Nick Diamon

If you want to give Black Ops 4 more money, you’ll be able to do that soon

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The in-game store is now open for business in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. The Black Market, Call of Duty’s reward system, is live on PlayStation 4. Players can unlock new cosmetic items on Sony’s console first, while players on other platforms will have to wait a week for the privilege.

The Black Market’s “Contraband Stream” is the event pass system for Black Ops 4. Taking part in seasonal or special events will move you along a loot path. As you progress, you’ll unlock various event rewards including skins, gestures, special weapons, and new characters. For now, these events seem to be free for all to participate in, but Activision does note that they’ll be turning on the ability to purchase items with real money in November.

Sean Bean preens for his meme scene in Hitman 2

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Sean Bean plays the role of Mark Faba in Hitman 2’s first elusive target mission, The Undying. It’s Sean Bean, so we know how this one will turn out, especially with Agent 47 involved. Faba’s somewhat of an inventor according to the video. You even get to vote on which one of his weapons the developers should unlock. (Of course, the right answer is the pen.) Players will be able to hunt Bean’s digital alter ego starting on November 20th, and he’ll only be available as a target for ten days.

Hitman 2 launches on November 13th.

Let the rhythm move your body in Cultist Simulator’s newest DLC

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Welcome to the Ecdysis Club. Ecdysis is the process of shedding old skin. Like a snake. Or a cultist sloughing off their mistaken conception of how the universe works. Cultist Simulator’s latest offering, The Dancer, gives players new ways to blast their sanity and delve into forbidden knowledge while managing the ever-rolling tide of time.

Some dances can only be performed in far places, and some cannot be performed in human shape.

Like everything else in Cultist Simulator, there’s a price to paid for getting what you want.

You can catch up on Destiny 2 in one go starting tomorrow

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Beginning on October 16th, owners of Destiny 2’s latest expansion, Forsaken, will get all the content from the expansion pass. That’s everything from the Curse of Osiris and Warmind packs. According to Bungie’s post, the content is being rolled together to streamline the process of bringing on new players. It makes sense because many popular MMOs and “games as a service” experiences do the same thing. Easing the barrier to entry can better entice fresh players and keep the community going.

Every player of Destiny 2 who has yet to touch down on the Tangled Shore will need only the Forsaken upgrade.

If you jumped on Forsaken already, you’ll get a bunch of in-game items as an acknowledgement of your loyalty. There’s nothing quite like wearing a cosmetic doodad to tell everyone you paid full price for something.

When you revisit Assassin’s Creed 3, don’t forget to go home

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If you purchase the Season Pass for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, you have copies of Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered and Assassin’s Creed Liberation Remastered coming. According to the newly updated support page, these are the full games with all story DLC and upgraded graphics. All the buzzwords are here. There’s 4K, HDR, new light rendering, denser crowd tech, and various other improvements.

What’s important is the remaster may get people to play Assassin’s Creed 3 that missed it the first time around. It might even entice some players that abandoned it halfway through to come back. If you’re one of those folks, ignore the hullabaloo over the main character’s supposed blandness or the criticism for the odd extended prologue. Instead, make sure to play the optional homestead missions. They’re a delightful set of quests that task the player with building a small slice of colonial America. They’re a great mix of gameplay, and the story gives the normally dour Conner a chance to show off some humor. Most importantly, the founding and nurturing of the homestead perfectly captures the essence of the setting.

Is Lovecraft too racist for gaming?

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Eurogamer with a screaming hot take on H.P. Lovecraft’s racism. The foundation of the piece, that Lovecraft had some extremely racist opinions even for his time, is not new. What is new is that Eurogamer’s contributor, Sam Greer, proposes that his racism so tainted his work that it should not be used in any context in gaming. In Sam Greer’s view, games recreate the xenophobia and racism inherent in Lovecraft’s writing, but through the sanitization of gameplay, and making it appeal to a general audience, offers no criticism or self-reflection. Additionally, Greer accuses the Mythos of being boring and overused.

