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Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity

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Sales of Pillars Of Eternity 2: Deadfire were disappointing enough that Obsidian Entertainment would need to "re-examine the entire format of the game" before making a hypothetical third, game director Josh Sawyer has suggested. Writing in response to a fan asking after a third game, Sawyer explained that the sequel sold worse than the original, and he'd need to understand why before they were to do another in the same style. He makes clear that whether Pillars 3 happens is not a decision he himself has control over, but this does sound like the series is at least taking a break.

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Feature: The sky isn't the limit

Inside the free GTAV mod giving Los Santos a realistic glow-up

The next phase of Grand Theft Auto V’s PC glow-up is coming, like a beautiful high schooler in a teen movie taking their glasses off to reveal they were even more beautiful all along. Scheduled to launch in December via GTAV-mods.com, a massive update to the astounding (and free) NaturalVision mod will overhaul the game’s already age-defying looks. We’re talking a remodelled sky, reworked shadows, enhanced textures, transformed lighting (both interior and exterior), and realistic window reflections, amongst plenty of other juicy additions.

So who makes this mod, and where do they get off releasing it for free? To find out, I spoke with NaturalVision creator Razed, real name Jamal Rashid. The 28-year-old Miami native has been working on NaturalVision’s latest update in his spare time for the past 12 months, having spent over three years on the project in total. He and his three-person team do it purely out of passion.

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Feature: Forever and ever, amen

Steam Charts: Schteam Schmarts Edition

The results are in! The links between the longevity of Steam Charts and the decreases in violent crime, the improvement of sanitary water supplies, and sudden global drops in serious health issues, are no coincidence at all!

To quote from the paper recently published in Nature, "Causal links have been shown connecting Rock Paper Shotgun's Steam Charts articles to a remarkably number of positive worldwide trends, with strong suggestion that a global dependence on the column has been established, such that its weekly appearance is vital to humanity."

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Maps are brilliant. Turning complex landscapes into a flat series of sharp lines and abstract symbols is an art, and I've come to love poring over a good atlas as much as slapping together a fictional world map of my own. David King's free map-maker Tiny Islands is a delightful little toy for penning your own coastline, using simple puzzling to help build a rustic island chain with maximum efficiency.

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We've all seen our fair share of amusing hardware names over the years, but Corsair's Nightsword RGB mouse is quite possibly the best one yet. I just love it, particularly because there's nothing remotely sword-like about it at all. There is, I'll admit, a reasonably fine point on the end of its two main clicker buttons, but the patterned, soft-touch chassis and grippy left-facing thumb wing make it look and feel distinctly beetle-like to my eyes, especially when you catch a glimpse of its glowing hexagon-encrusted eyes down the front. A Nightscarab, perhaps?

Still, regardless of whether you fall on the blade or beetle side of this frankly ridiculous fence, both metaphors fall apart when you turn the Nightsword over and flip open its black, plastic belly. For inside are six small recesses for six tiny weights, allowing you to beef up the weight of the Nightsword from 119g to a chunky 141g. Yep, this is definitely a gaming mouse, all right. But is it worthy of joining our best gaming mouse rankings? Here's wot I think.

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If Rainbow Six Siege's next Season leaked last week, then Ubisoft tipped the whole bucket right over last night. Shifting Tides was officially announced during the Pro League Finals in Tokyo, bringing two Operators into the special forces deathmatch. Hit the Siege test server later today to try next season's new gunslingers, devastating new rifle, physics-breaking toys and a reworked Theme Park.

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Feature: Take up Armas

Best Arma 3 mods

The Arma series has a bit of a double identity. On one hand, you've got a hard-as-nails military sim shooter, pitting the fallibility of human senses up against a world populated by laser-accurate AI. On the other hand, you've got the ultra-moddable sandbox that spawned DayZ and (in turn) the battle royale genre as we know it. The Apelegs are connected to the Arma bone, apparently.

