Heroes Of The Storm: How Spring Esports Is Shaping Up

Blizzard has announced the full details of its Heroes of the Storm [official site] Spring Global Championship with eight regional shindigs culminating in a Global Championship event in April. The various prize pools for all of this top $1m and the company will be rinsing and repeating for a Summer and Fall season as well.

I’ll put their more detailed breakdown below with prizes and regional partners and dates and things. I suspect that when the full details for the Spring Global Championship are announced it’ll explain more about how this all feeds into the next World Championship.

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Wot I Think – Homeworld: Deserts Of Kharak

Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak [official site] is a prequel to the legendary Homeworld space real-time strategy games, but this time – heresy! – set on land, as the Kushan race battle angry clans to reclaim ancient technologies found on the sandy planet they currently call home. While some of its developers (including studio boss and former Relic art lead Rob Cunningham) worked on the original games, this first began life as the unrelated ‘Hardware: Shipbreakers’, before morphing into the free to play multiplayer ‘Homeworld: Shipbreakers’ and then finally to the traditionally-sold, singleplayer and multiplayer package it is now. Deserts of Kharak has some bloody big boots to fill – can it possibly manage it?

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Best Fallout 4 Mods

Fallout 4 has been out for a few months now, which means a few months for the community to produce hundreds of excellent, essential and silly mods to enhance the game. We’ve sifted through all of them to select the current best mods for Fallout 4.

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Test Your Getaway Driving Skills In Free Game Berlin’82

“Cheese it!” shouts Jimmy Two Knees before he’s even through the car door, bundling in big hessian sacks marked ‘SWAG’. “It’s the rozzers!”

The sirens rise behind you but you don’t care. You’re ready for this. You’ve seen, well, not all of Jason Statham’s films but most of them definitely. You even kept watching Crank: High Voltage long after realising it was so much worse than the first. Anyway, he didn’t drive in that one much. But you’re ready! You hit the gas and away your car rockets. Then you try to pull a handbrake turn and crash into a wall and explode. Your score: 480. That’s how my early attempts went in free game Berlin’82 [official site].

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Oh: No Mortal Kombat X Alien DLC On PC

There was much confused rejoicing earlier this month at news that the honest-to-God Alien (and also Leatherface, but whatever) was becoming a fighter in Mortal Kombat X [official site], but now there is even more confused snarling. It turns out that only the konsole I’m so sorry, console versions of the game will be receiving the Kombat Pack 2 DLC which contains the new chaps. The PC will also be denied the Mortal Kombat XL bundle-o-pack. It’s an as-yet unexplained and perhaps unwise move from Warner, the publisher already accused of unduly mucking PC-folk around with that very messy Arkham Knight port.

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Wot I Think: Gemini – Heroes Reborn

A game based on one of the most consistently ridiculous and astonishingly dreadful TV shows ever made? How could I resist? Except, huh, something weird’s going on here. Gemini: Heroes Reborn [official site] isn’t… this isn’t entirely terrible. In fact, there are some really good ideas in here – far more than in the freshly cancelled series reboot after which it’s named and themed. What a confusing situation. Here’s wot I think:

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Evochron Legacy Blasts Off Into Sandbox Space

I’ve always been impressed that sandbox space sim series Evochron is mostly the work of one man, StarWraith’s Shawn Bower. Heck, I’m even more impressed now big names and big budgets have now returned to space sims as points of comparison. I’m awful at Evochron–always floundering and giving up in demos–but I’m glad it exists.

So hey, look, Evochron Legacy [official site] came out this week. It has a demo too.

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XCOM: Long War Team Making XCOM 2 Mods

Alec hasn’t been the same since he returned from the Long War. The celebrated XCOM mod turns the base game’s wee scrap into a gruelling war, chewing through your forces and your resolve with relentless difficulty. Some days we find him simply sitting in a chair by the window, staring out to sea, his bottom lip quivering.

The folks who made Long War are working on their own strategy game now but, also, have teamed up with Firaxis to make a few mods for XCOM 2 [official site].

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Have You Played… Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Physics-based comedy games are ten a penny these days but there’s nothing to compare with Psi-Ops, which is utterly hilarious purely by virtue of the fact that it’s not a comedy game. You can drag people around and throw them into bizarrely exposed machine-works using the power of your mind but this is serious business.

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Collaborative Physics Puzzler Dreii Coming In February

A physics puzzler with collaborative cross-platform multiplayer? Ooh do tell me more, good sir! Sorry. That’s a bit- I don’t know why I called you “good sir.” No, it’s- sorry. No, it’s okay. Shall we- yes, let’s. I’ll go first.

