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Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity

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Do you ever play Valorant and just do a little sigh when you see what map has been picked from the pool for your next match? For me, that's Split (and also Icebox actually, but this post isn't about that freezy fiend). Split's always been a tough one for attackers, with its annoyingly tight choke points you'd need to funnel down, and far too many 50/50 angles for defenders to hide in. But last night, Riot Games released a patch with tons of little changes that should make Split a whole lot less frustrating to play.

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Hitman 3 servers continuing to struggle

Officially, Hitman 3 launched yesterday. In reality, uh, some players still aren't really getting to play. The servers which imported progression from the previous two games have been overloaded, an issue Io Interactive scrambled to fix yesterday. Server woes are also causing some players to have the game interrupted by error messages prompting them to reconnect or play offline. Io's most recent statement said they were working on servers.

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My sole weeps for these RTX 3080 shoes

I honestly don't know where to begin with this pair of trainers that PC manufacturer NZXT and fashion outfit Artifact Studios announced last night. At first, I thought it was merely a fancy sneaker with an RTX 3080 ground into the heel - a feat that, during a global graphics card shortage, would have made my soul cry big salty tears of bitter discontent. Upon closer inspection, though, it seems they've built an entire PC inside this enormous piece of footwear, with an NZXT cooler, motherboard and fans all visible through the transparent purple side panel. It's an impressive feat, to be sure, but I also have so many questions. How does it run? How many feet per second can you travel in these things? And will the fans help keep my toes nice and cool, or will they tear my soles to absolute shreds?

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Update 21/01/2021: Valve have responded to the European Commission's claims, saying they disagree with the Commission's findings and the fine they've been issued. Read their full statement below. Original story from 20/01/2021.

Valve and a handful of game publishers have landed themselves in hot water with the European Commision for geo-blocking Steam keys in certain regions in Europe. The Steam owners, along with Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax (Bethesda's parent company), have been collectively fined €7.8 million (around £6.9 million) for "breaching EU antitrust rules".

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Feature: Making Ichi-bank

The joy of being a benevolent capitalist in Yakuza: Like A Dragon

Hong Kong has a popular snack chain called Aji Ichiban. Despite the name, it’s not actually Japanese, but I do recall going to these stores a lot whenever my family and I visited, where we’d fill our suitcases with its giant pack range of Chinese pork jerky and dried mangos.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon’s Ichiban Confections is also a snack shop, albeit one that specialises in Japanese rice crackers. It’s also unfortunately on its last legs - unless someone with the right business acumen can turn it around.

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Feature: I... DRINK... YOUR... (space) MILKSHAKE!

Have You Played… Offworld Trading Company?

OK, I know this is my second Have You Played…? to find an excuse to start by talking about Age Of Empires 2, and I imagine Alice Bee is making a proper wolf noise out of frustration as she edits this. I am almost sorry. But like a smug schoolboy proclaiming he’s "home" in a game of "it" by touching a tree, I've got a cast iron excuse here. Because Offworld Trading Company's lead developer Soren Johnson told me himself that this cracking solar-system economics-'em-up was directly inspired by the simple yet robust supply/demand modelling behind the market building in AoE2.

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Bright and colorful platformer Balan Wonderworld isn't too far away from its March release date now but you can try it out next week if you're keen. Square Enix have announced that you can hop in and give it a go on January 28th. You can even try out the local co-op bits if you're planning to play along with a pal when it launches.

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It's been years since I've played Minecraft on a regular basis but I still really enjoy when new features and creatures start showing up in game. Without fail, it means that the always creative Minecraft players will come up with unexpected ways to use them. The newest Minecraft snapshot adds some more parts of the upcoming Caves & Cliffs update including the pretty glow squids and their glowing ink.

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While he's spending quarantine in New Zealand, the national news channel has gotten Valve guy Gabe Newell to sit down and pointedly not answer some of his very favorite questions. They did their best to ask about all the games that end with threes, but Newell of course declined to say anything on the subject. He was willing to say that the company has games in development currently and also mentioned that launching Half-Life: Alyx had created the despire within the company to continue creating singleplayer games.

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The magic of AI-powered text to speech continues as Skyrim modders get their hands on an application that generates speech from text based on voice samples from Bethesda games. It's already inspired a trailer with AI-only voice acting and a new mod that gives Skyrim characters lines to compliment your dragonborn's naked figure. Oh, the things modders will do.

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Launch day log in issues aren't a thing I'd expect to hear about surrounding a single player stealth romp but hey, it's 2021. There are no rules. Hitman 3 is out today and it seems that the website meant to import your prior hitmaning progress into the newest murder fest is having a bit of a struggle. That wouldn't be so bad, except waiting to make that import is effectively keeping players from starting in on Hitman 3. Io Interactive say they're on the case.

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Among Us became a surprise smash hit in 2020. The hidden-role murder 'em up was originally released in 2018, and managed to burst its way to fame late last year thanks in large part to lots of Twitch streamers. Alas, this success brought with it a fair few challenges for the developers at Innersloth. Yesterday, they released a dev blog explaining why development and updates have been taking so long, and telling fans a bit about what's been going on behind the scenes.

