Thursday, 3 September 2020

Rocket League won't need PS+ or Switch Online once it goes free-to-play (but it will need Xbox Live)

Rocket League is going free-to-play in mid-September, and as Psyonix prepare the major update that will enable this, they've also confirmed that the game will no longer require a PlayStation Plus subscription on PlayStation or Nintendo Switch Online subscription in order to play online on those platforms. You will, however, still need Xbox Live Gold if you're on Xbox One.

This is, of course, entirely in keeping with each platform's policy on free-to-play games. Sony made and exception for free-to-play games at the start of the generation, ensuring that they don't require a PS+ sub to let people hop online and play, and Nintendo followed suit when they launched Nintendo Switch Online. Microsoft, however, has been consistent in requiring Xbox Live Gold subs for all online play. We still hope that's a policy the company reconsiders going into the next generation.

In addition to this, the update will merge the Rocket ID in-game friends list into the Epic Friends system, transferring them over to Epic's unified cross-platform multiplayer system.

All of this is happening because Epic Games bought Psyonix last year. Since then, Epic have shifted the game's monetisation model bit by bit to conform more closely with the one that they set out for Fortnite.

The update will also overhaul the tournaments and challenges in the game, unifying the schedule of Rocket Pass, Competitive Seasons and Tournaments throughout the game, and with Season 1 starting as the free-to-play update goes live. Existing players will have new ranks to aim for, the new highest competitive rank being Supersonic Legend, while newcomers will be greeted by a new tutorial that teaches the basic HUD, button layout and presents some New Driver Challenges to unlock items that were a part of the paid version of the game.

Speaking of which, let's look back at our original review for Rocket League, in which Jim was full of praise.

Bar this one niggling issue, everything else about Rocket League is superb. Sure, Psyonix could have perhaps been a bit more daring yet the safe route has certainly paid off. With the foundation now set, hopefully the developer will start to experiment as it begins rolling out the first of its free content updates.

You can read the full Rocket League review here, but a lot has changed since then.

Source: Psyonix


Star Horizon Review

Star Horizon is an on-rails space shooter that takes players through an intergalactic struggle for power. You take control of John, a simple private space pilot, and much like John, Star Horizon is a simple experience that never really tries anything overly original or Interesting.

Right from the off, Star Horizon tries to provide a winding narrative by giving the player choices during a mission. These choices are mostly quite superficial, changing the dialogue rather than having an overarching effect on the mission structure. I was hoping for something similar to the original Star Fox game, with a multitude of levels available depending on your gameplay choices and actions, but what Star Horizons provides falls short of that.

Each mission tasks you with battling through the numerous enemy combatants you encounter in space. Missiles, lasers and other various weapons fill your arsenal and you fire away at the enemies using an on-screen reticle . The only problem is that the reticle doesn't actually line up with where your ship is pointing, so I often felt there was a disconnect between where I was aiming and where the ship was aiming. It can be incredibly jarring in places.

This disconnect made it quite difficult to enjoy the combat, especially as it can be quite challenging in places. The balance between trying to attack and defend from incoming attacks is frustrated by the unusual reticule. Where I should have been blown away by these epic set-pieces in space, I was instead left feeling let down by awkward controls and overly difficult enemies.

Difficulty is somewhat mitigated by an upgrade system that enables players to increase the power and efficiency of their ship. You can also unlock new weapons through this system, letting you tailor your ship's loadout as you come up against particular challenges. In the later levels, Star Horizon expects you to grind some precious missions in order to power up enough, which does little to lengthen its short two-hour campaign.

Star Horizon's strongest assets are its visuals. Space fights are filled with explosions and colour, and performance mostly holds up pretty well. I'd have liked to have seen more effort put into the voice acting, which is delivered with very little effort and undermines the rest of the presentation.

At the end of the day, Star Horizon is a port of a mobile game and it shows. Everything from the way it looks to the way it plays feels subpar. Gameplay isn't much fun, the short story is very forgettable and it's just not up to the level of quality I would want from a game on the Nintendo Switch.


Astro detail Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 headset compatibility and updates

If there's one thing that really helps with gaming, it's having a good headset, and so it's always a source of worry when a new generation of console rolls around and you're faced with the possibility that your old headset might simply not be compatible with the new set up.

Thankfully, Astro have revealed just how their various headsets will be able to handle the jump to the next generation, with a mixture of new headset releases, firmware updates, accessories and workarounds. With neither PlayStation 5 nor Xbox Series X featuring a TOSLINK optical audio out, this has created a few conundrums to solve.

To solve this on PlayStation 5, Astro are releasing a $40 HDMI Adapter that will breakout optical audio from the PlayStation 5's HDMI output, enabling sound and voice chat to be mixed.

Meanwhile on Xbox Series X, there will be firmware updates released to add USB support for the headsets on Xbox Series X – the Xbox One is notorious for not having universal USB headset support.

You can also, as a general rule of thumb for all headsets, look to see if you can use an optical passthrough via your TV, or switch/continue to simply use the 3.5mm jack on your game controller.

Here's the lowdown for all the Astro headsets:

Xbox Series X

  • A10 Headset
    • Gen 1 – Supports game sound and voice chat via the 3.5mm port on the Xbox Controller.
  • A20 Wireless
    • Gen 1 – Requires a firmware update which enables game sound and voice chat over USB.
    • Gen 2 – Requires an included USB transmitter to transmit game audio and voice chat.
  • A40 and A40 TR Headsets
    • Gen 1-4 – Supports game sound and voice chat via the 3.5mm port on the Xbox Controller.
  • MixAmp Pro TR
    • Gen 3 & Gen 4 – Requires a MixAmp firmware update which enables game sound and voice chat over USB.
  • A50 Wireless + Base Station
    • Gen 3 & Gen 4 – Requires headset and base station firmware updates which enable game sound and voice chat over USB.
  • Other MixAmps
    • M60 – Supports game sound and voice chat via the 3.5mm port on the Xbox Controller.
    • M80 – Supports game sound and voice chat via the 3.5mm port on the Xbox Controller.

