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Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity

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Feature: Watch, watch, watch this vid, gently as it streams

Come watch RPS become streaming superstars at EGX 2018

[Update: The first day's streaming is done! But you can still watch us kissing the ground hard in Human Fall Flat in the video below.]

That rumbling sound you hear is half of Brighton packing its bags as Gamer Network decamps to Birmingham for EGX 2018. And the Rock, Paper, Shotgun Video Department will be at the show, too. We’ve decided to try our hand at ‘livestreaming’, which is basically video without safety nets. I’ve heard it’s quite popular these days and that someone called Ninja makes a billion pounds a minute from it. So even if we make fools of ourselves, we’ll at least be able to retire on all that delicious green. I can’t believe we didn’t get on this sooner. Anyway, read on for information on what we’re doing and when.

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Much of the Internet is awful, everyone agrees, though people disagree about exactly which parts are the bad ones. This becomes a problem when you need to venture into one of the bad places, perhaps to search a game's Steam forum for a solution to a problem. Oh no! Now you're wading through a swamp swarming with alligators cussing you to the nines when all you want is an .ini file tweak. Good news: Valve now plan to start actually moderating the forums they require Steam games to have, rather than leaving it all to devs. Next week, Valve's own moderation team will start checking out Steam Discussion posts reported by other posters and laying down the law. Though devs can decline Valve's help if they want?

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Red Dead Online has been announced by Rockstar (as if it was ever in doubt) and they say it'll be an "evolution" of the rootin' tootin' multiplayer in the first Red Dead Redemption. In other words, a big online version of the open world in Red Dead Redemption 2, where you can trot about on your pony, buy fashionable spurs, and get shot by ingrates and outlaws with terrifying old west names such as XxAnime4LifexX and SackOfShit1999. That sounds super. But all this is academic to us. Because Reddy Deddy 2 still hasn't been confirmed for PC, and we are likely facing a bit of a wait.

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Feature: Spawn in 60 seconds

Minit consumes your precious time in gleefully silly ways

Chances are you’ve caught wind of Minit between its initial release and the clamor for a Switch port. It’s a wee, wonderful, one-bit adventure where, thanks to a cursed blade, you die every 60 seconds. While it’s a romping hoot of a game, it also blatantly wastes your time. I mean that in a good way: Minit tosses away precious seconds with so many fun, sincere, and clever tactics that this shines as a pro, not a con.

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Super Pilot is classic Nintendo racer F-Zero (either X or GX is up for debate) with a level editor, and developers Dopagames don't care to hide that at all. Race around at a thousand miles an hour against dozens of bots, defy gravity, shoot off the track and explode in a cloud of flaming glory, and then build your own tracks to do it again on.

The first early access version of Super Pilot flew onto Steam faster than anyone could see yesterday (maybe they TAS'ed it?), but an older demo build has been lurking around on Itch for a while. Give it a spin, or check out the launch trailer below.

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Take XCOM's squad combat, mash it up with a post-apocalyptic roguelike, add a dash of FTL and you've got something that looks a lot like HOF Studios's Depth Of Extinction. Due for launch "soon" - possibly even this month - this one has flown just under my radar. Not too surprising, given that it's set partially underwater. Maybe we need to install sonar here, too? Players lead a ship full of high-tech mercenaries in a flooded world, raiding surface outposts and undersea cities for fun and profit. Fancy yourself as a terror from the deep? Check out the launch trailer below.

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Magic: The Gathering might be the great granddaddy of card-battlers, but it's still cool, dammit - you'll be able to see for yourself when Magic: The Gathering Arena enters open beta next week. You kids may have your Hearthstones, your Eternals and even your Slay The Spires, but there's still nothing quite like passively aggressing someone to death with an all-blue shutdown deck. The free-to-play CCG launches into open beta on September 27th. Below, a bizarre launch trailer featuring Danny Trejo, who apparently knows a thing or two about elves.

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Little publisher Dangen Entertainment landed at BitSummit in Tokyo yesterday with a swarm of exciting trailers in tow. Among their lineup at the Japanese event was the freshly announced Minoria (latest from the creators of the excellent Momodora series) and Thunder Force-inspired shmup Devil Engine.

