Nick Diamon

A nine year old promise for StarCraft II finally made good

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StarCraft II will soon have an in-game marketplace to buy and sell user-made maps. This was a feature shown prior to the release of the original Wings of Liberty installment, but was deemed not ready for public use. Here we are, nine years later, and we’re finally getting the Premium Arcade in the game’s 4.3 update. Like other stores for user-made videogame content, the items sold will be curated by the developers. The initial offering will be the “high-quality premium” maps ARK Star and Direct Strike. Each will cost $4.99 and a portion of the sale will go to the respective creators.

StarCraft II’s Arcade features thousands of user-made maps and mods for free already. It is unknown how many of those authors have been contacted to work with Blizzard on the new marketplace.

The skate parks of death are going to look weird in the next Doom movie

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There’s a new Doom movie in the works. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is too busy making better paying video game films to repeat his performance as Sarge from 2005’s schlocky low-budget Doom movie from Universal Pictures, so this time around we’ll get Nina Bergman in a shlocky low-budget Doom movie from Universal 1440 Entertainment. That’s NBC/Universal’s label specializing in “non-theatrical productions directly for distribution” meaning we can expect the movie to come out on some streaming service or maybe released as web episodes someday. Universal has not said who the director or writer of the movie will be, but they’ll be in Bulgaria to begin production soon!

Coincidentally, Dwayne Johnson recently had a good-natured exchange about his star turn in that 2005 flick while celebrating Rampage’s success:

TheRock: Wow! Very cool RAMPAGE news! Not pointing to the scoreboard yet, but it seems we may have finally broken the dreaded video game curse. And remember, I starred in the stinker “Doom” so I have lived thy curse

DOOM: Replying to @TheRock – Dwayne.

Read about our assessment of Doom’s combat arena skate parks of death here.

Here’s your chance to buy another edition of Grand Theft Auto V

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Rockstar Games has announced Grand Theft Auto V: Premium Online Edition. It’s the same game that everyone has been playing since 2013, with all the free online updates, plus the Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack which gives new GTA Online players a boost of in-game money, vehicles, clothing, and property. You’ll be almost ready to battle the people that have been playing the game and amassing their criminal loot for almost five years.

Cities Skylines heard you want a theme park builder in your city builder

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Parklife, the next DLC expansion for Cities Skylines, is like a miniature theme park tycoon game nestled in the middle of your sandbox city builder. Zone new park districts and Parklife will allow players to designate tourists’ sightseeing paths with stops at nearby attractions. Plop down some rides or points of interest, set pricing, and let those rubes spend their cash in your tourist trap. There’s no ride designing, so we wont get any Skylines versions of Mr. Bones’ Wild Ride, but we can always build the most unpleasant and dysfunctional cities possible to exercise our sadistic sides.

Cities Skylines Parklife will launch on May 24th.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 might have Battle Royale, and no single player campaign

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There may be no traditional single player story campaign in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Polygon, Kotaku, and CharlieIntel cite their own sources for these reports stating that publisher Activision halted development on the usual set piece extravaganza of celebrity likenesses and explosions in favor of more multiplayer modes, with rumors pointing to some version of Battle Royale filling out the package. These sources named Raven Software as the primary developer of this Call of Duty’s Battle Royale gameplay. Raven is the studio behind Call of Duty Online available in China which does offer a Battle Royale mode.

Earlier rumors had stated that like Infinite Warfare, this next Call of Duty might offer an HD remake of an earlier game in the franchise as an incentive – in this case, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. That rumor’s detail, that the Modern Warfare 2 remaster would not have a multiplayer component, now makes a lot of sense in light of this new information.

Google’s Semantris is associated with addictive

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Google has a new time-waster based on word association. Semantris, throws words at you and scores the speed and accuracy of your responses. (Accuracy as defined by popularity in the database.) For example, “mountain” in response to “lion” will get you beaucoup points, but “MGM” won’t score well at all because most people wouldn’t think about Leo, the poor MGM Studio’s mascot.

By playing, you’re becoming part of Google’s vast machine-learning system, but we’re all invested anyway. Besides, there’s a score to chase!

Will Star Wars Battlefront II include the Yub Nub song with its ewoks?

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Ewoks, those guerilla warfare teddy bears from Return of the Jedi, will soon be playable in Star Wars Battlefront II. The upcoming Night on Endor update features an Ewok Hunt mode that appears to be a Star Wars riff on the popular “infection” multiplayer versus modes in other games. Ewoks hunt stormtroopers using their woodland weapons, and each stormtrooper killed turns into another ewok hunter. Flip enough stormtroopers, and the ewoks win, allowing them to rock out on some helmet drums and dancing.

