, | News

Meet Ana Amari, the next Overwatch hero. She’s a sniper. She’s also a healer. She can kill enemies from long-range as well as heal teammates waaaaay over there. She’s either going to be your best buddy or your worst nightmare, depending on which way her sniper rifle treats you. Be nice to Ana. She’s voiced by Emmy award-winning actress Shohreh Aghdashloo.

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Kill Strain, a top-down free-to-play twin-stick shooter for the PlayStation 4 from Sony San Diego, launched today. You wouldn’t know it, unless you went looking for it. First revealed in December 2014, the first-party title is being released in a low-key fashion. It’s not even noted on the front page of the PlayStation Blog. The game has an asymmetrical multiplayer setup, which may contribute to it being hard to market. It’s two teams of four humans versus each other and a team of two mutants. Sony San Diego previously worked on the MLB: The Show games, Mark of Kri, and they also created Drawn to Death, another free-to-play shooter for PlayStation 4.

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league_of_rockets

Loot crates are coming to Rocket League and they won’t be using the Steam back-end. It’s actually been rumored for a few weeks that Psyonix would be adding a cosmetic loot system similar to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or Overwatch, but a Reddit user uncovered data in the latest patch that seemed to show images of a crate and key. Psyonix vice president Jeremy Dunham confirmed the images as being legitimate and confessed that they were related to an upcoming loot feature. Scheduled for an official reveal next month, Dunham was quick to point out that the loot system will be for cosmetic items only and the studio would not be using Steam’s back-end system.

There will be no Steam Marketplace integration with crates. We are definitely aware of the problems related to third-party gambling in other games and we are not interested in taking that approach.

Steam has recently been embroiled in various gambling controversies due to shady sites trading and betting on CS:GO loot. While concerns over gambling is good copy, Psyonix would likely use their own loot system anyway since their game is available on consoles as well as PC.

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poke_go

No one not involved with the development of the game can really say how much money free-to-play Pokemon Go is bringing in for Nintendo, but it’s obvious that the game is a success in terms of capturing (pun intended) a big audience. Investor analysts estimate the game is nabbing $3 million to $5 million a day, and the prospects for sustained revenue are good enough to make Nintendo’s stock jump over 25 points.

The really stunning thing about Pokemon Go is how quickly it’s seeped into the public consciousness. Like a digital pocket monster superimposed on a camera image, Pokemon Go is already layering itself onto our reality. From countless memes on Twitter and Facebook, to real robberies being committed on Pokemon hunters, the game is everywhere. Because of the way the game tends to gather people physically near real-life landmarks, avid Pokemon Go players are winding up in sometimes humorous, and sometimes scary places. Perfect fodder for social media! After all, what’s funnier than nerds mingling with Hell’s Angels?

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Evolve is going free-to-play on PC. Starting today, the Evolve Stage 2 update turns Turtle Rock Studio’s 4v1 alien monster hunting shooter into a free-to-play game. Studio co-founders Chris Ashton and Phil Robb revealed the change to fans late yesterday, saying the business model needed to be overhauled for Evolve to successfully re-launch. Although the game was well-received during E3 and other previews, the negative reception at launch caught the team by surprise.

Sure, there were some good reviews. There were also bad reviews. Yes, there was excitement. There was also disappointment – for players and for us. The DLC shitstorm hit full force and washed away people’s enthusiasm, dragging us further and further from that first magical pick-up-and-play experience.

The course correction comes with immense changes to the gameplay experience as well. The force dome, used to catch the alien player, will now be an ability that any character can activate instead of being limited to the Trapper class. Respawns for the hunters will be on a timer that grows as the match progresses, instead of being on a set rotation. Monsters have more health to and begin with enough skill points at the start of a match to use four abilities right away.

Players that previously purchased Evolve prior to the re-launch will be rewarded for their patronage with various cosmetic goodies and everything unlocked in their accounts will carry over. Turtle Rock added that while they’d like to bring the same changes to console, the beta period on PC will allow them to work out any issues prior to working on the other versions.

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Team Fortress 2 now has competitive matchmaking and player levels. The Meet Your Match update for Valve’s venerable team shooter adds ranked matchmaking, special medals, titles, a new Pass Time mode, and three new community maps. The main feature of the update is long-requested 6v6 ranked mode that separates aspiring pros from casual peons.

Climb the comp mode ranks to earn up to 18 titles and badges. Track all of your match and ongoing stats in-game. You can even earn stat medals by scoring in the top percentile of all players in your rank.

According to the FAQ, players will need a premium Team Fortress 2 account to participate in ranked games. Legacy Steam accounts that paid for the Team Fortress 2 prior to its change to a free-to-play title are automatically considered premium. Newer accounts must purchase something from the in-game store for the upgrade.

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marston

Gamers have racked up over 100 million hours of gameplay in backwards compatible Xbox 360 games. This, according to Microsoft, is to date since the feature rolled out in November of 2015. With the New Xbox One Experience update owners of the Xbox One can play selected Xbox 360 games they already own on the newer console either digitally or by using their old discs. Popular titles like Fallout 3, Gears of War, and Call of Duty: Black Ops have been snatched up by players eager to relive the heady days of the last console generation as soon as they were added to the service.