They also had trailers for speedy platformer Renaine and its sizzling soundtrack, NES-styled fantasy adventure Astalon: Tears Of The Earth plus a new look at tribute brawler The TakeOver. Check out all of these below, and crank up your volume - there's some good tunes.

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Continuing to hoover up every neglected video game series that's remembered half-fondly, THQ Nordic today announced they're buying the rights to horror series Alone In The Dark and Eugen's real-time strategy 'em up Act Of War. These two had been owned by The Creature Wearing The Skin Of Atari - who largely seem poor carers for old series, while The Creature Wearing The Skin Of THQ are actually quite decent. THQ Nordic haven't formally confirmed new sequels in either series, to be clear, but they do say they'll think about it.

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Are you nostalgic for The Bard's Tale? I certainly played them back between 1985 and 1988, but being under 10, that was a very long time ago. I don't really remember them with any special degree of affection. And I'm certainly free of the peculiar reverence of those for whom such cows are too sacred to criticise even the decades-later follow-ups (subtweet). What I've been playing for the last couple of days is a bit of a crap RPG with some nice puzzles, and a decent combat system. And if that's faint enough praise to damn The Bard's Tale IV, I've done my job already.

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Helicopters! And just like that, you can hear Wagner already, right? As of today's big update - "The Valkyries" - they're now in free-to-play vehicular combat sim War Thunder, joining a legion of tanks, a swarm of planes and a slowly growing bathtub of boats. Five choppers (and a fistful of variants) are now available to fly, though access to them is limited at present.

While helicopters are the headline feature of update 1.81, they're currently in beta testing, accessible only if you buy a premium helicopter pack or complete objectives in-game to earn your way in. Thankfully, there's plenty left for the rest of us, including a sack of tanks, a couple planes, and a bushel of maps. Check out the patch notes here, or the ten minute update trailer below.

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"You may have won the battle," cries an unusually eloquent trash-talker on the other team, "but you haven't won the war!" In Rising Storm 2: Vietnam, his anachronistic cussing-out may now actually be correct.

A free update to the first-person shooter today added the new 'Multiplayer Campaign' mode, where 64 players fight across multiple maps and 11 years of the Vietnam War, with new factions and equipment coming in and out as history repeats. All these battles fuel a campaign map of the war, where victory is achieved by getting enough points or controlling every region. Get in and channel Charles de Gaulle now before losers go back to just calling you a dingus, or however it is the youth cuss today.

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I’m being stalked by six-legged space demons, I’m on the run from the fantasy police, and my chosen deity is being slowed squeezed to death by a spectral tree, but my biggest problem in Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a talking squirrel.

Not just any talking squirrel. Sir Lora is — he says — a preeminent wizard, in addition to being the target of an order of fluffy animal knights hell-bent on hastening the end of the world with the coming of the “Great Acorn.” Lora certainly stands out, riding a skeletal cat and talking in a plummy accent, commenting occasionally (and derisively) on my quest to save the world. Sadly, for what he’s gained in arcane knowledge, he’s lost in common sense: Sir Lora is an absolute liability in dangerous situations.

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Feature: Pumping it to the max, literally

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080Ti review-in-progress: A true 4K monster card

For the three of you whose goal in life has only ever been to play games on max settings at 4K with nary a drop in frame rate at 60fps, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080Ti is a dream come true. A rather expensive £1049 / $1150 dream, all told, but a dream nonetheless.

For this 4K monster beast is by far the best graphics card I've ever tested, and offers a compelling upgrade over Nvidia's previous 4K top dog, the GeForce GTX 1080Ti - and that's before you start taking into account all the other new clever bits and bobs Nvidia's Turing GPU can do to potentially boost performance even further. If the idea of playing games at 4K at max settings on a single GPU is an appealing one to you, the RTX 2080Ti could well be the GPU for you.

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If you've not already had (and caused) your fill of tragedy and disaster in Frostpunk, you might want to check out the fate of another doomed settlement in the apocalyptic survival manage 'em up with a new free expansion released today. Set before Frostpunk's main campaign, 'The Fall Of Winterhome' explores a place you'll have heard of--and possibly visited--during that, the fallen/exploded town of Winterhome. Only here it hasn't quite fallen just yet. I'm sure you can fix that gap in the continuity, you and your bright ideas about child labour. Come meet the new home you're about to muff up.

