Nazis, please stay away from Warhammer

, | News

Games Workshop has published a warning that real-world hate groups are not welcome. It’s been a thorny issue for decades. Racists, xenophobes, and extremists have always been attracted to the fictional racism, xenophobia, and extremism in the Warhammer universe. Like real organizations founded on hate, the Warhammer 40,000 Imperium of Man apes the symbols and vocabulary of ancient Rome. Then it coats it all with authoritarian nihilism and some thin sci-fi trappings. In the fiction of the game universe, the Imperium is a home for cowards, opportunists, and the insane. Even the vaunted Space Marines are genetically manipulated freak warriors that are little more than brainwashed tools of the insane emperor. It’s a brutal and merciless future, and according to Games Workshop, it’s not meant to be aspirational. Please take your swastikas and go away.

The Imperium of Man stands as a cautionary tale of what could happen should the very worst of Humanity’s lust for power and extreme, unyielding xenophobia set in. Like so many aspects of Warhammer 40,000, the Imperium of Man is satirical.

In fact, Games Workshop is making their stance quite clear. If you come onto a Games Workshop property, like one of their retail stores, or show up to one of their gaming events while espousing or wearing the symbols of a real-world hate group, they’ll ask you to leave. They just don’t want you around if you’re one of those jerks.

We won’t let you participate. We don’t want your money. We don’t want you in the Warhammer community.

Maybe find another hobby? Something a little less on-the-nose for Nazism. How about vegetarian cooking? There was a certain Nazi leader that was big into being a vegetarian, after all.

The best Fast and Furious you’ll see all week: Titane

, | Movie reviews

When David Cronenberg adapted James Ballard’s car crash fetish novel, Crash, he made a movie about a bunch of weirdos I couldn’t possibly understand. Mainly because they seemed like nonsense ideas rather than actual people. Do actual people bond over recreations of famous car crash fatalities? Is there really a shadowy underground network that stages these things and then they all have sex with each other after they’ve evaded the cops? Are Rosanna Arquette’s leg braces supposed to somehow make her more or less hot? And do Canadians really say “penis” and “semen” when they’re doing dirty talk? Watching Crash was like accidentally stumbling into a Reddit group for some fetish that I never knew existed.  

Continue reading →

Skyrim Anniversary Edition adds fishing and probably a ton of new bugs

, | News

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition is coming. That probably brings the different versions of Skyrim up to infinity plus one when you factor in all the platforms it’s on. It’s ten years old, so it may as well be on everything since its influence has been felt in almost every open-world game since it came out.

The most important thing you need to know is that there will be a free update to Skyrim Special Edition that will add fishing to the game. Some people will be jazzed about the free new survival mode, or the new armors, weapons, or crafting bits, or the addition of a new quest storyline that’s supposed to be a big deal, but they’re nuts. It’s all about the fishing with 20 unique new fish to catch, cook, display as trophies, or keep as pets in aquariums!

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition, which will also be available as a paid upgrade bundle, will add all previous Creator’s Club content to the game. Additional new Creator’s Club DLC will also be available as separate purchases.

Not even your ears are safe from Call of Duty: Vanguard

, | News

Jack White, former lead of the White Stripes, has published his first solo track in four years. Taking Me Back has that familiar Jack White distortion and heavy drums, but this time he’s partnered with Call of Duty’s developers to give it a video drenched in explosions, tracer fire, and “ooh-rah” attitude, which is an odd choice for a song about someone regretting a breakup. Or maybe it isn’t, considering the performance of the last World War II Call of Duty? At least it’s not some garbage acoustic rendition of Gangsta’s Paradise.

After you’ve done the fun stuff in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, you can do the mundane

, | News

Ubisoft has updated Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and added the Discovery Tour. The mode adds the peaceful “edutainment” tour of the game’s time period. Like previous entries in the series, you’ll travel around the game map learning about the land and some behind-the-scenes decisions that developers used to bring the world to life in virtual form.

This time around, Ubisoft has added a series of quests and unlockables that can be used in the main game. Players will inhabit Viking and Anglo-Saxon characters like a merchant and take on mundane challenges like mending a ship or fixing a wagon. It’s Assassin’s Creed without all the assassinating.

Epic Games achievements unlocked

, | News

Epic Games is launching the initial version of its achievements next week. Since the Epic Games Store launched in December of 2018, one of the oft-cited criticisms of the platform is how it lacks features that other PC store applications have had for years. Key among those missing features is achievements, those little odes to Skinner box reinforcement that completionists love. They’re the oil that keeps operant conditioning operating.