PlayStation 5

  • A10 Headset
    • Gen 1 – Supports game sound and voice chat via the 3.5mm port on the PS5 Controller.
  • A20 Wireless
    • Gen 1 – Supports game sound and voice chat via USB. Requires HDMI Adapter for mixing.
    • Gen 2 – Requires an included USB transmitter to transmit game audio and voice chat.
  • A40 and A40 TR Headsets
    • Gen 1-4 – Supports game sound and voice chat via the 3.5mm port on the PS5 Controller.
  • MixAmp Pro TR 
    • Gen 3 & Gen 4 – Supports game sound and voice chat via USB. Requires HDMI Adapter for mixing.
  • A50 Wireless + Base Station 
    • Gen 3 & Gen 4 – Supports game sound and voice chat via USB. Requires HDMI Adapter for mixing.

Source: Astro


Dead by Daylight will get free upgrades to PS5 and Xbox Series X

Dead By Daylight developer Behaviour Interactive is jumping on the next-gen bandwagon, announcing that the game will be coming to next-gen consoles PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X later this year and that players will be receiving free upgrades.

 

Dead by Daylight will get a bit of added spit and polish in the process, receiving improved graphics over the current gen versions and with the promise of regular updates continuing on next-gen. The game will run at 4K and 60fps, but this is part of a major graphical overhaul on all platforms. The aim is to improve the lighting and VFX as well as the modelling, textures and animations. In other words, pretty much everything! This is already underway as part of the team's development programme and Chapter and Archives roadmap.

Additionally, if you're already playing and upgrade, you'll be able to pick up exactly where you left off within a console family. This follows on from the Cross-Play and Cross-Friends work that was implemented earlier in the summer, and will also see Cross-Progression  letting you take your progress over to Stadia Switch and Steam with a BHVR Account.

It's the kind of no-nonsense upgrade that we love to see around here, with none of the hidden next-gen price hikes and cross-gen re-releases that publishers are getting up to, despite Microsoft's push for seamless cross-generational ownership. It's also quite necessary for a smaller company like Behaviour to do this kind of thing, helping to maintain a healthy player base and hopefully getting a bit of a buzz around the launch of the new generation in November that draws in more players.

It's also an opportunity to snatch up some more of the audience that has been lured in by competing asymmetrical horror games. The recently released Predator: Hunting Grounds (which scored a decent 6 out of 10 in our review) has been popular, while Friday the 13th: The Video Game went toe to toe with Dead by Daylight back in 2017. Here you can read our face off between Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th here, though it's safe to say that Dead by Daylight in particular has continued to grow and evolve since then, while Friday the 13th was bogged down and ended with licensing issues back in 2018.

Source: press release


Fall Guys tease Big Yeetus to "shake things up"

Big Yeetus is not your friend, but it looks like it could be hilarious and do exactly what Mediatonic want it to do and spicy up the action of Fall Guys with a little bit of added randomness. Now that we're a month after the game's initial release (well, we will be on Friday), people should be quite intimately familiar with the various race levels, the intricacies of See-Saw, how to jump through hoops and grab tails. Adding a giant swingy hammer somewhere random could add just a little extra something.

Earlier this week, Mediatonic wrapped up a campaign to raise money for Special Effect with an auction to create a branded in-game outfit for Fall Guys. In the end this saw a combined donation of $1 million by G2 Esports, Aim Lab, and streamers Mr Beast and Ninja. Special Effect works to enable those with physical disabilities to play a wider variety of games through custom game controllers and tools like EyeMine that allows for playing with eye-control. They also work with developers to build more accessible games in the first place.

Fall Guys has been an absolute sensation for the team at developer Mediatonic and publisher Devolver Digital, with the companies revealing that they've sold over 2 million copies on Steam in the game's first week. That's before you take into account however many people have been playing via PlayStation 4, where it was free on PlayStation Plus in August. That led to some major server issues around launch, as they shored up the servers and added capacity ahead of the weekend. Thankfully things have been fairly steady since then and the team are now focussed on creating content for the medieval-themed Season 2 and beyond.

In our Fall Guys review we said:

Full of cute and cuddly jelly beans bumbling into each other in a race for the crown, Fall Guys is just about the most wholesome battle royale imaginable, and a whole lot of fun.

Fall Guys is out now for PlayStation 4 and PC via Steam.


The PlayStation Store Essential Picks sale features The Last of Us Part II and up to 50% off

Sony have kicked off an Essential Picks promotion on the PlayStation Store, offering discounts on games both new and old. They promise discounts of up to 50% off, with the headline act being The Last of Us Part II (which obviously doesn't have 50% off but a more modest 15% discount).

The range of games is pretty broad, ranging from older hits like the Batman: Return to Arkham and BioShock: The Collection remasters and some moderate stinkers like NASCAR Heat 5 (is this really "essential", Sony? Really?), but does also include more recent bonafide hits like Borderlands 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled and Assassin's Creed Odyssey.

The sale is now on and running until 23:59PM local time on Wednesday 16th September. Below is the list of games included on both sides of the Atlantic, but there are also region specific discounts. To see the full range of games on offer, head here for the EU PlayStation Store, and head here for the North American PlayStation Store.

  • Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown – Deluxe Edition
  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey
  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey – Gold Edition
  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey – Season Pass
  • Assassin's Creed Origins – Deluxe Edition
  • Batman: Return to Arkham
  • Battlefield V
  • BioShock: The Collection
  • Borderlands 3 – Season Pass
  • Borderlands 3 – Super Deluxe Edition
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III – Zombies Chronicles Deluxe
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – Battle Pass Edition
  • Code Vein
  • Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled
  • Days Gone
  • Days Gone – Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Death Stranding
  • Death Stranding: Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – Digital Deluxe Edition
  • DOOM + Wolfenstein II Bundle
  • Dragon Ball FighterZ – FighterZ Edition
  • Dreams
  • For Honor – Marching Fire Edition
  • For Honor: Complete Edition
  • God of War
  • God of War – Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Gran Turismo Sport Spec II
  • Grand Theft Auto V and Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack Bundle
  • HITMAN – Game of the Year Edition
  • Hitman 2 – Gold Edition
  • Hitman HD Enhanced Collection
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds
  • Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
  • Journey: Collector's Edition
  • Jurassic World Evolution – Jurassic Park Edition
  • Just Cause 4: Complete Edition
  • Marvel's Spider-Man – The City That Never Sleeps
  • Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of the Year Edition
  • Marvel's Spider-Man: Silver Lining
  • Marvel's Spider-Man: The Heist
  • Marvel's Spider-Man: Turf Wars
  • Megalodon Shark Cash Card
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War
  • NASCAR Heat 5
  • NASCAR HEAT 5 – July Pack 2
  • NASCAR Heat 5: Gold Edition
  • Need for Speed Heat: Deluxe Edition
  • Nioh 2 Season Pass
  • Red Dead Redemption 2: Special Edition
  • Resident Evil Revelations 1 & 2 Bundle
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration
  • Skyforge – Firestarter Quickplay Pack
  • Skyforge: 105000 Argents
  • Skyforge: 11750 Argents
  • Skyforge: 24000 Argents
  • Skyforge: 50000 Argents
  • Skyforge: Archer Quickplay Pack
  • Skyforge: Kinetic Quickplay Pack
  • Skyforge: Starter Pack 3.0
  • Sleeping Dogs – Definitive Edition
  • Sniper Elite 4
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – Deluxe Upgrade
  • Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
  • The Last of Us Part II
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands – Ultimate Edition
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands – Year 2 Gold Edition
  • Tour de France 2020
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
  • Warface – Essential Pack
  • Watch Dogs 2
  • Watch Dogs 2 – Gold Edition
  • WipEout Omega Collection
  • XCOM 2 Collection
  • Zombie Army 4: Dead War

Source: PS Blog


Wasteland 3 Review

Wasteland 3 starts as it means to go on. This isometric post-apocalyptic RPG drops players right in the middle of a gunfight against a number of marauders. Before you can get into the thick of it though, you're tasked with creating a characters or simply choose one of the pre-baked character duos to take on your journey. It's a journey that I'm still fairly close to the start of, but given time, this review in progress will be followed by a full review.

Note: This review is an update to our Review in Progress posted last week.

In the early stages of Wasteland 3, the narrative and gameplay primarily focus the player's efforts on building the Ranger Base. This is your main hub in the world and it's your job to build it up by employing and acquiring the help of strangers throughout the wasteland. Sometimes it's quite obvious that someone will join you, but I've also found that you can be rewarded for going out of your way to help someone. It's an engaging plot device that weaves both gameplay and narrative together in a way that rewards your engagement.

The character customisation is deep in Wasteland 3, with each playable character having the ability to specialise across a number of different play styles. I went with the punk-rockers – cause why wouldn't you? – who come with a mix of close quarters melee combat and ranged attacks. That's just one of the character types though and there are plenty of ways to build a team to fit your style.

With my finalised characters, I was introduced to the heart of Wasteland 3's gameplay; the combat. If you've ever played the series' previous entries, you'll know what to expect, but for the uninitiated Wasteland 3 plays similarly to the XCOM series. Fights take place across a gridded map, with movement, actions and attacks using the limited amount of AP each character has. Each fight is a balance between aggression, defence and balancing those ability points so you don't end up leaving a character in a compromised position.

Truthfully, it's a whole lot of fun. It's not quite as hard as something like XCOM, but I like it a lot for that reason. I found that Wasteland 3 only typically punished me when I made silly mistakes, like running into a battle without considering positioning or standing a little too close to the explosive barrels that litter battlefields. With some clever thinking and a little foresight, you can really give yourself a tactical advantage on the battlefield. At one point I found myself defending a family from a murderous gang (who I'd angered by killing the leader's brother). By making the decision to gain higher ground with my sniper, I was able to effectively take their gang down with relative ease. It's in these moments that Wasteland 3 truly shines, providing some of the best turn-based combat I've seen so far this year.

The stellar combat is only narrowly outshone by the game's brilliant narrative system. Wasteland 3 uses your decisions to shape the wasteland around you, and this pays off in ways that are both big and small.. There are around ten different endings that you can reach, with some decisions having massive effects on certain portions of the game. Even after half a dozen hours you can already start to see the results of some of your decisions playing out, and you continue to see that impact throughout the game.

Dialogue and narrative have always been a core focus of the Wasteland series, but the introduction of voiced dialogue in Wasteland 3 is by far one of the best improvements the game could make. Voiced dialogue adds a new layer of believability, which in turn further immerses you in the world that inXile have created. The solid voice performance mixed with some great writing has made me laugh out loud on more than a few occasions through the game.