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Feature: Just like old times

The Gardens Between review

The Gardens Between is all about reminiscing. It plays like two friends talking about all the adventures they've had, with the conversation flowing as they remember details and go back over stories that’ve grown with the telling. “Do you remember...?” it seems to say. “Oh yes, but before that-!” “And of course there was the bit where-!”

This is not a feeling that comes from the words used – because there are none. Instead, it stems from the gentle back and forth rhythm of the time-manipulation puzzles that make up each level of the game.

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Feature: Hold your tongue

Have You Played… Rayman 2: The Great Escape?

I'll always remember Rayman 2: The Great Escape as a deeply strange alien world. Anyone could be around the next corner, from a friendly sea monster who'd let you water-ski on them to a terrifying robo-pirate (I was only little). All of them, though, would mutter away in subtitled gibberish I deemed integral to their alienness.

I just found out the PlayStation version gave everyone English voices. WTF.

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Feature: The frames, they are too great

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 review-in-progress: Too much power for a Core i5 PC

This time tomorrow, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 will have finally arrived. There's been a lot of fanfare around its quite nifty ray-tracing tech, not to mention all the other cool things Nvidia's Turing cards can do, but is it really the best graphics card of all time? At the moment, it's hard to say - outside of a couple of demos, there aren't actually any games that support ray-tracing or Nvidia's fancy AI-drive DLSS tech yet, so you'll have to wait a little bit longer before I can give a proper verdict on a) whether these features are actually any good and b) how they affect the card's performance. Square Enix have yet to patch in the RTX update for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, for instance, and Final Fantasy XV is still awaiting its DLSS update.

I'll be adding some thoughts about those aforementioned demos to this review-in-progress early next week, but today I thought I'd focus on the one thing everyone's been clamouring to hear about ever since the RTX 2080 was first announced at Gamescom. How fast is it, how much better is it than the GTX 1080, and is it really worth spending  

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Feature: Not Messi

FIFA 19 review

For a series that’s been running for over 20 years, it’s no minor statement to say that the latest iteration has brought back the fun. You already know how enormous the series is, you are likely aware of how much it’s become “Sky Sports Presents FIFA” over the years, and you certainly know how much of a heaving beast it is in terms of #content. But what you won’t know yet is just how phenomenal FIFA 19 is, and that’s why you’re reading this review. Thank you.

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Subserial Network came out as part of June's Humble Bundle, and again on Itch nearly two weeks ago, but we forgot to tell you and it sounds fascinating so I'm telling you about it now. It's set in a post-human society that's hung up on hominids, where robo-citizens have the means to upload their consciousness to the internet - but that's frowned on. By which I mean: the government will delete you.

The fronds of the true digital revolution are starting to poke through however, and you've been dispatched to administer some algorithmic weed-killer via chat rooms. The game is a synthesis of sorts, bringing in elements from Aether Interactive's previous AI-murderer Local Host, and Arc Symphony, where you lurk on a forum devoted to a fictional JRPG. Brendy liked 'em both.

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Matthew Broderick simulator Exapunks got a sizeable update yesterday, adding nine more puzzles to the code scribbling hack ‘em up. Developers Zachtronics are calling this a bonus campaign, since it focuses not on the AI pal who features in the main story, but on the hacker pals who appear in a chatroom between levels. In short, you’ll be helping your hackmates do dodgy stuff. “Like NthDimension getting his driver’s license,” says Zach Barth of Zachtronics, “and hydroponix looking for the truth about the Roswell UFO crash.” That one involves hacking the Department of Defense, naturally.

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Big numbers, big monsters, big dungeons and big anime... character sprites. Labyrinth Of Refrain: Coven Of Dusk is exactly what you'd expect from Disgaea studio Nippon Ichi Software taking on the Wizardry-styled dungeon crawler genre. It's an RPG about excess - huge parties of player-made characters with honking great stat sheets, exploring a massive grid-based dungeon in classic first-person style. All with even less artistic restraint than usual - unlike the Disgaea series, this one carries a 'Mature' rating in America. Below, an extremely anime launch trailer.

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Capcom Game Studio Vancouver - the team behind Dead Rising 2, 3 and 4 - is no more. Confirmed in a statement to Kotaku, the Canadian outfit formerly known as Blue Castle Games is closing their doors today after a series of cancellations. While "a skeleton crew" will remain at the company until January, a total of 158 will lose their jobs.