Arma 3, with its Steam Workshop integration and flexible tools has given players the means to create whole new worlds of conflict. With Bohemia Interactive finally focusing on future games, leaving the game in its player's hands, here's some of the biggest and best mods that Arma 3's community are field testing today.

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Now that our console cousins are traipsing all over Death Stranding, the mystery of what it even is has lifted: it's mostly a game about having a nice hike, trying to keep your balance and not to stack it down a hill because of your comically large backpack. I'm well up for a careful walk. The PC release of the first game from Hideo Kojima's now-independent Kojima Productions is due to follow in summer 2020, and publishers 505 Games on Friday solved the mystery of whether it'd be another of those there Epic exclusives: no, it will not.

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Feature: Speedy resolution

How to deal with Disco Elysium’s twelve-year-old drug addict

The first proper obstacle in amnesiac police RPG Disco Elysium, if you don’t count your ceiling fan, is a small child who has taken a lot of speed. He stands outside your hotel, chucking stones at your corpse. Your case’s corpse. The one you need to investigate. This won’t do.

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If you search "Agatha Christie hidden object game" you can find these, available to buy apparently legitimately, from a few places. Most of them have their own slightly shady launcher.

The premise is that you, playing as a version of fussy detective Hercule Poirot who looks like if someone drew David Suchet on a thumb, play through his most famous mysteries, but in hidden object form. You can do Death On The Nile, Murder On The Orient Express, Peril At End House. Fill yer murder boots. Enjoy the stretched images, because the games weren't made for modern aspect ratios. Honestly, I love them. Although I sort of want to call them shovelware, even though they're not exactly that.

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Feature: Read more

The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for relaxing into your week off, potentially with a huge RPG or three. I'll be busy playing cowboy, space cowboy or detective, but there's always room to read the best writing about videogames from the past week.

For Vice, Matthew Gault wrote about how Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare blurs distinctions between the wars it's based on, rewriting history for the benefit of people who can't countenance their country being in the wrong.

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Feature: Feeling weird about/with games

Priceless Play – 9 November 2019

I've been thinking a lot about "weird games" lately. When folks call things weird it seems to be a shortcut for saying, "this is different from what I usually experience, and was, therefore, unexpected." Sometimes it is dismissive, sometimes it is contentious, sometimes 'weird' is worn as a badge of honour.

In a past life, I considered myself an art historian (this is because I got a master's degree in art history, so I guess we could say that past life is this life, but let's not make it weird) and my favourite works were always the ones that seemed to make other people uncomfortable or got dismissed as "not art, surely." I don't say this to be smugly contrarian, revelling in how singularly unique and misunderstood I am (Todd Phillips: call me), but to give a bit of background into my understanding of what tends to get classified as "weird." Suffice to say, my parents hate going to art museums with me.

I promise not to talk to you about Carolee Schneemann or Sherree Rose, but I will recommend some games on itch.io for you.

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Feature: Well?

What are we all playing this weekend?

We are in a boring, sickly stage between seasonal events. Not quite Christmas, and yet we are still eating left over Halloween sweets in the office. I started this morning with an orange drumstick lolly. We don't even break up the drudgery with a pre-Christmas Christmas giving thanks for... killing a turkey? Wearing belts on hats? Colonialism? I am unsure, but I do know that, while I respect so many things about North American foods, I have had sweet potato with marshmallow on top and you people are maniacs. I also know that there are, at least, a lot of video games!

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

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Divinity: Original Sin 2 has had a couple of free Gift Bags drop already. Think of them as small mutators that add little features to the base game which you can toggle on or off. The first bag added new customisation options and a respec mirror onboard the Lady Vengeance. Bag two had herb gardens, talent tweaks, and action point increases. But bag three, Order & Magic, is the latest and greatest. It has a toggle called "Nine Lives" that adds a whistle that will summon the black cat.