Moral choices are fairly common in gaming now, but Wasteland 3 distinguishes itself in how it uses them to great effect. It generally presents you with situations and choices that fall within a morally grey area. There are certainly times when it's obvious who the evil character is, but there are also moments in which you can empathise with all parties involved, ultimately making the decisions so much more difficult. There's a particularly tough one early on that resulted in me killing an entire group of people due to the actions of their leader, while a later decisions had me choosing between the lives of innocents and my mission to protect a special set of armour to curry favour with the local ruler. Not the greatest moral quandary, but a touch decision nonetheless.

I really enjoy the little touches in Wasteland 3. Whether it's a certain dialogue tree, a random encounter or one of the many side-quests, everything feels completely fleshed out. There's so much to do and see in this world, and the fact that your presence shapes as much as it does sets a new bar for RPG titles of this nature.

The world map is yet another aspect of Wasteland 3 that receives a huge overhaul. Gone is the static map and symbol of Wasteland 2, instead replacing it with an overworld hub and a vehicle that your gang of explorers can travel in. Making your way between the different areas is accompanied by a radio that plays both catchy tunes and distress calls from people around the world. You can also take your transport into battle, using its powerful gun to decimate enemies on the field, but should it take too much damage you'll then have to repair it.

Wasteland 3 isn't without its issues. Performance can suffer at times, where enemies can take quite a while to decide to attack in combat, leaving me not knowing what was going on, and The Bizarre area dropped my frame rat down into the teens. Considering I have a Ryzen 5 3600 and Nvidia RTX 2060 well in excess of the game's recommended specs, that shouldn't really be happening, though thankfully performance issues outside of The Bizarre are quite sporadic.

I've also found myself growing a little frustrated with traversing the world. It's quite easy to lose where your characters are while exploring an area, only to have to go back to them and point them towards the rest of your team. It's a small issue that becomes frustrating further into the game as you explore more complex areas. Navigation could do with a little bit of tweaking just to make it a little more user friendly.

Wasteland 3 also features co-op gameplay, letting two players team up to take on the story together, or branch off and forge your own paths through the world. However, only one of you can take part in a conversation at a given time, and there's no ability to listen in. As you can imagine, it's quite difficult to follow what's going on if you aren't privy to the conversations involving the story and missions, and I'd like to see that improved, especially since co-op combat is very enjoyable.


Pokémon Go drops support for older iPhones and Android devices in October update

The inexorable march of technology will come to bite fans of Pokémon Go that are playing on older devices, as Niantic have revealed that they will be dropping support for a range of older devices in an update this October.

The affected devices are those still running Android 5 (codenamed Lollipop), iOS 10 and iOS 11. However, that will also extend to the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6, both of which can be updated beyond iOS 11, but will do so with reduced functionality and support for system extensions.

In order to still be able to play Pokémon Go, you will need to have Android 6 "Marshmallow" or iOS 12 – so long as you have an iPhone 6S or newer. That effectively means that Niantic are still supporting devices from the last five years.

Android 6 was released in October 2015, and while Android phone manufacturers have a spotty track record of updating their phones to the latest OS, that's still a broad range of Android devices that will still have compatibility.

Similarly, the iPhone 6S came out in September 2015 and is still actively supported by Apple with iOS updates. It's able to update to iOS 13 and will be supported with iOS 14 when that arrives in the next couple of months. It's a bit of a shame that phones that can be updated to the new minimum iOS version are being left behind, but they aren't able to take advantage of Apple's emerging AR technology, for example, which has been folded into Pokémon Go over the last few years.

Source: Pokémon Go

 

 


Marvel's Avengers post-launch hero Kate Bishop's Hawkeye revealed

Marvel's Avengers is out this week – playable now if you've forked out for the Deluxe Edition or on Friday 4th September if you don't fancy that – but Square Enix have marched ahead with a fresh War Table stream to showcase more of what players can expect to come in the weeks and months after release for this live game.

The biggest news? Well that the regular old "Hawkguy" Hawkeye is going to be joined by the much cooler, much younger Kate Bishop Hawkeye character down the line.

Both Hawkeye characters and any additional areas and missions are coming as free post-launch updates to the game, but will be accompanied by a Battle Pass scheme for earning cosmetics. Head here for more details on Marvel's Avengers Challenge Cards.

Kate's character-specific Operation – Taking AIM – will arrive in late October, bringing a new villain and new mystery. Bishop took on the mantle of Hawkeye after being mentored by the original Hawkeye Clint Barton, but she comes with her own Heroic Skills and takedowns that lean on her background as an Olympic-caliber gymnast and master archer.

Beyond this, the hour-long War Table stream showcased a bunch of high-level mission types that you'll have to battle through in the game's endgame: Villain Sectors, SHIELD Vaults, AIM's Secret Lab, and Mega Hives.

Villain Sectors will have you battling powerful bosses, and will be a good way to grind your way up to the power-level cap of 150 at launch. SHIELD Vaults, meanwhile, will appeal to those looking for fancy resources and gear. Then there's AIM Secret Labs, which will be once-a-week raids into AIM's labs building up to massive boss fights. Finally, Mega Hives will see you test how far you can get through increasingly difficult levels, seeing how far you can get while going through your line up of available heroes.

We've been delving into the game since its early access release yesterday, and will surely have some thoughts to share with you all soon on how Square Enix's take on the Marvel universe has come together.

Marvel's Avengers is out for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Google Stadia on 4th September.

