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!

Scaredy-cats can now enjoy Outlast 2

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If Outlast 2’s frantic scramble through backwoods mutant village horror was just too much for you, there’s a new mode that may tune the game to your liking. The Story Mode update adjusts the game so enemy numbers are decreased and there’s more time for exploration. One of the criticisms of Outlast 2 was that it was paced like a non-stop chase, negating any attempt to appreciate the creeping dread of the plot. Developer Red Barrels cautions that players can still die, there’s just more room to breathe along the way. The studio says the update reinserts content that was cut to get an M rating for the game’s launch as well.

In related news, the game is launching on the Nintendo Switch today. Even Mario fans get to enjoy the hillbilly killer zealots!

Acclaimed boardgame Through the Ages is more useless than ever

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Czech boardgame developer Vlaada Chvatil’s Through the Ages is a nearly unplayable masterpiece recreating the sweep of history with a handful of elegantly interlocked systems. It’s hard to learn, even harder to learn to play well, and even harder than that to actually get through a game. Playing Through the Ages competently requires failing Through the Ages several times over, wasting your and your friends’ time when you all could have been playing something you already knew and enjoyed.

For some reason, the boardgame’s publisher figured they’d make an iOS port of Through the Ages. As if. They didn’t have any experience doing videogame ports of boardgames, much less boardgames as sweeping, unmanageable, and esoteric as Through the Ages. It was bound to be a disaster. Instead, in one of last year’s biggest surprises, it was a triumph. It turned Chvatil’s unplayable masterpiece not only into a playable masterpiece, but an accessible masterpiece with a clever and funny tutorial, a built-from-the-ground-up interface that makes information intuitively available, as competent an AI as you want, a set of engaging challenges that will help you flex various ways to play, and smooth multiplayer support for real-time or asynchronous games with friends, enemies, or just strangers. It is the best boardgame port I have ever played.

Today it’s available for the PC with thorough cross-platform support to play with iOS players. It even synchronizes your progress with any challenges you’ve beaten on your iPad. Through the Ages is available on Steam for $16.

One whale’s spending made Warframe nix a microtransaction

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Digital Extremes removed a microtransaction from Warframe based primarily on one player’s behavior. Studio manager Sheldon Carter explained in a Noclip interview that the team disabled an “insanely profitable” in-game option to change the fur pattern and color of an animal companion when they realized it enabled gambling. For a little less than a dollar, players could push a button that randomly mixed the appearance of a pet kubrow, a sort of alien dog. The team observed one player that spent over $137 almost immediately in an effort to get his perfect cosmetic mix, which brought the team to an uncomfortable realization.

“Oh my dear God, what have we done? We’ve created a slot machine.”

It took the team a couple of days, but they rolled back the change and disabled the cosmetic mixing button. According to Carter, the behavior was not desired because they’d rather have players support the free-to-play game with transparent and non-predatory purchases.

In Star Trek Online, no one mourns for Morn

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More Deep Space Nine content is coming to Star Trek Online. Already present in the long-running MMO as a location hub with a few quests, the Victory is Life expansion will add more Gamma Quadrant content including the ability for players to become Jem’Hadar. René Auberjonois, Armin Shimerman, and Nana Visitor will provide voicework for the characters they played on the show. Real DS9 fans want to know if Mark Allen Shepherd will reprise his MVP role as Morn.

Victory is Life for Star Trek Online launches in June.

Just what A Hat in Time needed: more hats!

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The hat god looked upon A Hat in Time and rightly decided that the delightful puzzle platformer from Gears for Breakfast needed more hats. And lo, there are now more hats! There’s more of everything thanks to the addition of official mod support. All those user-made levels won’t go to waste either. Playing mods and completing mod levels, will grant Rift Tokens which can be used to purchase new hat flairs, remixes, and more! The cutest platformer in the universe just got an extra oomph of cuteness. It’s almost twee overload.

Don’t take my word for how cute the game was already. Check out the review of A Hat in Time here.

This is what gaming with ray-tracing might look like someday

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That’s Electronic Arts’ SEED (Search for Extraordinary Experiences Division) showing off their tech demo for Project Pica Pica, a game built with real-time ray-tracing technology. Ray-tracing has been around for decades, but mostly as a way to render light on surfaces for static images or in motion only via very powerful and expensive systems. We probably won’t see consumer games built with this tech for a bit, but it’s an interesting look at the ever-evolving world of computer graphics.

People either love Fortnite or Drake a lot

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What happens when a music superstar with 36 million Twitter followers hops into a session of Fortnite with one of the most popular videogame streamers in the world? You blow out all the records for Twitch viewership. Late last night renaissance man Drake popped into a game with Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and hit a peak of 607,000 Twitch viewers, easily surpassing the previous high of 388,000. Drake performed well, telling Blevins at one point that he’d only got into the game a “month or two” ago.

If that wasn’t enough of a pop-culture confluence, by the end of the night, Pittsburgh Steelers receiver John “JuJu” Smith-Schuster, rapper Travis Scott, and Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom joined the game. It all sounds so amazing that one might think it a prearranged marketing stunt, except for the way the group’s in-game meetup was plagued with technical issues for a good part of the stream. (Drake’s PlayStation tag was apparently too full.) Most of the issues were eventually resolved thanks to judicious use of cross-play between the PlayStation 4 and PC versions of the game. Basically, this may have been the best advertisement for Fortnite ever.

You can check out an archive of the gaming session here.

Would you like to play a game of #WarGames via Her Story?

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Sam Barlow, creator of the much-lauded 2015 Her Story mystery game, has released his interactive media update to WarGames. #WarGames, from Barlow and production company Eko, features scrappy young “hacktivists” cracking Gibsons and using hashtags for the forces of good. The player (media interactor?) gets to help the crew and do a lot of passive observation.

The first season is up on Steam, but it’s also available on Eko’s site free with ads.

Jurassic World Evolution didn’t stop to think if it should add Jeff Goldblum

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Jeff Goldblum will appear in Jurassic World Evolution. It’s no Cooking with Jeff Goldblum, but this announcement that he will be present in one form or another as Dr. Ian Malcolm in Frontier’s upcoming dino-theme park sim is almost too cute for words. It’s not clear why Dr. Ian Malcolm would help the player build a new amusement park filled with murderous dinosaur facsimiles from InGen, but with Frontier behind the game we can expect lots of Planet Coaster goodness using the popular Universal Studios license.

Jurassic Park Evolution will release later this year, probably around the time Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hits theaters.