The writing has been on the wall for a while now. Back in February, Capcom Vancouver shed a third of its staff, along with cancelling a yet-unannounced project in production, but it seemed like Capcom still had plans for the studio. Apparently not, and I wish everyone at the shuttered studio the best of luck.

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Shoot guns, make cash, buy clothes, look fabulous, repeat. That's Resonance Of Fate in a nutshell, minus its bizarre and creative combat, puzzle-based world exploration and strange setting. Tri-Ace's gunslinging dieselpunk RPG never really caught on when it first launched on consoles in 2010, but I reckon its mix of "Valkyria Chronicles and a John Woo movie" is worth a second look.

Previously hinted at by a German ratings board entry, Tri-Ace have now released a trailer for the PC remaster, along with an October 18th release date and $35 price tag. Check it out below.

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Distance's jet-powered flying cars have finally landed, only slightly singed by lasers as the racer escapes early access today. Nearly six years after a successful Kickstarter and almost four in early access, developers Refract have launched version 1.0 of their deathtrap-filled obstacle course - a lethal neon world that pulses to the beat.

Today's release includes two new story driven "Adventure" campaigns (including a return to the city from Nitronic Rush, Distance's student project predecessor), a pile of user-made tracks, random map generation, a powerful editor and VR support. Check out the launch trailer's laser light show below.

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Looking at screenshots of The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep, it seems a crying shame that it's not a game about a metal band putting on a rockin' good show to get the mosh pit fired up. Sadly, the game inXile Entertainment released today is just an olde schoole turn-based RPG - and one that our John tells me is a bit bum. He'll have more to say about it tomorrow but for now, here's word that it's out. Given that thousands of folks chipped in a combined $1.5 million during its 2015 Kickstarter campaign, I assume at least some of you do want turn-based fantasy fisticuffs more than big doomy beats.

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Feature: Thicker than water

Premature Evaluation – Dying Light: Bad Blood

The sound of an explosion and a huge burst of flame sends me sprinting for cover. The attack wasn’t directed at me, it turns out. One of my fellow survivors had walked into a hive of zombies and he was chargrilling them. I stay hidden behind a van and watch him duke it out. We’re both after the same thing: blood samples that will allow us to level up. He takes out the boss and, exhausted and bruised, proceeds to collect his samples. That’s when I throw my own molotov cocktail and leap in with my electrified axe. “I’m so sneaky and also handsome,” I think to myself as I pick his corpse clean and grab the samples for myself. I’m still feeling pretty smug when I leave the hive. Unfortunately I don’t notice the molotov cocktail hurtling towards me.

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Feature: Back to school

Have You Played… Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy?

This is one of the less celebrated of the classic Star Wars games (now decreed to be non-canonical by the House of Mouse). Don't get me wrong; it's no KotOR or Jedi Outcast, but there's a lot to like under the hood of Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. Or, possibly, inside the tauntaun.

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Sukeban Games are returning to the cyberpunk world of bartending visual novel RPG doodad VA-11 HALL-A [god, please call it Valhalla -common sense ed.] with a sequel named N1RV ANN-A [oh for... I've had enough -former ed.] due in 2020. We'll play a new bartender behind a new bar in a new city, listening to new people's woes while mixing them drinks that will surely will bring only comfort and no further woes at all nuh uh. Meet some of the weirdos we'll be serving in the announcement trailer below.

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Feature: The sun rises

The best Japanese games to play on PC

After spending much of this decade catching up with the rest of the world, the Japanese games industry is truly back, and PC gamers have been reaping the rewards of this renaissance. It’s taken time for Japanese developers and publishers to get on board, especially with consoles and smartphones remaining the dominant gaming platforms in their native country. But as classic console franchises finally make their Steam debuts, with better-late-than-never ports coming with full-fat optimisation options to give you the definitive experience, there really has been never a better time to be a Japanese-loving PC player.

As the Tokyo Game Show takes place this week, here’s 10 of the best and most significant Japanese games you need installed, whether it’s to immerse yourself in world-class game design, get a taste of classic console gaming history or Japanese culture, or, yes, if you just like the look of anime.

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