Source: press release


The Signifier investigates the subconscious in a tech-noir thriller

If you think modern-day technology is great for invading your privacy, as smartphones and computers act as a conduit into our minds and habits, just wait until the brain scanning technology of The Signifier is invented. Now your whole brain, your memories, your feelings, everything about you can just be dumped to a hard drive. Cool…

Thankfully, the governments of the world see fit to put some kinds of checks and balances in place here. The Technology Safeguard Bureau (TSB) is founded to try and protect democracy from the abuse of this technology – huh, haven't we heard that one before? – and international regulations are put in place to try and protect a semblance of data privacy… and yet the march of technology continues on, this brain scanning tech going hand in hand with the advancement of AI, new ventures into automated architecture and construction, and so much more, all trying to hide something from the prying eyes of the government.

So when a VP at Go-At, one of the biggest companies in the world, ends up dead of a suspected suicide, Tom the TSB agent turns to Frederick Russell – and his experimental deep brain scanner, the Dreamwalker – to seize on the opportunity to ferret out some clues as to what really happened and what Go-At have really been up to.

The Dreamwalker is a fascinating bit of technology. Dumping the hard drive into the computer for the AI Eevee then trying to process everything, it allows for Russell to step into snippets of her consciousness. Having visited her opulent apartment (some strings were pulled with the cops to allow for Russell to get a glimpse of her flat and an impression that something doesn't quite add up about the suicide story.

Asking Eevee to reconstruct the last memories that Johanna Kast (the Go-At VP) had drops Russell back into that same apartment. However, it looks very different. Instead of glitzy high-rise fanciness and modernity, it looks more like you've zoomed a bit too far into the 3D maps generated from satellite imagery and photogrammetry – something that has actually been done in some areas. Everything is low poly, lacking in detail, but giving the vague mottled impression of the apartment it represents. It's utterly in keeping with the technology though. Memories are often quite hazy, easy to manipulate, and it thematically fits that for Eevee to reconstruct an environment from a snapshot of memories, there would be a lot left to the imagination. Wandering around this environment, Russell quips that Eevee always struggles with glass, the view to the outside world just blurry white windows, the table a fuzzy grey shape.

Something's not quite off about this place though. There are some glitches, things that still don't quite add up – the time of day simply isn't consistent with the estimated time of death. Russell has to go deeper, to go beyond the objective reconstruction and into the subjective reconstruction that leaves nothing filtered out and can leave more perception errors.

It's darker; it's more twisted like a surrealist painting that takes the familiar form of a squared-off tablet and warps it. Here Russell can dig in and try to hunt down bits of corrupted data that Eevee simply couldn't figure out, like how current machine learning often struggles to figure what a dog is until it's been trained with enough dog images. Finding them in the world presents a trippy puzzle where you manipulate a shapeshifting representation of the data, spinning it around, winding time back and forth, trying to figure out what it is both from how it looks and how it sounds. The ticking, the shape, the memory not being at the right time; the data could only be a clock, and taking it over to where the clock is missing from the world allows Eevee to give it the context it deserves.

Of course, this being the subjective world, the clock leads to something utterly surreal: a ladder of time that allows Russell to climb up to reach the actual time of Joanna's death, finding a key clue that shows that she was not alone at the time of her death. Knocking at the door to her flat, a picture of a dog following you around (remember what I said about AI's struggling with dogs?) the symbolism of spiders webs ensnaring Joanna's bed, and another data fragment that reveals a hand floating by her bed.

It's a case that sees Russell drawn into a multi-layered conspiracy within this world. Murder investigations weren't the point of Russell's research – those are more academic, exploring a particular branch of brain scanning and AI technology – but he was forced into this situation by signing a collaborative agreement with the TSB to enable his research to continue.

What's intriguing is that you'll be afforded the opportunity to put yourself in Russell's situation. Where do you stand on the use of this new technology? Does the TSB's own manipulative use of it amount to the kinds of abuse that they are supposedly sworn to protect against? You can play this out through deciding how much information you give to Tom, how you'll navigate branching dialogue with other characters, how you'll navigate the deepening web of intrigue that Russell finds himself in, and ultimately how you try to disentangle it.

There's plenty of parallels to the real world coursing through The Signifier's veins, from the way it represents the strengths and weaknesses of the brain-scanning technology, to how it imagines the various ways this could be used and abused. Through it all, I'm looking forward to unpicking a conspiratorial thriller that could shape the world.


The Signifier is coming to PC on 15th October, with a planned jump to consoles in 2021.


Before Marvel's Avengers, there was Marvel Ultimate Alliance

Marvel Ultimate Alliance was by no means the first video game outing for The Avengers, yet with the release of the ambitious Marvel's Avengers from Square Enix, this classic comic-inspired dungeon crawler is still fondly remembered long after its release more than a decade ago.

Developed by Raven Software, Marvel Ultimate Alliance can be viewed as the third instalment of a Marvel roleplaying game series which started with the superb X-Men Legends and X-Men Legends 2: Rise of Apocalypse.

However, with the X-Men's popularity waning as we slipped into the late noughties, Activision and Raven broadened their scope for the follow-up. Marvel Ultimate Alliance would not only feature key X-Men characters such as Wolverine, Iceman, and Storm, but Spider-Man too as well as The Avengers and The Fantastic Four with plenty of other favourite cameos.

Although no longer available to purchase due to pesky licensing agreements, Marvel Ultimate Alliance and its direct sequel re-released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Despite some technical issues, the games themselves hold up just fine. The top-down dungeon crawling of the original relies more on persistent button bashing rather than superhero strategies depicted in comics, yet there's a certain fun to be had from running each gauntlet, battering a cavalcade of villains ripped from the pages of our favourite comics. Especially with a few friends in the same room.