You may ask, didn’t Epic have achievements since mid-2019? They sure did, but no one uses them. Per Epic, they were “developer achievements” that didn’t equal the functionality that you you’d find elsewhere. For example, Epic’s current achievement system (only working in a handful of games) do not display outside of the client if the game isn’t running, which makes sharing progress and bragging difficult. The new iteration of achievements will hopefully correct that oversight.

Ominously, Epic Games’ announcement ends with a warning to watch for “new social features and player rewards later this year.” Shudder.

Are you ready to binge some Driver?

, | News

Ubisoft is working on a new entertainment product based on its Driver property. Ubisoft Film & Television, most recently responsible for Werewolves Within, is developing a Driver live-action series featuring secret agent John Tanner’s car-based stunts as he takes down a crime syndicate. Fans of the underrated Driver: San Francisco may have expected more from Ubisoft’s property, but at least it’s not another bad mobile game like Driver: Speedboat Paradise.

The show will be hosted on the upcoming streaming service Binge in 2022. What’s Binge? It’s the streaming service for people that really want to see shows and movies based on video games. If you’re concerned with Driver not having enough game elements, the streaming service has that covered too.

Earn useful Bytz rewards for bingeing exclusive shows, premium channels, and original live-action series where your favorite games come to life.

Bytz, (terrible name) are funny-money tokens, that do something or other. Best to let the company describe it.

BYTZ is an open-source decentralized peer-to-peer currency featuring a Delegated Proof of Stake algorithm designed to empower content creators through transparent media analytics and blockchain tokenization.

I take it back. The Driver: Speedboat Paradise mobile game doesn’t sound so bad after all.

Forty years late, you may finally finish Arctic Adventure

, | News

Harry McCracken, an editor at Fast Company, used to write games for the Radio Shack TRS-80 when he was a teen. Back then, the games were sold as text code in a magazine or book that users would have to type into their home machines, essentially manually copying the game into their systems. Arctic Adventure, published in “The Captain 80 Book of BASIC Adventures” was Harry’s first paid published game, but it was a bittersweet victory because, according to the publisher, the game was “unwinnable” and 16-year-old Harry never got a copy of the book. After that, the game fell into obscurity, not even garnering enough attention to attract the notice of preservationists that recreated many of these TRS-80 gems on the internet.

“I know of only a couple of contemporary mentions of it on the internet, and no evidence that anyone has played it since the first Reagan administration. It seems fair to call it a lost game. Or at least I lost it myself until recently.”

Now, 40 years later, Mr. McCracken has fixed the bugs in his game that made it “unwinnable” and has posted it to the net in a playable browser form for all to try. Remember to “GET SHOVEL” and enjoy the adventure.

Firaxis unveils the Nico vs. Chthon showdown Marvel fans have been waiting for!

, | News

If you’d asked me 20 years ago to name a bunch of Marvel superheroes, I would have done well enough. But if you ask me today? Now that Marvel is as culturally relevant as even the most famous Disney princess, I can probably name dozens. Literally. I bet I could manage the names of at least 24 superheroes without even having to boot up my copy of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 to remember there are superheroes named Crystal and Elsie Bloodstone.

But with today’s announcement of Firaxis’ Marvel game, Midnight Suns, I can raise that number to at least 29:

Through a twisted marriage of magic and science, the nefarious force known as Hydra has revived Lilith, Mother of Demons, after centuries of slumber. Lilith will stop at nothing to complete an ancient prophecy and summon her evil master, Chthon. Pushed to the brink, the Avengers desperately look to fight fire with Hellfire by enlisting the help of the Midnight Suns – Nico Minoru, Blade, Magik, and Ghost Rider – young heroes with powers deeply rooted in the supernatural, formed to prevent the very prophecy Lilith aims to fulfill. Together, they resurrect an ancient warrior – the Hunter, Lilith’s forsaken child and the only hero known to have ever defeated her.

On one hand, I’m glad to see Disney exploring the, uh, overlooked elements of their shiny new IP. But on the other hand, they couldn’t spare something a little more mainstream for the folks at Firaxis who brought us XCOM? I have heard of exactly two of the characters in that premise, one famous because he was played by Nicolas Cage, and the other famous for an aphorism about obstreperous individuals unwilling to accept the gravitational dynamics of ice skating.

Firaxis will be showing off Midnight Suns gameplay next week. Until then, I’m imagining the superhero X-com we’ve all been dreaming about since Simtex’s Guardians: Agents of Justice was canceled.

