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Brink is free on Steam for the best reason

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Brink, Splash Damage’s 2011 team-based parkour shooter, suddenly became free on Steam over the weekend. That’s totally free to keep in your growing Steam library with a click of a button. But why? Why give away the game with no loot crates or any of the other typical free-to-play monetization schemes in place? According to Bethesda’s Pete Hines, the answer is simple.

“Why not?”

Hard to argue with that. Brink, much-maligned at launch thanks to technical issues, eventually bombed in sales due to poor marketing, multiplayer that was too different from the dominant Call of Duty paradigm at the time, and a number of design decisions that generally fared poorly with the audience. Splash Damage would eventually go on to make Dirty Bomb, taking elements of Brink and trimming the ideas down to a more cohesive whole. Meanwhile, freerunning and high-mobility traversal is all the rage in first person shooters.

Fist-bumps for Final Fantasy and Assassin’s Creed working together

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You want to play the next Assassin’s Creed game, but you’re still busy cruising around the countryside with your anime boy band bros in Final Fantasy XV. What can you do? Beginning August 31st, Assassin’s Creed will slide into Final Fantasy XV’s world with the free Assassin’s Festival DLC. It’s a chance to pick up some snazzy new hoodies for you and your buds, and share some Abstergo-approved Cup Noodles.

The town of Lestallum will transform itself for the event with signs and banners signaling the arrival of the festival, and new activities will be available for players to participate in.

As a bonus, if you’ve gotten a Dream Egg from the Moogle Chocobo Carnival, you can get an assassin outfit for Noctis one day early!

Hearthstone’s ‘Hearth and Home’ is not the equal of other videogame songs

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Overwatch’s Mei got her own animated short today, so it’s doubtful that many people will pay any attention to the companion video Blizzard released for Hearthstone. Given a choice between a sexy anime Overwatch nerd and a plucky Disney-esque Hearthstone song, we all know which mini movie will get more views. Still, it’s a valiant attempt to lodge an ear-worm into everyone’s brain.

“Hearth and Home” being an ode to Stonebrew Tavern is catchy, but it’s no “When I Find Love” from Saints Row: Gat out of Hell. It’s certainly not as good as “Oh No You Didn’t” from the marketing for Mercenaries 2, which despite being almost ten years old, still manages to pop into my head to this day.

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen’s leaderboard may be the end of diplomacy

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The upcoming XCOM 2: War of the Chosen expansion features a scored Challenge Mode. In challenge mode missions, players will be tasked with conquering specific scenarios using the same pre-made squads of soldiers, with the results being posted to a global leaderboard. Firaxis will create new challenge missions on a regular basis. Who can save more civilians? You, or that guy in Portugal? Who can snipe more snakemen? You, or the jerk in Alabama? We’ll find out on August 29th when War of the Chosen goes live.

Let’s celebrate BioShock’s tenth birthday by engaging in a Randian trade

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BioShock turns ten years old this month, and if you feel you need a new way to separate yourself from your money, 2K Games has an exclusive deal for you. The BioShock 10th Anniversary Collector’s Edition bundles all three of the BioShock games with their DLC, a numbered certificate of authenticity to satisfy your moral superiority, and an 11-inch Big Daddy statue to show off your inherent worth. It’s $199, which is the objectively fairest price possible. The package won’t actually be available until November 14th, but if you give them your money now, 2K Games will reserve one for you at launch so the mindless masses don’t beat you to the “extremely limited” sale quantities.

Rise of Nations will gain at least a dozen more players thanks to the Windows Store

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Rise of Nations, the seminal 2003 real-time strategy game from Big Huge Games, is coming to the Microsoft Windows Store. It’s the Extended Edition that’s already available on Steam, but built as a Universal Windows Platform app. If you’re hesitant about being locked-in to a limited multiplayer community, the upcoming UWP version will feature cross-play with Steam players! In fact, the beta branch of the Steam version is already cross-play enabled.

Rise of Nations: Extended Edition is coming to Windows Store on September 14th.

Planet Coaster’s newest ride isn’t virtual reality, but it’s close

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Planet Coaster has partnered with the real-life amusement park Cedar Point to release a free addition for the game. The 1.3.6 update includes in-game assets and blueprints to build the Steel Vengeance roller coaster, which will join Cedar Point’s collection of rides in May 2018. The wood and steel hybrid design will be the tallest and fastest coaster of its kind when it opens, and will feature the most airtime of any currently existing coaster. You can check out a first-person rendition of the ride here, or you could just build the darn thing in Planet Coaster and “ride” it there.

This partnership is notable for bringing an officially licensed coaster to players. The genre is chock full of generic amusements and fan interpretations of rides, but where are all the sponsored El Toro, Goliath, or Apollo’s Chariot DLC? Will we see the various Six Flags or Busch Gardens parks in video game form? There are a ton of independent amusement parks throughout the world that could use this platform to advertise their rides. Plus, we can have the guilt-free thrill of derailing licensed coasters into crowds of virtual people.

Yub nub! Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game strikes back!