2009's Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 then saw Vicarious Visions take the helm in a more polished and robust sequel centred around the Civil War storyline. Grittier than its predecessor, the action here was more deliberate and involved. One particularly great touch was the new fusion mechanic allowing two heroes to perform a special attack, unique to each pairing. For example, combining Captain America with Iron Man would trigger a set piece move in which the former uses his shield to reflect a concentrated beam, wiping the screen of all enemies.

Then there was the story, too. You could choose whether to be pro and anti registration which would lock out certain characters during a playthrough. In general, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 crammed in an impressive amount of contextual dialogue that would change depending on which hero you had control of in that particular scene.

While you can't pick them up on current systems anymore, you can still find second hand physical copies of both of these games on past generation hardware and they're definitely worth exploring if you don't mind their repetitive nature and some rough edges.

It would be rude of us not to mention Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, but there's good reason why we haven't thus far. It's a markedly different experience compared to these first two games. It's technically a sequel, sure, but it's one developed by Team Ninja and with a different design ethos. Still, the Nintendo Switch exclusive scored a mighty 8/10 in our review. Excelsior!

With Marvel's Avengers launching on September 4th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, have you been revisiting any superhero video games to get you in the mood?


Indie developer Vlambeer disbands on its 10th anniversary

Two-man indie developer Vlambeer have announced that they're shutting down after ten years of making games. The duo – Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman – founded their game studio after dropping out of their game design course, and would go on to find great success with a string of popular indie hits, but on their 10th birthday, they're calling it a day and going their separate ways.

Valmbeer state, "It's not a sad day for us, but the happy conclusion to a whirlwind decade filled with screenshake. It feels like we've achieved what we set out to do – as a studio, as a voice, and as individuals, and we are extremely grateful for these past years."

A whirlwind first few years saw plenty of praise for games like Super Crate Box, Ridiculous Fishing and Luftrausers, but since Nuclear Throne in 2015, the duo's output has slowed to a crawl. In fact, I've seen a fair bit of criticism for not keeping the various versions and releases of their games up to date.

However, there's still some unfinished business in the form of ULTRABUGS, which will be their final project as a development pair.

Oh, and they've also kicked off a sale on Steam and released a prototype game called FFFLOOD, in which you rain down first form high orbit.

What's next for the two is likely a continuation of what they have been up to over the past five years. 2020's shutdown of international travel aside, Rami Ismail is best known for his ever-presence at video game events around the world and advocating for small independent developers and helping minorities and those in developing nations enter the games industry. Jan Willem Nijman, meanwhile, has already been collaborating outside of Vlambeer, teaming up on the popular mini-adventure game Minit, and currently working on Disc Room.

Source: Vlambeer


Elden: Path of the Forgotten Review

My first impression of Elden: Path of the Forgotten was one of confusion. After the initial cutscene (which doesn't give much context for the story) you are thrust into the gameplay and the unforgiving map. Despite this void of context, the eerie landscape invites you in and the satisfaction of progressing still spurs you on through the game.

Being dropped into the action is a pretty common way of opening a game, but a little world building can usually be found as you progress by talking to NPCs or written text. This is not the case in Elden. There are no NPC's apart from the ones you fight, and unfortunately they aren't up for much conversation, and any signs and texts you find through the game are written in Elden, a language that's illegible to both the character and the player. This indirect method of storytelling does everything to add to the confusion and mystery of the game; it creates a vacuum where the storyline would usually be and was frustrating in the lack of context for what I was doing.

That's the intent behind Elden: Path of The Forgotten, to explore non-traditional storytelling using a combination of technical combat skill and foreign languages to tell a story that you may never fully understand. Exploring a land that is foreign in both terrain, language and enemies creates a bubble of confusion surrounding the game, full of questions that may or may not ever be answered.

The 8-bit inspired landscape was dark and eerie, and while enticing you to go on and explore, it also felt like a warning not to continue. The shapes often merge together, making a wall seem like a path onward and vice versa. This maze-like effect adds wonderfully to the confusion of the world, creating multiple paths that could easily be missed and clearings that almost invite a wave of enemies that never come. This distortion within the map is complemented by the score. Equally eerie and ghostly, it creates a haunting atmosphere that is both beautiful and terrifying.

The controls are simple and accessible, with basic movement, attack and a dodge roll. You can change your weapons, allowing for a different style of attack, and eventually gain the ability to cast simple magic as well. Despite the upgrades, the controls are forgivingly straightforward. The enemies, however, are not.

Enemies have a range of attacks, from simple melee to unleashing earthquakes that target you specifically. The effects that these attacks have are more than a simple loss of HP, but can temporarily distort you vision in ways that feel almost psychedelic. Enemies come in fairly large groups, meaning that you can't button mash your way through battles. If that's your go to technique, you'll need to practice patience and observe the different monsters, and time your attacks.

There's definitely some strategy required, which may have you repeating certain areas a few times to get right. This can be frustrating, but is incredibly rewarding once you successfully complete a fight. A slight challenge is the scarcity of save points, which adds to the challenging nature of the game. While that can be a pain, it makes each save point you do come across give you a great sense of relief at finding a respite from the unforgiving landscape.


UFC 4 update 2.03 patch notes, read them here

Ah, nothing says Wednesday morning than coffee, a bacon roll, and some fresh patch notes straight out the oven. Full of vitamins and fibre these patch notes will keep you going until lunch time, and just 150 calories as well!