It’s time to let go of Lovecraft. No more tentacled multi-eyed monstrosities, no foggy fishing towns or ancient aliens posing as gods. These are jokes and the remnants of a poisonous world view. Let’s move on.

SOMA, Greer writes, is a good example of a game that trades on themes of existential terror and loneliness without invoking Lovecraft. Clanking around the deserted science fiction facility while being chased by mechanical terrors offered a fresh take on cosmic horror, according to Greer. Lovecraft not needed at all.

Where does that put coming titles like Cyanide Studio’s Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game or Frogwares’ The Sinking City? Are players cleared to separate the art from the artist, or is the act of gaming in Lovecraft’s universe an implicit approval of his xenophobia?

Is gaming ready for its version of Lovecraft Country?

Microsoft wants you to not own any games

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On-demand game streaming is the hot thing to talk about. Like Google’s recent Project Stream announcement, Microsoft is taking the cover off their own game streaming service. Project xCloud will leverage Microsoft’s Xbox experience and architecture to deliver gaming on the go someday. Unlike Google’s effort, Project xCloud isn’t open for select player tests, but Microsoft has the advantage of currently having millions of customers already willing to pay a subscription fee for Xbox Live Gold and Gamepass. Freedom from consumer ownership is right around the corner!

This is how Chilller got those first two terribly bloody stages

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Chiller, the 1986 light-gun game from Exidy, is one of those bizarre relics of the end of the arcade boom. It’s small-time infamous for having two initial stages set in a dungeon in which the player is challenged to kill prisoners in as short a time as possible. Savvy players would use the various torture devices to quickly dispatch victims, such as shooting the guillotine blade to decapitate the condemned. More bloodthirsty players could shoot the prisoners directly resulting in torn limbs, bloody spurts, and a longer time to death. The other half of the game featured more traditional pop-out monster light-gun levels, but the first two levels with their (for the time) excessive gore and sadism stood out even compared to contemporaries that attracted more negative media attention. How did this come to pass? Luke Winkie, writing for Kotaku, asked one of the original programmers. Despite its salacious subject matter, the answer is as pedestrian as can be.

“If you don’t hook the audience in the first 15 seconds or 30 seconds, it doesn’t matter what’s going in the rest of the thing,” he said. “We knew most people like blood and guts, especially if they’re in an arcade full of wacko teenagers. We knew if we could just hook them with some gore – which itself isn’t much of a game other than how accurate you are, and not shooting the same body part over and over again – if you could get past that they’d be in.”

It always comes down to knowing your audience.

Dungeons & Dragons Online made its save versus entropy

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Dungeons & Dragons Online has released its 40th update. There’s no anniversary or special holiday connected to the Cloaked in Darkness update. It’s a perfectly fine MMO content patch. It features the return of an annual festival event, balances some player abilities, adds cosmetic cloaks, and launches the Wood Elves race which can be purchased by players if they don’t already pay for VIP access. If none of that sounds exciting to you, then you’ve probably been playing games with cloaks and wood elves for the past decade. For longtime Dungeons & Dragons Online folks, Update 40 is a time to celebrate.

It’s a good reminder that MMO’s that you don’t hear much about still have communities of players, dedicated support staff, and a measure of success despite not having headline-grabbing news. The game’s been banging around since 2006, so bravo to players that stuck with it since its Stormreach days.

You’re finally going to see just how badly you lost XCOM

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The Tactical Legacy Pack, for XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, bridges the gap between the first game and the second. The new Legacy Ops mini-campaign shows what happened while The Commander (you) slept in an alien stasis cocoon after the canonical defeat in Enemy Unknown. Featuring reimagined maps, guns, and outfits from 2012’s title, the four-mission Legacy Pack campaign fills in that comatose blank. Just how did the Earth Resistance form? Where did they get the home base ship? Who buys the booze in the officer’s mess? All those flashback assets will be added to the base game campaign as well.

The Tactical Legacy pack will be free for XCOM 2: War of the Chosen expansion owners for the first eight weeks after launch. It will be $7.99 thereafter. The DLC releases on October 9th on PC.