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Fantasy Flight Games is publishing Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game 30th Anniversary Edition later this year. Before 1987, we didn’t know that Sienar Fleet Systems manufactured the ubiquitous TIE Fighter. We didn’t know where Boba Fett came from or who the Mandalorians were. We didn’t know that the little things that looked like pens on Imperial officers’ uniforms were code cylinders. Basically, our knowledge of the Star Wars universe was woefully incomplete until Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game from West End Games came out and codified the lore into something worthy of nerd nitpicking. It’s thanks to these early gaming books that Star Wars dorks could stand toe-to-toe with Trekkies in comparing minutia. West End eventually went bankrupt and the license passed to others, but the 1987 rules and sourcebook permanently influenced the franchise canon, much of it surviving through the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm.

The $60 bundle will include reproductions of the basic rule book and The Star Wars Sourcebook.

A lot more brave space marines died in StarCraft than we ever knew

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Thanks to the release of StarCraft: Remastered we can now zoom in and see all the fine detail we lost in the original game’s pixelated resolution. The game’s high-definition 2D graphics were made with the guidance of the original artists, who revealed the horrifying truth behind the 1998 designs. Look closely at the center of the anti-air missile turret. Every time you built a wall of missile turrets to protect your Terran outpost from a rampaging horde of Zerg Mutalisks, you were ordering brave men to their deaths. There was a little guy manning each tower, ready to give his life for your base.

Blizzard’s Battle.net service is now Blizzard Battle.net

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In September, Blizzard announced that they would stop referring to Battle.net in favor of generically branding each part of the system with the company name. We’d get Blizzard Voice or the Blizzard App to call out various components of the client. The studio cited “occasional confusion and inefficiencies” when it came to everyone writing or speaking about their products. At the time, people grumbled that it seemed like a change for change’s sake and they were disappointed that Blizzard was giving up the Battle.net name which they’d come to associate with titles like Diablo, StarCraft, and World of Warcraft.

Almost a year later, Blizzard is admitting defeat. Battle.net will stick around. The compromise is that the company will officially refer to their systems as “Blizzard Battle.net” which will hopefully cut down on any confusion and inefficiencies.

You can finally see each other in the latest version of No Man’s Sky

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Atlas Rises, the coming update for Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky, finally adds a step towards real-time elbow-rubbing multiplayer. The joint exploration feature lets up to 16 players see and communicate with one another – as glowing orbs. Think of them as the ghostly shadows of players in parallel dimensions for now.

“While interaction with others is currently very limited, this is an important first step into the world of synchronous co-op in No Man’s Sky.”

The Atlas Rising update adds a bunch of improvements that may satisfy the many detractors of the game. There’s thirty more hours of story to uncover, portals that can beam you around the galaxy, a new mission system, terrain editing tools, improved space combat, low altitude planetary flight, and new ships and items to purchase and trade. Will the game finally rise above Spore? Spore didn’t have the glowing player orbs from Fable 2, so score one for space orbs!

Glory to movie Papers, Please for having much success!

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Papers, Please the Eastern Bloc bureaucratic border control game from Lucas Pope, is getting its own official short film. First announced on Twitter in May, the teaser above shows off how well filmmakers Nikita and Liliya Ordynskiy have captured the depressing and grimy mundanity of manning a checkpoint booth in Arstotzka. Alas, the desk in the trailer looks a little too roomy to properly depict the tiny desktop the player had to use to shuffle paperwork while evaluating visitors.

The short film is due later this year.

The biggest threat to Friday the 13th’s campers are the other campers

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Remember that scene in the one Friday the 13th movie when the snarky counselor turned on her fellow campers, and killed them with her machete? You probably don’t because it never happened. Jason, or his mother, are the killers! (Okay, there was the one psychotic killer ambulance driver, but the less said about A New Beginning, the better.) The kids are supposed to run around in a panic, scream, hide, and end up spit-roasted on an improvised weapon. Alas, the players of Friday the 13th: The Game have no loyalty to the movies’ tropes. Team-killing is rampant, leaving the poor Jason player to wander a mostly empty map seeking out the lone enemy. Once again, players prove they can ruin any concept no matter how simple.

The developers are responding by nerfing the heck out of the weapons. In public matches, the majority of lethal hardware will no longer work on the other campers. You’ll still be able to harm other players with traps and the car, so expect a lot more vehicular homicide after the next patch.

Fair warning that Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is not fooling around

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There’s permadeath, and there’s no fooling, for reals, forever death. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice features a game over mechanic that will eventually delete your save file if you fail enough times in-game. Ninja Theory’s hardcore game may be mechanically easier than something like Dark Souls, but the failure punishment goes one further. The player character, Senua, is infected with a creeping darkness on her hands and arms which grows with every death. Die too many times and the darkness will consume Senua leading to the ultimate consequence. The game deletes your save file. There’s no cute gravestone to mark your character’s death. No silly epilogue. Your save file is gone and you get to start all the way from the beginning, fresh as the minute you started. Consider this your public service announcement.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is available on PlayStation 4 and Windows PC.