I had to look for myself to see if it was up to my high standards. Conclusion: I like it, as demonstrated by these GIFs of me failing to land simple tricks.

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Running a museum, I imagine, is probably quite hard work. Academia is a nightmare to deal with, VIP visitors and families want to be entertained. Ben Stiller's chasing a tiny wax Owen Wilson all over the shop and the T-Rex skeleton has gotten loose, again. Developers Viewport Games reckon that sounds like an absolute riot, and have only gone and thrown together their own museum-builder. Scrap your plans to go to the galleries with your gran next year - we're planning a trip to Mondo Museum.

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Just when the Epic Games Launcher seemed like it might have been the final salvo in the launcher wars, along come Rockstar Games with a launcher of their own. The imaginatively-named Rockstar Games Launcher lets you launch Rockstar Games games, and also buy them. Okay? And? Why would I want that? Well, Rockstar are hoping to tempt people to install it by initially offering 2004's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as a freebie.

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Groundhog Day has a VR sequel. Let that sink in for a second. The Bill Murray comedy vehicle has been handed over to Tequila Works, and they've handed the curse of living the same day over and over to Phil Connors Jr - the junior to Murray's Phil Connors. He's back in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania, living his old man's nightmare, and just like pa, he's got to learn an important lesson about being a good dude by suffering horrifically. Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son launched today. Hopefully, it's the only today.

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Valve are preparing a new look for the digital shelves storing your games, expanding the client's Library view with more information on game updates and what your pals are up to. Basically they're repainting the digital shelves and tucking an iPad between your fiction and poetry sections. Excellent metaphor, Alice. Valve are looking to test the new Steam Library before rolling it out to everyone, so you can now opt into the open beta to see for yourself.

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Feature: Never work with children or animals, folks

Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch Remastered review

In Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch, saving the world isn't so much about doing battle with the forces of evil (although that's certainly part of it). Instead, it's about mending the broken hearts of the people within it. Whether it's restoring the enthusiasm of a depressed town guard or snapping the bovine ruler of a desert kingdom out of their all-consuming cheese obsession, it's the personal struggles that come to define this otherwise bright and breezy adventure. They give it a lot more heart than your Dragon Quests and your Final Fantasies, where the extent of people's troubles often stop at 'please kill ten of these giant rats for me so I can give you a stat-boosting sock in return'.

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Daymare: 1998 is the zombie survival horror shooter from the team who started out with a fan remake of Resident Evil 2, before getting an awkward "could you not" from Capcom in 2015.

The premise is similar, and given the game's roots it'd be mean spirited to give it a hard time for being a case of "investigate the mystery oubreak, but oh no! It's zombies!" again. You clomp about a dark installation and parts of the city, reading paperwork, snatching supplies, and launching bullets into zombies and warped monstrosities with a small metal tube powered by explosions. I've had a bit of a go at it, so there'll be impressions and a trailer below.

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Feature: Skate or die

Premature Evaluation: Session

Skateboarding was born out of the surfer movement of California in the early 1950s, when a bunch of surfers were dismayed that their surfboards ground to a halt whenever they tried to surf along park benches or ollie over a man lying down in the street with an egg in his mouth. By adding wheels to their boards, and making the boards really tiny, and then doing something with ball bearings I guess, they transformed a once aquatic hobby into a cool new sport that could be enjoyed while wearing cargo pants.

The ability to skate anywhere and everywhere spawned a counterculture movement among rebellious young skateboarders, who had no issues “flipping the bird” to the “pigs” who couldn’t “deal” with their attitude towards the “unconventional use of public urban spaces hijacked by faceless corporate landlords following the capitalist land-grab of the mid-20th century”, maaan. Which brings us to hurtling through the subsequent decades to Session, an early access skateboarding game, out today.

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Mini Metro is awfully pleasant, isn't it? I've grown quite fond of lounging around, putting together an idealised transit system that - no matter how much I fudge things up - always turns out utopian compared to what the real world can put together. Yes, I say to myself, isn't it lovely to lay down this tramline without racking up millions of quid and shutting down half the city. Truly, games are fantastical creations.

Now that developers Dinosaur Polo Club have solved railway problems for good (probably), their next shot is aimed squarely at the bad boy of public infrastructure. Announced today, Mini Motorways will take on traffic.

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One of the few PC series even sold in boxes nowadays, Football Manager will switch from ye olde plastic DVD case to "eco-friendly" packaging with this year's game. They've hit upon a revolutionary new material for PC game packaging: cardboard. Unlike the horse-sized PC game boxes of the 90s, this is a wee gatefold affair made from recycled cardboard and vegetable inks and things. Sports Interactive bossman Miles Jacobson says this is "the most environmentally friendly packaging we've been able to put together."

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You're on a hostile alien planet, in a machine you don't know how to work. You've jumped into this device in a desperate bid for safety, wanted for crimes unknown, with the cops at your heels. The actions of the entities outside (yep, definitely entities outside) can only be gleaned through your scanners, once you've turned them on. You don't know how to turn them on. Or how to move. Or how to stop the pressure from crushing everything.

Nauticrawl, previously 20,000 Atmospheres, has one of the most intriguing pitches I've ever read. It's out now, but you won't catch me in that machine until someone tells me I won't cry.

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You know what Final Fantasy XIV was missing? Existentially depressed robots, probably. Truth be told I've never played the MMO. Nor Nier: Automata, for that matter. I'm sure it has all that clever storytelling and philosophical guff you lot say it does, but I never got past the whole "explode yourself to see some robot panties" layer. Really, that's just how it goes.

But hey! Suppose if I ever chance my mind on either, I can always kill two birds with one stone. Next month's Shadowbringers update finally brings the two together in the first Yorha: Dark Apocalypse raid.

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If you've yet to buy an Nvidia RTX graphics card, there's a new game bundle in town. Previously, Nvidia were giving away free copies of Control and Wolfenstein: Youngblood when you bought any qualifying RTX or RTX Super GPU, laptop or desktop, but starting today until November 18th they're going to be lobbing in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare with them instead. As you may remember, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is yet another of this year's big blockbusters with confirmed ray tracing support. However, you also may remember from last month's big Gamescom trailer for it that they had to draw great big green boxes round the ray tracing bits because they were all so darn subtle.

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