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Hitman 3 is out now

Ian Hitman's current trilogy of sandbox stealth-o-murder games wraps up today with Hitman 3, which launched just a few minutes ago. As he fights a vast conspiracy, he'll do murders in new levels everywhere from England to Dubai, and get into a few of his trademark daft situations. One mission is just a murder mystery potentially starring Ian, an actual murderer, as the detective. Unfortunately, the promised ability for owners of the previous two games to connect and play them inside 3 is delayed.

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Feature: A 1440p monitor with a 240Hz refresh rate, what could go wrong?

AOC Agon AG273QZ review

Until recently, anyone looking to buy a 240Hz gaming monitor had to make do with a 1920x1080 resolution. That's fine if you're buying a screen that's 24in or 25in in size, but when many 240Hz monitors stretch that resolution all the way to 27in, many of them become ill-suited to heavy desktop work due to their low pixel densities. Fortunately, the tide's beginning to turn in this respect, as we're now seeing an increasing number of 27in, 240Hz monitors with proper 2560x1440 resolutions - a much more agreeable figure for those after a screen that can pull double duties as a work and play monitor. The AOC Agon AG273QZ is one such gaming display, offering a slightly cheaper (and flatter) alternative to Samsung's similarly-specced Odyssey G7.

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Blizzard are shaking up Hearthstone's update schedule with a crafty new strategy: big expansions that now spawn small expansions. The Darkmoon Races is the first of what they've dubbed 'Mini-Sets', which shuffles in some new additions to last year's Madness At The Darkmoon Faire expansion. It contains 35 new cards and arrives tomorrow.

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Horizon Zero Dawn was pretty darn buggy when it came out on PC last year. It was a shame considering it was the first bug PlayStation exclusive to make the jump to PC. But Guerrilla Games have been steadily updating it to fix all sorts of problems, and yesterday the game received its 1.10 patch, adding in a couple more crash fixes and performance improvements.

Notably, this patch marks the start of Guerrilla slowing down on their HZD updates, so they can shift focus to work on the game's sequel, Horizon Forbidden West.

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Game Maker is an entry-level game development tool which has been used to create several indie megahits, including Undertale, Hyperlight Drifter, Heat Signature and Katana Zero. Since 2015, its developers YoYo Games have been owned by gambling software creator Playtech. There's been no official announcement that this has changed, but a report on Reuters states that Playtech have sold YoYo Games for "about $10 million".

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Like Omori before it, Ratropolis is another game we missed because it snuck out over Christmas. This is much like the rats I used to live with in an old house share, who snuck around every trap we laid down for so long they became like friends. Horrible, noisy friends who'd steal our pasta... Much like all housemates.

Ratropolis is also a roguelite tower defense citybuilding deckbuilding real-time strategy game, though. I've never met a housemate who can say the same.

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I love the interfaces in complex military simulations. Tiny bulbs, little switches hidden behind flaps, fuzzy polygons bleeping on a low-res display. I don't actually want to pilot real military vehicles, however, so HighFleet appeals to me a great deal. It's got the aesthetic of a military sim, but it's bent towards a physicsy, action-strategy game about piloting enormous flying boats above a "mysterious future Earth". There's a trailer and rough release date below.

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As if a 100-player murderparty weren't reason enough to fight, Fortnite is adding football to the mix. Epic Games today announced they're introducing football kits from 23 teams around the world, bringing the beautiful game's sporting, political, and religious rivalries to the video game. Also I guess you can just take pride in your team, if you want. Local teams represented include Celtic, Rangers, Man City, and West Ham, then worldwide they have teams everywhere from Germany to Australia. They're holding a 4v4 fortball tournament too.

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Microsoft have revealed the next load of games arriving on Xbox Game Pass for PC this month, and I think you Yakuza fans are going to be rather pleased. The Yakuza Remastered collection (containing Yakuzas 3, 4 and 5) will hit the subscription service on January 28th, along with Bloober Team's brand new horror The Medium. On top of that, Donut County, and RPS fave Desperados 3 are on the way too. Lovely stuff.

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Feature: A top notch SATA drive that's undermined by cheaper NVMe drives

Samsung 870 Evo review

For the past two years, Samsung's 860 Evo SSD has been the best SATA drive you can buy for your PC. Its random read and write times have been pretty much unmatched since it first came out in 2018 (indeed, only Samsung's 870 Qvo has managed to best it on write time), but despite still being best in class, Samsung are retiring it anyway and replacing it with the all-new 870 Evo.

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After starting out as a mod for Dota 2, Auto Chess led the brand new genre of auto-battlers to inspire devs including Valve and Riot, then spawned its own standalone game, and now it's coming all the way back round to the start with an Auto Chess MOBA. So its Dota-inspired characters will now star in a Dota-like game. Our industry is a marvel. But which new genre will begin as an Auto Chess MOBA mod?

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Feature: Speed demon

Nioh 2: The Complete Edition preview

I've logged many, many hours in Nioh 2 on the PS4, so I was excited to get hands on Nioh 2: The Complete Edition for PC, a preview build missing some technical features like HDR support and ultra wide resolutions that will be in the full build. It includes everything that's in the base version of the action-RPG, of course, alongside all three DLCs. But the real draw here are the PC-specific features, which are mostly visual.

Buttery-smooth framerate? Absolutely. Ultra Wide-Screen compatibility? Pshh, yeah, why not. 4K Ultra-HD support? I'm still not certain what that means, but heck yeah. It certainly makes it look extremely nice to play.

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