If you've not been following PC games goings-on across the week, catch up on some of the big stories quick in the first of our Weekly News Digest. I've slipped in a few things we haven't already posted about, and do also read The Updates Update for some of the week's notable patches and updates.
This week brought a load of announcements from Gamescom, everything from new games to delays, but it's not all Gamescom.
We've heard mutterings of an officially sanctioned version of Steam for China for ages, and this week got a few concrete details. The separate store, run with local partner Perfect World, looks like it'll be heavily curated with only 40 games at launch. Yeah, don't go expecting censored games like Devotion on it.
Amplitude, the studio behind Endless Legend and Endless Space, will next year take on human history with a 4X invading Civilization's territory. I'm well up for this.
"After extensively reviewing these issues, we can confidently state that gender discrimination (in pay or promotion), sexual harassment, and retaliation are not systemic issues at Riot," the company had the gall to say. I remain frustrated by Riot pretending that the company values they wrote on their website were somehow more real than the values demonstrated and felt by employees working there.
A sequel to the serious-yet-somehow-daft space program simulator will blast off in spring 2020. It'll bring multiplayer, interstellar travel to new systems, space colonies, and a little polish.
Come 2020, we'll be mired in snow too. And in the game.
To early access. For goodness knows how long. The wait continues...!
Our Matthew played a bit out at Gamescom too:
Modern Wolf announced their existence to the world this week, claiming they're deeply invested in ethical development practices. They offer some encouraging answers to some of problems facing developers these days, though at this point it is just talk. Whether or not they live up to their stated ideals, it is probably still good to have yet more of the industry talking openly about these issues.
The grand finals of Valve's huge tournament, which has a $34 million (£28m) prize pool, will be on Sunday morning for UK readers and may be settled by the time America awakes. Valve have also used this to announce the next two heroes. I haven't followed this year's competition and apparently I've missed some ludicrous moments.
One thing we did miss in all the Gamescom noise was that Age Of Empires: Definitive Edition has escaped the bonds of the Microsoft Store and arrived on Steam. Seeing as people actually use this store, its flaws and bugs have been instantly exposed in hundreds of player reviews. Oh dear. AoE: DE is now covered by the PC Xbox Games Pass subscription thing too.
Microsoft also announced that Age Of Empires II: Definitive Edition will launch on November 14th. This time, the Steam launch will come alongside the Microsoft Store one. Good.
Speaking of exclusivity, Supergiant are starting to shout about their mythological roguelikelike Hades getting a Steam release on December 10th. It's been exclusive to the Epic Games Store since December 2018 as one of the very first games Epic bought up. Three months is a whole lot of advance notice for the Steam release but I bet they weren't half sick of people asking.
Developers Respawn conceded they "broke [their] promise" of trying to "do monetisation in a way that felt fair" with a recent in-game event's paid cosmetic loot boxes, and vowed to do better. After sensibly pointing out that it sucks when people on the Internet are dickheads to them, some Respawners got snared in silly Reddit arguments and name-calling last week. A few games blogs stoked the fires with irresponsible reporting of that too. This mess continued this week when Respawn CEO Vince Zampella issued a public apology which fell short. A poor showing from many people here.
I didn't post about this because it's minor on the scale of gaming's deep-seated problems and, y'know, it's not the biggest surprise coming from a studio making a Duke Nukem fan game. But you might want to know, and now you do.
Dice have scrapped the FPS's planned 5v5 competitive mode. "Not creating this mode was a tough decision, but vital for us to more quickly reach our bug-crushing and content goals," they say. The next of those content goals is two new infantry-only maps, Provence and Lofoten Islands, arriving in update 4.4. Operation Underground, a remake of ye olde Operation Metro map from BF3, will follow in update 4.6.
In case you missed this latest freebie before, hey, it's good.