Nick Diamon

It will cost you ten dollars to avoid jerks in Dota 2

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The latest Dota 2 premium pass includes access to tools that gives owners the ability to put other players on a personal ban list. Valve’s long-running MOBA now offers beta access to an Avoid Player feature, but you’ll have to give up at least $10 for the standard Battle Pass to use the tool.

Complaints from the Dota 2 community point out that besides charging for a basic toxic player management feature, the Avoid Player function doesn’t actually mean you won’t see those particular offenders in your future games. It only tells the system that you’d rather not play with a particular person, but matchmaking can override that notice. The Battle Pass does include a virtual high-five emote, so you can hopefully make nice and turn bad actors into buddies.

Steep is the cheapest ski trip you can take

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Ubisoft is giving away Steep, their high-flying, open world, snow sports game, to anyone that wants it. You can add Steep to your PC Uplay library right now. It will be yours to keep for as long as Uplay remains a thing. You have until May 21st to grab the game, and really, why wouldn’t you? Tom liked its laid-back approach to winter activities.

“It’s your mountain range, dude. Steep shrugs affably and patiently waits while you mosey over to unlock a new drop-off point.”

Crush the powder Bro!

The other half of Red Dead Redemption 2 has launched

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Rockstar has graduated Red Dead Online, the multiplayer portion of Red Dead Redemption 2, out of beta status. The “full” launch includes poker, more cooperative story missions, free roam activities, and cosmetic bits and bobs to buy for your online desperado.

The developers say that they’ve built a solid foundation for Red Dead Online, on which they plan to build content for years to come. Starting this summer, Rockstar plans to add player roles to the online mode that will offer virtual cowpokes the chance to specialize in bounty hunting, trading, or collecting artifacts.

Take Two CEO Strauss Zelnick told investors during a quarterly earnings call that Red Dead Online is already outpacing Grand Theft Auto V’s GTA Online performance during its initial run.

Imagine World of Warcraft without memes

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Blizzard has announced the start of World of Warcraft Classic. The wayback mode goes live on August 27th, putting players back to 15 years ago when Leeroy Jenkins had to be explained to moms and the mere mention of Barrens chat could elicit groans from the MMO audience. Beginning tomorrow, some lucky players will be asked to participate in small-scale beta testing, with invitations going to current “dedicated” folks as determined by “select” criteria.

Blizzard will begin accepting character names on August 13th, so if you want that coveted “Elric_of_Meltingbone” or “Drizzt_Doodoo” you’ll have to be ready to jump in the queue then.

PUBG gives Game for Peace a chance in China

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Tencent has pulled the mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds from the Chinese market and replaced it with Game for Peace. The new game is a somewhat sanitized reimagining of PUBG that swaps blood with sparks, death animations with a jaunty hand-wave, and supplies a patriotic backstory honoring the Chinese military as an anti-terrorism force. You can check out the zaniness in this video.

Reuters reports that the publisher made the changes based on PUBG failing to get approval for in-app purchases in the country due to objectionable content, as judged by the Chinese government’s censors. The publisher announced that Game for Peace has already secured the clearance to collect in-app revenue. While the changes may seem silly, the ability to actually make money seems to be the concern for the company.

Go back in time ten years with Minecraft

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Mojang and Microsoft have made a free version of the 2009 build of Minecraft. Available to play in your browser right now, Minecraft Classic turns the pixelated clock back to a time when the game only had 32 different material blocks, no in-game store, and no controversy. There’s also not much to actually do, but we were all so much more willing to let a developer slide on possibility back then. If you like to stack blocks, and then stack even more blocks, this is the version for you.

Microsoft Solitaire made it into the Hall of Fame

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Microsoft Solitaire, the ubiquitous time waster of offices everywhere, is now an official inductee of the World Video Game Hall of Fame. The National Museum of Play chose Microsoft Solitaire for inclusion due to its cultural impact, popularity, and its enduring legacy since its 1990 launch on Windows 3.0. Microsoft’s manager for casual games, Paul Jensen, said the company was honored to have Solitaire included in the Hall of Fame along with heavyweights like Tetris, Doom, and The Oregon Trail.

If you were one of the people that played Solitaire, thanks to it being bundled with the operating system on every PC sold during its run, you unknowingly participated in a slick tutorial. Microsoft originally included the game as a way to teach users how to operate basic functions of the mouse, a peripheral that was new to most folks back in 1990.

Microsoft encourages potato aim on Xbox

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Microsoft has updated their service agreement and Code of Conduct with a new Community Standards for Xbox site.The page breaks down the normal legal jargon into easy-to-parse text for gamers. Most of it is generally good advice like “win or lose, be a good sport,” but there’s a real head-scratcher in the examples of acceptable trash talk.

“That was some serious potato aim. Get wrecked.”

I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of having “potato aim” by anyone in an online game, but I don’t think my life will be complete without someone legitimately yelling that at me. It would be so much nicer than the things I have had hurled my way.

