A beginner’s guide to Monster Hunter: World

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Since Monster Hunter: World‘s release on PC was a few days ago, chances are good that you may be a complete newbie to the series. Like me, you may have been intrigued by the franchise since its debut in 2004 on the PlayStation 2, but just never got around to picking it up for a console or handheld. New players can quickly find themselves overwhelmed, because the Monster Hunter games do very little hand-holding. Monster Hunter: World is slightly better in that regard, but it can still be a steep learning curve. Luckily, there are dozens of great starter guides available to ease new players into the lore and gameplay. They’re written by hardcore folks that can tell you the best combat strategies, how you should prioritize your crafting, and secrets of endgame play. Here, we offer something different. This is a beginner’s guide to the game. A beginner’s guide.

After the jump, it’s our Monster Hunter: World guide written by a beginner. Continue reading →

Doom Eternal turns skate parks into a circus trapeze act

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Bethesda and id Software’s reinvention of Doom was a revelatory experience that turned monster closets into skate parks of death. The sequel, Doom Eternal, looks like it will evolve those largely horizontal combat arenas into acrobatic sky-dances of death. The Doom Slayer’s new toys include a “meat hook” for the super shotgun that propels the player through the air by latching onto meaty demon parts and pulling him towards the target. As demonstrated in the QuakeCon video, that meat hook pull can be combined with maneuvered turns, and by stringing hook targets one after the other, the player becomes an airborne threat. Rocket-jumping is so 2016.

Creative Assembly’s Middle Kingdom shows up Warhammer’s kingdoms

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Maps of fantasy kingdoms look cooler than maps of real kingdoms, because real kingdoms don’t have lava rivers, mountains festooned with Minas Tirith looking cities, or massive blue sky vortices. But that’s not stopping Creative Assembly from trying to wow Total War: Warhammer players with the map of China in their upcoming Total War: Three Kingdoms. The above video has a touch of the usual army spectacle, but it’s mostly a flyover of campaign map graphics that would make any ork green with envy.

Total War: Three Kingdoms is scheduled for a spring 2019 release.

The one huge problem with Dan Simmons’ sci-fi mystery Hyperion

, | Book reviews

Hyperion is not what you would expect if the only Dan Simmons you’ve read is The Terror, a slab of historical fiction with an uneven supernatural glaze. It’s overlong, tedious, confused, and ultimately flat. You’d never guess it was written by the same person who wrote Hyperion, a sparkling collection of multi-faceted science fiction, with carefully built characters, a lovingly detailed world, and a glaring problem that threatens to undermine it all.

But we’ll get to that later. The first thing that’s clear in Hyperion, which I don’t remember being a takeaway from The Terror, is that Simmons is an adroit writer. Maybe it helps if you’ve been reading someone who isn’t.

Continue reading →

It’s finally time to fix PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

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“Fix PUBG.” That’s the motto of the new push from Bluehole and PUBG Corp. Acknowledging that the community of players has been urging developers to do the hard work of actually addressing the numerous performance, balance, and quality-of-life issues plaguing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the developers have promised to work on a “months-long campaign” to essentially “fix PUBG.” It’s a stunning public admission that the studio for too long was focused on revenue generation instead of basics like security and engine optimization.

“The bottom line is, you’re the reason for our success. You’ve stuck with us, and now it’s time for us to deliver the fixes you’ve been asking for.”

The campaign started with a live update that launched yesterday.

Cities: Skylines was almost good enough to fool a city

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That’s one of the images UK-based land developer Lanpro used in a proposal for the construction of a 10,000 home “garden town” near Norfolk. An avid player of Colossal Order’s Cities: Skylines immediately recognized that image as a creation of the game. In fact, the image wasn’t even created for the company’s proposal. According to The Eastern Daily Press, it was from a three-year-old Reddit thread. Matt Carding-Woods, the sharp-eyed Cities: Skylines fan credited the presence of the distinctive in-game refinery in the bottom of the proposal image for tipping him off. For its part, Lanpro says the image was only being used in an illustrative manner and the game software is used by other city planning firms “to model, engage and explain projects” which is quite the feather in Chirpy’s cap.

Fortnite on Android dodges Google’s store

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Fortnite will soon be available on Android mobile devices, but not through Google Play. Instead, iOS-less players will need to “sideload” Epic’s proprietary software to install and play the game. Speaking to Eurogamer, Epic’s Tim Sweeney confirmed that one of the reasons for not using Google’s app store was a financial concern.

Avoiding the 30 per cent “store tax” is a part of Epic’s motivation. It’s a high cost in a world where game developers’ 70 per cent must cover all the cost of developing, operating, and supporting their games.

Epic admitted that they would’ve done the same thing on Apple’s devices if they were able to load their software without using the curated (and revenue-sharing) method. Epic has not announced a date for Fortnite’s Android launch.

Who will woo Haley first in Stardew Valley? You, or your friend?

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Stardew Valley now has official multiplayer support. Developer Eric Barone has been working on the free co-op update for months, and thanks to an extensive beta and network assistance from publisher Chucklefish, the feature is now live. The 1.3 update doesn’t just add a way to farm with your four of your friends at the same time. It also comes with bug fixes, special winter events like a traveling festival and a mystery collection, new NPC interactions, and items to hoard. It also adds one thing that the game has been sorely missing.

You can now put hats on your horse.

Coo-op multiplayer is nice, but horse hats? How was this not a day one feature?

The Long Dark is getting longer, but the future is brighter

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The third story installment of The Long Dark is coming. Episode Three will launch as a free update in December 2018. According to the developer’s post, the third story act shifts the player’s perspective to Dr. Astrid Greenwood’s and the aftermath of Will Mackenzie’s travels in the first story episode.

More depressing survival adventure in the frozen Northern Canadian wilderness would normally be reason enough to (not) celebrate, but the update will also come with “redux” changes to Episodes One and Two. The revamped chapters will feature fully voiced NPC dialogue, a more open mission structure, an enhanced tutorial, bug fixes, and narrative scenes have been rewritten and will be presented in first-person view. Hinterland Studio is even removing the “fetch-questy” Trust System for now, but hopes to bring it back in another part of the game at a later date. Making a survival game is like crafting a fire in the snow with only newspaper rolls and wet matches. You just have to keep at it.

The theme song for Civilization IV still rocks

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That’s the Angel City Chorale bringing down the house on America’s Got Talent. They are indeed talented, but their choice of song obviously helped showcase their amazing sound. Christopher Tin’s Baba Yetu, originally written as Civilization IV’s theme song, remains a powerful, beautiful piece of music. The Lord’s Prayer in Swahili seems to transcend language. It deservedly won a Grammy in 2011. You can check out the version used in-game here, or the re-release from Tin’s album, Calling All Dawns.

Basquiat: the uninformed opinion

, | Features

My first thought upon flipping through a volume of Jean-Michel Basquiat works from a 2005 exhibit in Brooklyn was, “This is Basquiat?” He has such an exotic and dignified name. I assumed someone with that name would paint idylls and classical portraits. I expected he would be famous because his creations were moving works of beauty. Someone named Basquiat might even be a French master.

My second thought was, “This looks like garbage.” Angry childish scrawls. Gerald Scarfe when he was in boarding school. The cover of a Butthole Surfers album. An unabashedly amateurish webcomic. The scene when the protagonist flips through another character’s journal and discovers that character is totally insane. I don’t like this stuff. This is not the sort of thing I even understand.

So here is the exercise. Continue reading →