Cloud game streaming has always had problems. Maybe Google can fix them?

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Google is experimenting with cloud gaming. Google has announced Project Stream to tackle the biggest issues with providing full interactive “on demand” game streaming to players. Beginning on October 5th, a select few applicants will be allowed to play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey right in their Chrome browser to help test Google’s streaming method. The software giant has already largely solved reliable video streaming with YouTube, so why not let them have a crack at the problems that killed services like OnLive?

Current services like Nvidia GeForce NOW, LiquidSky, and PlayStation Now struggle to deliver high-resolution games with low latency input. Even Steam In-Home Streaming has issues with spotty quality, and that’s with a separate hardware box and using your home network. Project Stream from Google could be the games-as-a-service dream for publishers.

Time to save the kingdom, but first, a game of Gwent!

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Oh, no. I thought I was done with Gwent. I wasted hours of my life playing the addictive little card game in The Witcher 3. Hours I should’ve used to hunt monsters and search for my witcher daughter. Instead, I tracked down every special card and played every stinking shopkeep that smirked at me. I thought I was doomed when CD Projekt RED announced a standalone free-to-play version of Gwent, but thus far, the early access version hasn’t held my attention. Something ineffable is lost in Gwent as a pure competitive game. I was safe. Now, this. Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is a standalone single player Gwent game wrapped around a campaign story. I’m ploughed.

Clear your drives, partner! Red Dead Redemption 2 will take a passel of space.

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Red Dead Redemption 2 launches in a little under a month on consoles, and you’re probably going to want to make some room on your hard drives. Rockstar’s western epic may require over 100 gigabytes of space on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The news comes from a Target listing for a PlayStation 4 Pro bundle, via Rockstar Intel, that notes the whopping 105GB of space needed for the game. The box text also claims that Red Dead Online (the 1800’s version of GTA Online) will support up to 32 players at the same time, an increase of two cowboys from GTA Online’s 30-player max. Giddy-up!

There’s still no word of a PC version, so those hard drives are safe for now.

The Xbox 360 controller remains the king for PC gaming

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Valve has released some interesting stats for controller use on their platform. In summary, the Xbox 360 controller is far and away the most widely used controller on Steam, with 45% of players using it over other options. Another 20% of players use a PS4 controller. Close behind that is the Xbox One controller at 19%. PS3 controller use slips in at 7%. Finally, everything else, including the Steam Controller, gets lumped together for the final 8%. In fact, there are only about 1.5 million Steam Controller users.

What does this all mean for controllers on PC? Valve seems to consider their Steam Input controller code a success. Despite the relatively low sales of the Steam Controller itself, opening up the input configurations for all controllers to user tinkering has benefitted all players. Valve remains committed to supportung as many controllers as possible.

This is how ‘the bird’ wound up in Tales from the Borderlands

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It’s sad when game development studios go out of business. It’s downright tragic when it happens so abruptly that employees get left with no severance, benefits running out, and projects cancelled. The silver lining is that when a company shuts down, ex-employees feel free to relate humorous anecdotes about how the sausage was made. We’re seeing that now with Telltale Games. The bitterness and confusion over the sudden closure has calmed a bit, and the survivors are down to reminiscing about their time together. Here, Molly Maloney, a designer on Tales from the Borderlands explained how the scene with a character maniacally flipping off a bunch of monitors came to be.

“When we requested the animation for Rhys turning off Hyperion monitors in Tales from the Borderlands ep 5, the requested anim was worded as ‘Rhys flips off the monitors as he runs by.’ What we got back was so good [we] decided to just go with that.”

Whatever your opinion of Telltale Games’ output, it’s indisputable that their games had an impact on the industry. The Walking Dead: Season One was an emotional revelation, and while the rest of their catalog perhaps never reached those heights again, the studio plugged away at over a dozen games in the same vein. The studio even dipped into publishing indie titles from other developers like 7 Days to Die and Stranded Deep on consoles.