Nick Diamon

Warcraft 3 is looking fine on modern widescreens

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Blizzard is updating Warcraft 3. Patch 1.29 is being tested now, and once it’s released to the general audience, the classic real-time strategy game will finally have widescreen support for modern resolutions. Along with widescreen options, Blizzard is giving the game a blance pass, increasing the player count in lobbies to 24, and improving the game’s editor. For the Horde!

To celebrate, Blizzard is sponsoring a special tournament. The Warcraft 3 Invitational will be broadcast on Twitch on February 27th to the 28th. It will feature old-school Warcraft 3 champs as well as new esports stars clicking madly on peasants and peons.

The hunt for nudity in Assassin’s Creed Origin’s Discovery Tour

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The violence-free “edutainment” Discovery Tour feature for Assassin’s Creed Origin is out now. It opens up the whole game map for exploration, disables any conflicts like angry Roman soldiers or crocodiles, and presents 75 walking tours of virtual Egypt. But there’s a problem. Sharp-eyed porn hounds have noticed that all the game’s statuary have their naughty bits covered with seashells in this mode. Scallops everywhere! “How can you censor art boobies in a piece of software meant for classrooms?” countless nerds ask. Don’t fret. There is still brazen nudity in paintings and wall decorations. Also, there may be a rock formation in Giza that looks a bit like a wang if you squint hard enough.

Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt is a $19.99 standalone title available for PCs, but owners of Assassin’s Creed Origins get it for free as an update to their game.

Hey, hey, you, you will play Burnout Paradise again

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Electronic Arts has announced Burnout Paradise Remastered. It’s an all-in-one hi-def 4K version of Burnout Paradise for the newest generation of consoles. You can get all the vehicular assaults, billboard smashing, Avril Lavigne, and Guns N’ Roses you can handle from a time when a dynamic in-game online score chase in an open-world format was an amazing new idea.

Burnout Paradise Remastered will launch on March 16th.

Here’s a little girl power for Total War: Rome 2

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Look out, legions! It’s going to be girls night out in Total War: Rome 2’s next DLC. The Desert Kingdoms Culture Pack features the Kush, Saba, Nabatea, and Masaesyli factions, each with new units and cultural traits. Teuta and Cleopatra join the game as new leaders free for everyone’s use. In fact, the free portion of the update enhances women’s roles throughout the game. There are now female generals in some factions, women can wield political influence, and marriage now has wider political ramifications. Shout out gals!

Tomb Raider joins the Barbie world

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Throughout Barbie’s 59-year existence she’s been in all manner of inspirational careers. Barbie was an astronaut, a member of Congress, a McDonald’s worker, Supergirl, an airline pilot, a soldier, a CEO, riveter, welder, NASCAR driver and now, she can add raider of tombs to her resume. Tomb Raider Barbie is the latest variant of the popular doll from Mattel. She comes with a climbing pickaxe, adventure map, and one of the newer, less unrealistic body proportions that the toy company introduced in 2016. It’s less a tie-in to the game series and more about the March movie release of the Tomb Raider reboot starring Alicia Vikander in the title role. Vikander recently joked to BBC’s Graham Norton that “My breasts are not as pointy as the first Lara” referring to the original video game character.

The Evil Within 2 takes on a whole new dimension

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Bethesda and Tango Gameworks have added an official first-person mode to The Evil Within 2. Originally discovered by modders as a limited sequence that was discarded from the published game, the entirety of The Evil Within 2 can now be experienced from behind the eyes of the main character.

The new mode is a free update on all platforms and is even available in the demo.

Roll them bones in Elder Scrolls Online

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The Dragon Bones DLC and Update 17 is now live for the PC version of The Elder Scrolls online. Dragon Bones includes a quest story that culminates in a fight with a skeletal dragon along with the usual extras like a couple of dungeons, cosmetic accessories, pets, and mounts for 1500 funny money bits or about $15 in real-world cash. If bony giant lizards are your thing, then this DLC should be pleasing, although I think Zenimax Online really whiffed making an “Elder Bones” pun somewhere in here.

It’s Update 17 that should be of interest to everyone. This free base game update comes with an overhaul of combat, a home storage system, an outfit feature, and a sort of dynamic Skills Advisor to help guide players when leveling up and allocating character points. This could be huge because one of the primary obstacles for new players is the complicated skills system that asks them to choose where to allocate precious points without much in-game information. It’s been a longstanding criticism of the game, in fact, one could say it was an elder bone to pick. (Worth it!)

Dragon Bones and Update 17 will be available for the console versions of The Elder Scrolls Online on February 27th.

Guess which electric rolling thunder character is returning to Street Fighter

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Blanka, everyone’s favorite South American electric-powered combatant, is coming to Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition. Conspicuously absent since Street Fighter IV, Blanka’s return to the series marks the second installment of the Season 3 Character Pass which will also adds five other, lesser characters to the game over the next few months. Blanka is green, barrel rolls into opponents, and has amazing hair. They could rename the game Blanka Fighter and I’d be okay with that.

Blanka launches onto Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition on February 20th.