Dreii [official site] is a collaborative puzzler where colourful little avatars drag blocks around on physics tethers to build towers, a bit like Just Cause 3 but with no guns, anti-destruction, and gentler sounds. Lovely! It’s coming our way soon, on February 2nd.

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Paragon’s Very Cinematic Push Down Mid

Today is the sort of day where you have to triple check an article because you’re tired and you keep mis-typing Epic’s third-person MOBA Paragon [official site] as “Pragon” and that is No Good when you are trying to talk accurately about its latest video about a mid-lane push. I think I’ve been thinking about dragons too much this morning.

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Starbreeze Making Co-op FPS Based On F2P CrossFire

Starbreeze Studios, makers of the Riddick FPS and owners of Payday devs Overkill, have announced a new co-op FPS based on Smilegate’s F2P mega-hit CrossFire (pictured above). How big a hit? Up to six million players online at once big. I’m familiar with South Korean developers making free-to-play versions of western FPS–and still fascinated by Counter-Strike Nexon Zombies–but can’t think of many times it’s gone the other way. Fingers crossed their CrossFire embraces the original’s weirdness.

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Titanium White Terrors: Layers Of Fear Out In February

Where do all these haunted paintings come from? eBay’s full of the devils, but the listings only say they bought it at a car boot sale or found it in the loft of an aunt who died of spooking – they never identify the painter. Maybe Layers of Fear [official site] will be able to answer a few questions. It’s a first-person spooker set inside the spooky house of a painter whose membrane is compromised. Maybe he paints ’em all? We’ll find out, as after a stretch in Early Access Layers of Fear is heading for a full and proper release on February 16th.

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Wot I Think: The Westport Independent

The Westport Independent [official site], once a gamejam experiment, is now a full game. As it succinctly describes itself, it’s “a game about censorship, corruption and newspapers”. As the editor of a paper in a fictional post-war country in the mid-1940s, you must work out how you will approach your job under an increasingly fascist government. Does it successfully speak its mind, or might it need some heavy editing? Here’s wot I think:

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Wot I Think: Oxenfree

I came to play Oxenfree [official site] just after finishing a podcast series called The Message. The Message is essentially an eight-part radio play. Its central mystery involves a strange broadcast, possibly from outer space which seems to carry with it a curse. If you haven’t listened to it I’d recommend it.

The reason I’m bringing it up ahead of telling you anything about the game is that I feel like Oxenfree is actually closer to that kind of unnerving or slightly creepy radio play which is packed with subtle interpersonal stories than it is to other games I’ve played. I also think that part of why I enjoyed it so much was that I was treating it in that same way, letting the characters chatter and the story unfold where I might otherwise have become impatient.

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Paladins: “More Characters, Not Just A Lot Of Variation”

When I was out at Hi-Rez Studios earlier this month the developers gave a presentation about Paladins [official site]. At some point during the presentation CEO Erez Goren crashed the stage and joined in the Q&A (which then turned into an impromptu game dev meeting). As part of that I asked for a bit more information about how flexible the team see the in-game champions as being. The answer touches on character identity and how the players currently approach variation – they want more characters with narrower skillsets and not jacks of all trades.

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Rainbow Six Siege Operation Black Ice Operators Leak

Rainbow Six Siege [official site] is a great game, so I am eager for news of how it’ll be expanded in future. Eager enough to not care that these details of its next DLC, Operation Black Ice, are from a leak and therefore unconfirmed and maybe garbage. They look real, they taste real, so let’s give Reddit the benefit of the doubt and say that February 2nd will bring two new Operators called Frost and Buck.

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Far Cry Primal Trailer Confirms It’s A Far Cry Game

I don’t know much about Far Cry Primal [official site] beyond its stone age setting, but Adam did recently tell me that you use owls as binoculars in the game. That doesn’t mean you hold them up to your face and place light-refracting lenses in their mouths, but that you can maybe possess or become an owl. I don’t know. There’s a new trailer below though and there’s definitely an owl flying away from a feather-explosion in it.

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Pretty Pussycat Platforming In Shelter Spin-off

The Shelter games by Might and Delight have always looked gorgeous, but the prospect of me mothering idiot babies – even baby animals – sounds more like the pitch for a dire family movie than a plan for a pleasant afternoon. But I do adore that art! So I’m certainly interested in the Shelter 2 spin-off they announced today, an “adventure platformer” named Paws [Steam page]. Rather than care for a wee lynx, you play as one trying to find its way home. Have a look in this trailer:

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