The Night on Endor update will also bring the long-awaited cosmetic skins for regular troopers and officers. Here comes the alien heads for rebels and a rainbow of stripe options for stormtroopers.

Ghost Recon Wildlands lets Sam Fisher say goodbye to a friendly rival

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Splinter Cell’s Sam Fisher is in Ghost Recon Wildlands. It’s a free one-and-done special mission that you can play solo or cooperatively that tasks the Ghosts with assisting Sam while he infiltrates and neutralizes a threat in virtual Bolivia. It’s okay as these sorts of things go. If you played the Predator special operation, you’ll know what to expect.

This mission marks the return of Michael Ironside to the Sam Fisher role. If you’re a fan of the gravelly low rumble that Ironside has made his trademark, then you’ll be in heaven here. Hearing him use that bass to say a sly goodbye to a fellow videogame badass is worth more than any unlockable cosmetic tchotchke you can get as a reward for completing the quest.

Grand Theft Auto IV just won’t be the same without New York Groove

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Grand Theft Auto IV’s ten-year anniversary is coming up. On April 26th, the Niko Bellic crime drama marks its decade of Liberty City mayhem by quietly losing some of its licensed music. Kotaku notes that similar soundtrack losses have occurred for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Unfortunately, the tracks that will be yanked have yet to be specified, but it’s likely your favorite song will be one of them because that’s life in the nitty gritty city.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 on consoles will be a fiddly player’s dream

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Using thumbsticks and selection wheels to combine crafting ingredients, resolve dialogue puzzles, and conduct pixel-accurate tactical battles? There’s an audience for that. The mostly excellent Divinity: Original Sin 2 from Larian Studios is coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in August.

The original Divinity: Original Sin was upgraded to an “enhanced edition” for its console release in 2015, adding full voicework for all characters, controller support, and a host of tweaks. The current sequel on PC already has fully voiced characters, controller support, and a few patches worth of enhancements. It remains to be seen what Larian can add to the game.

Ghost Recon Wildlands is getting another year of support

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Over 10 million people have played Ghost Recon Wildlands according to Ubisoft. That’s a lot of open-world shooty drone janky physics driving tomfoolery. The game’s community is healthy enough that the developer is giving it a second year of updates. Starting April 10th, this additional year of support begins with the first of four free special operations packages. Sabotage brings a new mode and five maps for the player-vs-player Ghost War, a new multiplayer class, and a campaign mission. The free update will also add the ability to use your unlocked cosmetic items on your single player AI teammates. Time to dress them to look like the chatty idiots they are!

If you desire more cosmetic junk (I can’t imagine anyone actually needing more than what you can get in the basic game for free) Ubisoft will be offering a Year 2 pass for $30 that comes with eight loot crates and early access to new Ghost War classes. Semper crate!

The Steam Machine is quietly dying

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Do you remember Steam Machines? The high-concept idea first floated by Valve in 2012 was built around an affordable semi-standardized computer running a Linux-based ValveOS which would give customers an easier entry into PC gaming. It was also meant to be a sort of bulwark against what some in the industry saw as over-aggressive attempts by Microsoft to turn Windows into a walled software garden cutting Steam out of the future.

Steam Machines launched in 2015 as offerings from various hardware manufacturers. Along with the Steam Controller amd the Steam Link, some pundits saw a potential Valve end-run around Microsoft. Alas, it was not to be. Muddled messaging, controversial pricing, and a campaign that never overcame the inertia of the market hobbled the effort before it ever really began.

Valve has quietly taken the Steam Machines page from the front of the store client, and they’ve removed the listing under the hardware dropdown. Although you can get to the page via a direct link, potential buyers without may never find it on their own. A Steam death sentence for sure.

The kicker is that the catalog alteration may have occurred on March 20th. It took the fansite, Gaming on Linux to notice the change a week later! A sad indicator of just how few people cared.

Dying Light refuses to die

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Techland continues Dying Light’s year of free add-on content with the fourth and fifth installments. Drop 4 is a Prison Heist game mode set in a new penitentiary location. Players must break into Harran prison and get in the armory in solo or co-op modes while fending off hordes of undead. Drop 5 is the addition of a new wandering mini-boss named Sgt. Deathrow to Harran’s Old Town area.

Additionally, Dying Light is celebrating the holiday by having an in-game Easter egg hunt. Players have until April 3rd to find at least 25 eggs hidden around the zombie-infested land to snag a sweet chicken outfit and a special weapon.

Dying Light’s pivot from a one-off product to the games-as-a-service model has been fascinating to watch. Midway through the developer’s 12-month support plan, players have gotten free weapons, characters, cosmetics, new game modes, and a steady drip-feed of community events. Pretty good for a game that came out in January 2015!