The Sims 4 finally adds more options for darker skin

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The latest update to The Sims 4 has improved the game’s creation tools by adding ten darker skin tones and a new curly hairdo. The lack of options for darker sims has been a sore spot for some players since the game’s launch a bit over three years ago. Anything other than a charcoal grey or a slightly darker tan wasn’t really possible without mods. Kotaku points out that there are some annoyances like texture inconsistencies and errors, but more inclusive options for a game built around simulating social interactions is always good.

In other Sim-related news, the franchise is 18 years old! There’s a joke there somewhere, but I don’t think it’s possible to connect the dots without opening a can of sim-worms.

Metro Exodus may ruin the bullet economy

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One of the hallmarks of the Metro series of first-person shooter games, besides their distinctive Russian flavor, is the fact that firearm ammunition is money. In the nuclear wasteland of Metro, bullets are buying power as well as monster deterrent. It makes sense for the narrative, and it creates tension in gameplay. Spend too many rounds on mutant spiders and you may not be able to afford to restock or upgrade your kit.

Metro Exodus, coming later this year from 4A Games and Deep Silver, is doing away with this unique mechanic. In Game Informer’s preview, they note that it’s one of many changes to the Metro formula. Instead of hoarding and bartering with ammo, players will need to scavenge junk and craft it into parts at a workstation Fallout 4 style. It can lose the bullet economy, but Exodus better keep the underground brothels.

Rainbow Six Siege succumbs to the inevitable zombie mode

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It was only a matter of time before Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege added a co-op zombie battle mode. Outbreak, a special event running from March 6th to April 3rd, is that addition. Set in new, more linear, maps in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, the mode features “infected” (totally not zombies) that have special abilities like exploding, hulking out, and bursting through walls. It’s basically like every other zombie mode you’ve already seen, but with the new school Rainbow Six flavor.

Outbreak is a free addition that will be staged to the game on February 20th, but remember, the fun begins on March 6th.

‘Rubbing is racing’ does not always apply in iRacing

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The subscription racing sim iRacing has suspended professional race car driver, Scott Speed, from playing their game. Speed, who gained fame in 2005 for becoming the first American to race full-time in Formula 1 since Michael Andretti left the circuit in 1993, has been a fixture of the iRacing community for years. While originally a positive influence on the virtual racing scene, (even consulting for the developers on the sim) Speed had gained a reputation in recent months as a bad online opponent. Multiple accusations with video evidence emerged showing Speed purposefully crashing into other cars. A big no-no for the serious sim racing crowd. Although Scott accepted the punishment, he did make a distinction between the real world and the virtual.

“This is not real life, it’s a game. The penalty for my action if protested against, is a suspension, which I accept and received. I personally wouldn’t feel like a man protesting a guy who I just accidentally wrecked out of the lead for returning the favor, but that’s me, and I understand that thinking is not treating iRacing with the appropriate amount of respect and is wrong. For that I sincerely apologize.”

Afterwards, Scott Speed announced his intention to sell his gaming gear and return to professional racing. The digital tracks of iRacing are safe once again!

It Lurks Below combines Diablo’s grind with Terraria’s digging

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It Lurks Below is another upcoming indie pixel-art game which at first glance may elicit more ho-hums than genuine excitement. Diablo loot, monsters, and leveling plus the gameplay of Terraria? Sounds decent. Before you shrug, the developer Graybeard Games is basically just David Brevik. Before he took a liking to Terraria and decided he wanted more ARPG mechanics in that style game, he was the head of Blizzard North and Gazillion Entertainment. This is a guy that knows a little something about making an addictive experience based on procedurally generated assets.

There’s no release date for It Lurks Below, but Brevik told Polygon that he plans on launching it on PC this year.

A grave injustice has been corrected in competitive Dragster

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Todd Rogers’ infamous world record 5.51 second run in the Atari 2600 game Dragster has been revoked after it was proven to be an impossible feat. Literally impossible without cheating thanks to analysis of the game software. Twin Galaxies’ decision to invalidate the record from 1982 marks the end of what was until recently the longest held official video game record. Polygon has a comprehensive breakdown of the years-long drama that lead to the decision. It’s a stunning reversal for the world of old-school video game competition, because Rogers held multiple high scores including, but not limited to, Barnstorming, Wabbit, and Centipede, all of which were disputed and stricken from the record due to the evidence of his deceptions.

The new official record time for Dragster is 5.57 seconds, which is held by four people and represents the minimum time allowed by the software. Time to get practicing on Dragster if you want to join the scoreboard!

This is how I spent an hour in Sea of Thieves

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This is the brig. It’s the jail in a naval vessel, used to hold prisoners like enemy combatants or disobedient sailors. In Microsoft’s Sea of Thieves, it’s an option that a ship’s crew can use to isolate troublemakers. It can also be used to troll players. If the ship votes to put you in the brig, you’ll pop behind bars and you’ll be stuck there until the crew decides to let you out or you log out and try a different group.

On a real ship, you’d appear before the captain and he’d snarl for his bosun to toss you in the brig. In Sea of Thieves, you just appear in the cell. Unlike just about every other activity in Sea of Thieves, there are no instructions on how to be a prisoner. There is no minigame. You are just trapped.

That’s how I wound up spending an hour in the brig during this past weekend’s beta. I fumbled around thinking there was some puzzle or activity I had to complete to break out, but that wasn’t the case at all. My sin was being a random swabbie instead of one of the cool kids.