After 275 updates, Star Traders: Frontiers is finally ready to break some copyright laws

, | News

The 275th update — not an exaggeration! — to Star Traders: Frontiers has finally added mod support to the Trese Brothers’ sprawling and lovingly intricate space opera. With the release of this update, they’ve announced five mods currently available. Most of them are the usual cruft. Little more than cheats, really. Hack your crew to max level! Insanely powerful ships to run roughshod over the official content! New classes that are really just remixes of existing classes! I can be dismissive because I haven’t actually tried any of them.

However, one of the mods I haven’t tried reminds me of a Firefly-inspired challenge to play Star Traders: Frontiers with fewer crew members, each of whom matter more. In its current state, Star Traders: Frontiers is about managing a few dozen crew members. If one or two mutiny or get killed, eh, no big deal, you’ve got plenty more. But what if they weren’t so disposable? What if none of them wore red shirts? Two years ago, that was the premise behind a Firefly community challenge. Today, it’s the premise behind the Merchant Marine: Fly Casual mod.

Of course, there are sure to be scads of Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, Expanse, Defiance, and Dr. Who mods. I’m not sure if Steam hosts these anymore or if you’ll have to go to someplace like to get them. But I am sure they’ll be out there. I’ll be holding out for a Dune total conversion.

You won’t have to shell out for Mortal Shell’s expansion if you act fast

, | News

Mortal Shell, Cold Symmetry’s debut fantasy action combat game is getting a roguelike expansion. The Virtuous Cycle adds procedurally mixed levels, scatters enemies around randomly, and comes with a new player avatar, Hadern. There’s also a nifty “axatana” weapon (pictured above) that honestly looks more dangerous for the wielder than the target. The expansion launches on August 18th and the price of The Virtuous Cycle is zero if you own the game by August 22nd. The timing coincides with the game’s launch on Steam, after it’s exclusivity on Epic ends for PC, which is also on the 18th. If you miss the free offer, The Virtuous Cycle will be $7.99.

Rift Apart brings ray tracing — and not much else — to Ratchet & Clank

, | Game reviews

What a great time to be a fan of ray tracing!  Whatever that is.  I couldn’t tell you what ray tracing is if my life depended on it.  Something to do with reflections and light?  I figure it’s like lens flare: if I notice it, it’s not doing its job.  But I’d have to know what it is to notice it.  So, hurrah, ray tracing has finally come to Ratchet & Clank thanks to the power of the Playstation 5!  And since I haven’t noticed it, it must be working!

Wait, hold on, what’s this setting in the options menu?

Continue reading →

Not even Wreckfest can resist the allure of zombies

, | News

Wreckfest is having a Carmegeddon event. The latest update to Wreckfest adds the Bleak City and Devil’s Canyon tracks from Carmegaddeon, complete with pixelated zombies to run over. Participate in the time-limited tournament mode and you could grab the infamous “Eagle-R” car in-game to keep in your garage. Both new tracks offer free roam versions made for deathmatches, and Bleak City also has a reverse race layout.

Old World: So you’re in a hurry?

, | Game diaries

It can take a long time for your cities in Old World to finish whatever they’re doing.  Whether you’re producing a worker, a scout, a military unit, walls, a treasury, or a gardener for your lavender grove, it can take literally years.  Sometimes as many as a dozen!  Who has time for that?  Which is where hurrying comes in.  It’s a tradition in strategy games like this.  If you want that settler now, you can have it.  So long as you pay extra.  

But like many elements of Old World, it doesn’t work like you might expect, and it’s not very well documented.  You can puzzle over the tooltips, but the overall concept isn’t explained very well.  Here’s what Old World has to say about itself: “Hurrying can be unlocked with Laws, Archetypes, or Family Classes.”  Not terribly helpful.  So let me explain hurrying in the kind of detail you need to actually take advantage of it.

Continue reading →

The scourge of roleplaying games is coming to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

, | News

Ubisoft is adding level-scaling to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. The next planned update for the Viking action roleplaying game will include five options for letting your game’s enemies grow in power with your Eivor. The “Default” setting will play like the current vanilla game where bad guys’ power levels will be generally set by the area of the map they’re in, with a bit of padding for areas you have out-leveled. The “Off” setting will be similar, but there will be no assistance given to lower-level goons. “Constant” will have your enemies level with you. Your guess is as good as mine on the “Nightmarish” or “Hard” options, but I’ll wager that they involve making the game a bit like ice-skating uphill.

The next update for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is planned for July 27th.