The full list of backwards compatible games has grown steadily, but significant entries like Crackdown and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion remain absent. While gamers clamor for these missing games, Microsoft and the publishers have chosen to stay quiet, saving their announcements for maximum value. The latest being no exception. At long last, Rockstar’s cowboy magnum opus, Red Dead Redemption is coming to backwards compatibility.

Starting on Friday, every Red Dead Redemption Xbox 360 owner will be able to play the game directly on their Xbox One, regardless of which version of the game they own (Red Dead Redemption, Undead Nightmare and Red Dead Redemption: Game of the Year Edition). And for those who have yet to experience it, the game will be available to purchase on Friday from the Games Store on Xbox One.

Red Dead Redemption currently has a reduced price in Microsoft’s Ultimate Game Sale.

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, | Features
Boardgame_Commandments_featured

The god of boardgaming is an angry god. Very Old Testament. I have just come down from the mountain with these 10 commandments printed on quality cardboard stock mounted on boards that unfold like, uh, like this, I think. Here, you hold that side, and…no, no, that doesn’t bend that way, it bends the other way. No, no, yeah, okay now this part folds out like so. Okay, lay it out on the table. I think it’s upside down, spin it around thisaway. Okay, there. Let’s see what we’ve got here.

After the jump, this god sure does cuss a lot. Continue reading →

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gambling_go

Some prominent Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players were accused of posting deceptive videos related to a site they apparently own on which people can wager cosmetic CS:GO skins. These personalities claimed to have found this site that lets them put up their CS:GO weapon skins against others and win easy money since some of the skins are potentially worth hundreds of real dollars. Unfortunately, the videos failed to disclose that it wasn’t so much that the hosts “found” the site, but actually “founded” it. They were registered as co-owners since the company’s inception. In the wake of the scandal, another popular YouTube CS:GO player made a troubling confession admitting to showing rigged bets in his CS:GO skin wagering videos for another similar site. Ugly all around.

While these specific incidents may break various truth-in-advertising laws, and raise questions about the legitimacy of the supposedly random payouts, they also highlight an issue that has been growing since Team Fortress 2 started the cosmetic skin craze. Steam has become a catalyst for underage gambling. Because these in-game cosmetic skins don’t have a fixed monetary price, the in-game random distribution of them through loot drops or boxes defy conventional gambling laws. At the same time, the rarer skins hold high value and can be traded for Steam items (including other skins) that do have cash worth. Thus you end up with lucrative businesses like the CS:GO betting sites that encourage gambling for kids as young as thirteen.

While Valve doesn’t directly participate in this grey industry, a pending lawsuit accuses the company of turning a blind eye to the business and facilitating the corruption of minors by allowing these third-party sites to use Steam’s data. The suit further alleges that Valve benefits from the betting by gaining a percentage of the skin value traded during each transaction.

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bloody_warhammer

War is a bloody business. War in Warhammer is doubly bloody. Knights get eviscerated. Footmen get crushed. Goblins get pasted. It’s odd then that Creative Assembly’s Total War: Warhammer is so relatively bloodless. The Blood for the Blood God DLC changes that by adding blood effects to the mighty clashes of armies on the battlefields. Like previous Total War games, a “blood pack” DLC is what the developers use to add gore to the title after launch. For $2.99, you can have all the blood spurts, dismemberment, gibbing, and spatter you imagined a meeting of Orcs and Vampire Counts should have.

Creative Assembly does caution that using the DLC may raise the age rating of the game in some territories.

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, | Game reviews
Lego_Force_Awakens_review

I want to like Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I really do. In the past, the folks at Traveller’s Tales have whimsically recalled the joy of Batman, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and, of course, Star Wars. But unlike JJ Abrams whimsically recalling the joy of Star Wars with his adroit filmmaking, this latest Lego iteration can’t live up to its inspiration. It’s familiar, played out, and disappointingly half-baked.

After the jump, 87/243, so only 156 Lego characters to go! Continue reading →

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shocker

It’s another crowd-funding drive for a modern version of an old game. Wait! Don’t go yet! This is System Shock as done by Night Dive Studios. I know you’ve seen this all before. A beloved game redone in Unity. A Kickstarter with a lot of buzz. Pledge rewards. A studio staffed with industry vets. Even Chris Avellone is involved as a consultant. (Does this guy ever sleep?) A promise to stay true to the original vision, while using all the latest and greatest tech. What’s going to make this different from previous efforts like it? It may end in disappointment, but you have to give the developers credit for letting their work speak for itself.

There’s a free playable demo out now. This new version of System Shock is scheduled for a late 2017 release, and there’s already a demo to check out! It’s pre-alpha, so stuff might (and probably will) change, but what have you got to lose but a few minutes of your life? It’s got to be better than being attacked by rapid cyber-monkeys.

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