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Earlier this week, Nvidia claimed you'd need one of their RTX 2060 cards to hit 60fps on High quality settings at 1920x1080 in Red Dead Redemption 2, which at the time sounded rather excessive. After all, an RTX 2060 is generally what I'd recommend for playing games at 2560x1440 these days, so to say you'd need this kind of calibre card for 1080p on not even the highest possible quality settings in RDR2 just didn't sound right - especially when Rockstar's own PC requirements for the game only recommends a GTX 1060.

Fortunately, I've finally been able to do some proper testing of my own after today's 1.14 patch fixed my Rockstar launcher woes, so I no longer have to use my lasso on Matthew's PC to do a bit of benchmarking - and I'm happy to report Red Dead 2's PC performance is a lot more promising for lower-end graphics card owners.

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Feature: They can survive almost anything

Let me tell you about my cockroach obsession in Disco Elysium

So Disco Elysium is an RPG, yes? And you have to solve a murder, because you're a cop. Except you also can't remember anything whatsoever, including your own name or where you badge and gun are (how are you supposed to hand them over to your chief when you break the rules to get results??) or even, initially, that you're a cop.

This creates the blank slate, on which you can paint the kind of cop you are. Blank ish, anyway -- you're still a middle aged, overweight, late stage alcoholic man, but by gosh you can choose how that man solves crimes and views the world. At EGX this year, developers Helen Hindpere and Robert Kurvitz talked about how they wanted people to really get into the role play -- to buy a pack of cigarettes, and smoke one every day in the same place at the same time, because that's a ritual their character has. I developed a ritual. But it wasn't as cool as smoking a lone cigarette, gazing off into the distance with a thousand yard stare. My obsession was not philosophical or well thought out, and it didn't even really make sense. But let me tell you about my cockroaches.

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Want to know the dark truth behind Eve: Online's infamous mass battles? They're bloody awful spectator sports. CCP's space epic might be equipped to handle six-thousand players, but it's gotta make some serious compromises. At the end of the day, you're watching thousand of blips fire lasers in severe slow-motion.

Aether Wars, a cloud-powered spin-off centred solely on these big brutal bashes, has proven twice already that Eve can do better. Now, CCP are gearing up for another showdown. This time, the battlefield will be Steam, with sign-ups for spaceborne slaughter opening today.

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Though space is considered fairly empty, Star Citizen isn't quite as sparse as people believe. I spent some time with it earlier this year and enjoyed a whole weekend exploring the universe. I flew to ArcCorp, a planet covered in a city. It was well worth the trip. I got to ride on a cyberpunk tram!

That’s not all there was to do, though. Star Citizen does have quests, I just didn’t partake. They’ve just shown off a very early concept for a mission in which the player leaps from one ship to another and starts a fight, which is exactly the sort of thing that gets my attention.

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Nvidia's GTX 1060 has been the cornerstone of many a gaming PC over the last couple of years, but its time in the sun is slowly coming to an end. Indeed, it was technically succeeded by Nvidia's 16-series of GTX graphics cards earlier this year when the GTX 1660 and GTX 1660 Ti arrived. Now, though, there's another 16-series card on the block: the GTX 1660 Super. But how much does the Super improve on the old 1060, and is it a decent upgrade? Let's find out with some sweet bar charts.

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Red Dead Redemption 2 is finally here, bringing its sweeping vistas of the American west to PC. Rubbish, then, that you're expected to experience the natural splendour of the rolling plains as an old man with a pound of gravel in his throat. Fortunately, thanks to the work of modders, one download and a few save edits are all it takes to swap those hands for hooves. Get stuck in the dirt and explore Rockstar's painstakingly modelled landscape as a beast of the wilds. Just like mother nature intended.

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Luckily for Kerbal Space Program 2, there’s no equivalent of a Cold War enemy in games to force it to take dangerous risks with its development process. As such, they can take their time with the space-race sequel, keeping the Kerbals safe for at least another year. The launch of KSP2 has received a “no go” order, leaving it grounded until after April 2020.