Which Saints Row will we get in the movie?

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Forget the awful Sonic the Hedgehog film. The director of Straight Outta Compton, F. Gary Gray, is developing a Saints Row movie. Deadline reports that Gray is working with Greg Russo, (not related to the Marvel Russo brothers) to bring those lovable Third Street Saints to the big screen. Actually, that raises an interesting question. If the movie ever gets made, and many in-development movies never leave the writing stage, will we see the Grand Theft Auto inspired gangsta Saints from the first game, or the wacky dildo bat goofballs that fought aliens and the Devil?

This is the Sonic the Hedgehog movie trailer. I’m sorry.

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Everything about this upcoming movie adaptation of Sega’s blue speedster is a nightmare. From concept to casting, this movie looks like an example of Paramount making another Monster Trucks and not knowing when to pull the plug. At least Tom will have a great horror movie to review on the podcast.

Arma III may finally give Operation Flashpoint fans what they’ve always wanted

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Global Mobilization: Cold War Germany is the first in Bohemia Interactive’s Creator DLC project. It’s meant to be curated, high-quality Arma III content made by fans and other studios. In this case, it’s 1980’s Cold War forces clashing in the fictional countryside of Weferlingen, which will probably tickle some grognards’ antennae tuned to check for Fulda Gap references. The DLC comes with 42 vehicles, 21 infantry weapons, and uniforms suitable for a military Stranger Things marathon. Pack in a 10-mission campaign and 17 multiplayer scenarios and you’ll get all the Tom Clancy fever dreams you can handle.

Is it the dreaded “paid mods” phenomenon? Bohemia doesn’t think so. The studio feels their Creator DLC packs would not otherwise get made to this quality, and they will not replace anything that exists for free already.

Apex Legends developer values employees’ lives over more content

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Even as horror stories about months of brutal crunch, workers becoming stress casualties, and even employees dying at their desks from exhaustion, have popped up in the gaming industry again, the CEO of Respawn Entertainment decided to put his employees’ quality-of-life first. Speaking at GamesBeat Summit, (as reported by Gamasutra) Vince Zampella revealed that the studio plans to support Apex Legends with a seasonal release schedule to maintain his team’s work-life balance and level of production.

“The thought was ‘hey we kind of have something that’s blowing up here, do we want to start trying to drop more content?’ But I think you look at quality of life for the team. We don’t want to overwork the team, and drop the quality of the assets we’re putting out. We want to try and raise that.”

While Zampella did not directly call out BioWare, Epic Games or NetherRealm Studios for their recently publicized troubles, it’s hard not to contrast Respawn’s strategy with theirs. Although many in the community have criticized the recently released first Apex Legends Battle Pass for being light on content compared to its competitors, (a criticism the studio acknowledges) programmers and artists killing themselves to make more gun skins is probably not what anyone wants.

Halo Infinite remains Battle Royale free, for now

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343 Industries’ Frank O’Connor has responded to rumors that Halo Infinite might launch with a dedicated Battle Royale mode. MSPoweruser tracked down the statement made by O’Connor after speculation that a portion of the game’s budget was being used to create a dedicated mode copying Apex: Legends or even Fortnite. While not totally ruling it out as an option later, O’Connor denied any plans to launch with officially supported Battle Royale, and stated that the developers consider it something the community could make in the popular user-led Forge modification mode.

“But are we interested in big social modes with loads of organic shenanigans? Yes. Specifically A blimp full of survivors heading to an Island after a (metaphorical) lecture from Beat Takeshi? No.”

Halo Infinite still has no release date, but it will be coming to Xbox One and Windows 10.

So, you got banned from Fortnite

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Even as Fortnite gears up for another Avengers marketing event, Epic Games is dealing with rampant cheating. The company announced over 1,200 bans handed out to cheaters in the first week of the World Cup Online open tournament. Punishments were given to players sharing and boosting accounts, switching regions, teaming up to trade kills, and even using software modifications. In one strange case, a professional eSports player was tattled on by the person that sold him the cheating app. Cap would give you detention for that.

The Fortnite World Cup Online open tournament will continue until June 16th. The finals will occur on the 26th through the 28th of July.

Your PC has to be up to snuff to get the new stuff for Cuphead

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Cuphead, that dastardly but charming cartoon side-scroller from Studio MDHR, just launched on Nintendo Switch and got a free update on other platforms. The 1.2 update brings older versions up to par with the Switch advancements like character selection right from the beginning of the game, fully animated cinematics, and updated art and effects for enemies.

The PC update comes with a caveat. The developers had to update the whole game to a new version of the Unity engine, leaving less capable systems behind. If you’re stuck on DirectX 9, you’ll need to play an old branch of the game, which means you won’t experience any of the new content. The good news is that this is perfect fodder for debating which version is actually harder and more a measure of your gaming skills.