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Feature: Sonic meets Guitar Hero, Graham meets repeated failure

Skybolt Zack is a rhythm-platformer that requires a mastery I can’t give it

One Finger Death Punch is one of the most satisfying games ever made. It's a brawler in which one button attacks enemies to your left, and another attacks enemies to your right. With these simple controls, you tap-tap-tap your way through approaching waves of enemies while your stickman protagonist spins, kicks, punches and slices away in the center of the screen. You slip into a flow state of comfy destruction, and then it starts to cannily layer new things into the mix that require your attention. There are enemies that require multiple taps, then enemies that must be tapped in a certain order, then projectiles that must be tapped out of the air, and so on. It gradually extends your reflexive ability to respond to the chaos on screen, until you enter into a state of hyper-awareness. After this, returning to levels that seemed frantic an hour ago reveals them to be plodding bores. They are beneath you.

This is a post about Skybolt Zack though, which is not one of the most satisfying games ever made. I still think it might be quite good, however. But only if you're better than me at games.

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As Fallout 76 keeps toeing the line on whether it's a "proper" MMORPG, it's easy to forget that Bethesda have already kept a big online world kicking about for years. The Elder Scrolls Online is still quite happily letting dungeoneers plunder Tamriel for new loot, opening the doors to the Elsweyr cat kingdom just this year. Until next Wednesday, TESO has waived its entry fee, letting you romp across the countryside to your heart's content.

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So far, Red Dead Redemption 2’s hardest mission has been to get it to work. A fair few folk have been unable to get beyond the new Rockstar Launcher, a crime punishable by tickling in these here parts. If you’ve suffered, you might want to give it a try now. The latest update fixed the launcher trouble for our hardware editor Katharine Castle, who can now hopefully get to benchmarking it with a righteous fury.

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At the start of this year I declared, via a supporter-only post, that the mobile-only Meteorfall was my downfall. It was all John's fault (RPS in peace). He pointed me towards a game that refined roguelike deckbuilding down to binary decisions, sending me on gleefully overpowered runs that rivaled the satisfaction I found in Slay The Spire. Now he's gone and pointed me at its PC sequel, which came out on early early access two days ago.

Meteorfall: Krumit's Tale is very different. It's wearing the skin of a deckbuilding roguelike, but it's pushing my brain in the same direction as abstract puzzlers like 868-Hack or Desktop Dungeons. I've only played for half an hour, but it might be good enough to stand alongside them.

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Feature: Demaster and Commander

The Flare Path: Games That Gruntle

What devilry is this – a Flare Path devoid of disgruntlement? Either I'm going Semtex-soft in my old age, or I've spent the week in the company of games so marvellous they could turn Moaning Minnies into Appreciative Annies simply by smiling at them. Readers, meet Unity of Command II and A Painted Ocean, two titles that buoy the spirit and massage the mind as effectively as anything I've written about this year.

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Trying to find good gaming mouse if you're left-handed is still a trying experience in this day and age. Sure, there are growing numbers of ambidextrous mice out there, such as our best gaming mouse champ the Asus ROG Pugio and Steelseries Sensei 310, but they pale in comparison to the number of right-handed mice. Well, that small number of leftie-friendly mice is about to get a little bit bigger, as Razer have announced they're going to start making a proper left-handed version of their MMO gaming mouse, the Razer Naga.

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Feature: Cheap games, games and more games

Best PC gaming deals of the week – 8th November 2019

Blessed day, fellow deals hunters. The chilly November winds may be kicking up a storm outside, but finally, after days of patches, unexpectedly quitting launchers, your deals herald has finally got Red Dead Redemption 2 working on her PC. And to celebrate this most yeehaw of rootin' tootin' days, I come bearing Red Dead 2-based deals (at least if you're in the UK). Fear not, though, as there are plenty more savings to be had in this week's best PC gaming deals, including the entire Dark Souls franchise, The Banner Saga, Borderlands 3 and loads more. To the deals!

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