UFC 4 Patch Notes 2.03

  • Added ability for the Sub Fighter to trigger an immediate escape after denying the Backpack transition.
  • Added Stamina tax to attack for Low Single Takedown denial.
  • Fixed an issue with the Stamina drain on Headlock denials.
  • Removed Headlock stamina drain from the submissions entry animation.
  • Tuned stamina and damage on the Back Drop takedown.
  • Reduced rate of Stamina Recovery during Ground and Pound.
  • Fixed an issue where escaping choke submissions drained too much stamina.
  • Fixed various issues with Ground and Pound defense against flurries.
  • Fixing an issue with blocking after beeing hit, during Ground and Pound.
  • Fixed an issue with damage received after posting strikes in Ground and Pound.
  • Removed Haptic Feedback from Online modes
  • Fixed an issue causing takedown feints to count in stats
  • Greatly reduced the rate of the purple screen bug

The patch weighs in at around 500mb depending on your platform and is out now for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

The game scored an impressive 9/10 in our review, "UFC 4 is an evolution over UFC 3. A much better and more cohesive online, a better system for advancing your created fighters, a career mode that has a bit more depth, and gameplay that opens up the series to more people, makes UFC 4 the game that UFC 3 should have been," said Aran.

If you are looking for the Trophy list from the game then we have you covered, you can find that here. At a glance, there seems to be a abundance of silvers up for grabs here mainly tied to the singleplayer Career mode. There are some gameplay specific bronze trophies in there as well as a couple of achievements tied to online play.

Source: Discord


Assetto Corsa Competizione's September console update patch notes are here

505 Games' Antonela Pounder has stopped by to drop off the patch notes for the September update to Assetto Corsa Competizione. "While we might have been a little quiet recently, that doesn't mean we've been standing still. Behind the scenes, our developers have been working hard to bring improvements and fixes to game," she comments.

PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players can expect this update to launch later this week, here are the patch notes.

GENERAL
Wheel profiles updated for all brands
Force feedback fine-tuned.
Max steer lock changes to Logitech G923.
Force feedback enabled for some additional Fanatec wheels.
Headlights at night have improvements to quality.
Memory crash fixed after returning to main menu from a race.
Crash fixed when selecting some cars within a race.
Memory crash fixed when going into a race.

GAMEPLAY
Added driver/team customisation for use with custom created cars.

UI
Real-time track overview while in the garage.
Text and localisation changes for all languages.

MULTIPLAYER
Client: server car groups displayed in server list.

AUDIO
Tweaked curbs and astroturf volume in onboard cameras.
Better organisation in sample reference structure.
Better audio feedback for brake temperature and wear level.
General fine-tuning.

We gave the game 6/10 in our review, "With a career mode lacking in substance, strange bugs and a limited set of content, Assetto Corsa Competizione is hard to recommend. Perhaps in 2021, with a slew of patches and DLC expansions it will be in a better place, but for now, Assetto Corsa Competizione is a superlative solo driving experience trapped in a flawed video game," said our racing games expert, Thomas.

The console version of the game suffered a number of concessions compared to the PC version, though thankfully the physics and the game audio remain untouched . Instead, it's the graphics that will suffer.

Assetto Corsa Competizione runs at 30fps on all PS4 and Xbox One consoles – a fate similar to the games coming out of Milestone after they also made a jump to Unreal Engine 4. Here's the run down of the resolutions and options.

  • Xbox One – 900p at 30fps
  • PS4 – 1080p at 30fps
  • PS4 Pro – 1800p upscaled at 30fps
  • Xbox One X – or 2160p at 30fps

Source: 505 Games


Microsoft leak the Xbox Series S again

Video gaming's worst kept secret, the Xbox Series S, has been confirmed once again by Microsoft themselves. Twitter user @BraviaryBrendan purchased a new Xbox controller and it included a Game Pass Ultimate trial code which states it can be used on Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One, and Windows 10.

The long rumoured Xbox Series S, the cheaper "Lockheart" variant of Microsoft's next-gen console, has been leaked from numerous sources including others that have got their hands on the updated Xbox controller designed for the Xbox Series X.

Twitter user Zak S was able to purchase the controller, with its subtly modified form factor, redesigned D-pad and new Share button. The packaging for the controller reveals that is it compatible with "Xbox Series X | S".

The Xbox Series S is expected to be a lower powered version of the Xbox Series X, keeping many of the same attributes, such as the ultra-fast SSD storage and Zen 2 CPU, but compromising on the GPU side of things. Where the Xbox Series X is expected to deliver a native 4K resolution, higher frame rates and ray tracing, the cut back "Lockheart" could sacrifice these to reach a lower price point for those buyers without a 4K TV or without as exacting demands from their games graphics, while retaining the minimal loading times and enhanced game worlds that the CPU could provide.

The availability of an Xbox Series S also helps to explain why Microsoft ceased production of their current most powerful console, the Xbox One X. While the Xbox One S remains in production, it will eventually be left behind by next gen game designs, the weakness of its CPU likely to be a key factor in this. That CPU weakness would have remained on Xbox One X.

Not only will this be a future proof option, it will also allow Microsoft to aim for a lower entry price to the next generation, potentially helping to bring more players into their next-gen plans by aiming $100 or more lower than what Sony can manage with the PlayStation 5.


AT&T scrap plans to sell Suicide Squad publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

After a few months of uncertainty it appears that Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment parent company, AT&T, has dropped plans to sell the video game publishing house with Bloomberg reporting the company felt it was "too valuable to unload".

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment had been valued at $4 billion and a number of big companies were rumoured to have shown interest including Activision, Take Two, and EA. It seems Covid may have just saved the company as video games sales have surged in the past few months and AT&T is said to have recognised the "business's growth potential" and took it off the table. A recent restructure of company may have also helped and there may have been complications in negotiations as many of the games from the studio are based on Warner Bros. properties such as the Lego movie or DC comics.

The news from Bloomberg confirms what we previously learned from a leaked internal email.On August 7th CEO Jason Kilar sent an email to all staff explaining how the company was to be restructured but specifically mentioned that the gaming arm was staying put.

The Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group continues to be led by Chairman Toby Emmerich. Warner Bros. Television Studios group continues to be led by Chairman Peter Roth. Warner Bros. Interactive remains part of the Studios and Networks group, along with our Global Brands and Franchises team including DC led by Pam Lifford, and our Kids, Young Adults and Classics business led by Tom Ascheim, all focused on engaging fans with our brands and franchises through games and other interactive experiences.

AT&T have been looking at ways to cut costs and it seems rather than sell off a specific group they going to perform a major restructure and cut staff numbers instead. AT&T still need to raise a lot of cash to cover a $200 billion debt, but Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment always seemed an odd choice for sale.

Source: Bloomberg


Nvidia's next-gen RTX 3090, RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 GPUs revealed

Nvidia have pulled back the curtain to unveil their next generation of high-end GPUs, promising increased performance at the company's price levels improved ability to process taxing ray-tracing effect, and improved power efficiency. However, it will set you back a pretty penny.

Across the board, they're leaning on established Nvidia technologies like Deep Learning Super Sampling for resolution upscaling and enhancement, and the Tensor cores from the 20 series cards to assist in processing the complex ray traced lighting effects. They're combining these with new innovations, such as faster GDDR6X RAM and PCIe 4.0 connectivity, as well as having on-GPU decompression that collaborates with Microsoft on DirectStorage. As in PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, this will allow the GPU to directly communicate with ultra-fast SSDs to lessen the CPU load and speed up loading.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

The RTX 3080 is the company's new flagship GPU. Priced at $699, it's a replacement for the current RTX 2080 Super, sporting double the performance of the older RTX 2080 with ray tracing, and easily surpassing the RTX 2080 Ti, the current ultra high-end halo product from the current era of Nvidia cards, and boasting single precision performance over two times the Xbox Series X – this isn't actually a good measure of GPU power, it should be said. It's expected to handle 4K at 60FPS with ray tracing.

  • CUDA Cores – 8704
  • Boost Clock – 1.71Ghz
  • VRAM – 10GB
  • Single Precision Performance – 29.8 TFLOPs
  • Tensor Performance FP16 – 238 TFLOPs
  • Ray Tracing Performance – 58 TFLOPs
  • TFP – 320W
  • Release date – 17th September 2020
  • Price – $699

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

Speaking of ultra high-end, that crown now goes to the RTX 3090. This could have fallen into the company's Titan range, which pushes their GPU chipsets to the limit, but is instead part of the GeForce line up. It features a huge 24GB of VRAM, and goes close to three times the TFLOPs of the Xbox Series X. It's got an eye-watering price point to match: $1499… more than double the RTX 3080.

  • CUDA Cores – 10496
  • Boost Clock – 1.7Ghz
  • VRAM – 24GB
  • Single Precision Performance – 35.7 TFLOPs
  • Tensor Performance FP16 – 285 TFLOPs
  • Ray Tracing Performance – 69 TFLOPs
  • TFP – 350W
  • Release date – 24th September 2020
  • Price – $1499

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

And finally, we come to what will actually be most likely to end up in a gaming PC. The RTX 3070 will launch in October with a $499 price, and it's impressively well specced for the price (in the context of recent Nvidia GPU prices, at least). It cuts things back significantly from the 3080, but is still pitched as being slightly more powerful than the RTX 2080 Ti, and having the greatest generational leap in performance at this price point.

  • CUDA Cores – 5888
  • Boost Clock – 1.73Ghz
  • VRAM – 8GB
  • Single Precision Performance – 20.4 TFLOPs
  • Tensor Performance FP16 – 163 TFLOPs
  • Ray Tracing Performance – 40 TFLOPs
  • TFP – 220W
  • Release date – October 2020
  • Price – $499

It's all impressive sounding, though we'll have to wait until reviews drop to see how they actually perform and how they can handle the ever-increasing demands that ray tracing will put on gaming machines. However, when the cheapest of the cards announced today is also at the price point many pundits expect Sony and Microsoft to pick for their new consoles, these are very much high-end luxury gaming items.

Nvidia have had great success at these price points over the last few years though, and these are huge steps forward in performance. The real question is if AMD can respond with their own next-generation of GPU. The company have struggled to compete with Nvidia's halo products for years, and it will take a lot for them to stack up against the 30 series in general with their upcoming RDNA 2 products.

via Anandtech


Bungie detail the new Warlock Shadebinder Stasis subclass

Bungie have revealed further details for one of the new Stasis subclasses for Warlock players in Destiny 2: Beyond Light.  "Each Stasis subclass in Beyond Light will give players the ability to customize abilities like grenades, movement modes, class abilities, and so on with. In addition, we've added new layers of customization with the addition of Aspects and Fragments," say Bungie.

Aspects are physical items from the 'real world' of Destiny 2 such as a crystallized Vex conflux or a robotic Fallen arm and when these are slotted in to your character you get new abilities. I'm not sure how you slot in a Fallen arm in to a Warlock and frankly I don't want to think about it too much.

Many of the Aspects have an extra slot to which Fragments can be added, again these are based on real world items found in the game and add passive perks to your character, but they may also come with penalties. "Aspect upgrades are unique to each Stasis subclass, while Fragment slots are class agnostic; how players combine these two different types of upgrades will lead to a range of customization options," say Bungie.

Here's more from Bungie.

For example, a Warlock finds a Frostpulse Aspect in the world and equips it. This Aspect augments their Rift ability, which now freezes any enemies caught in the field. The Frostpulse Aspect also has a Fragment slot available, allowing further customization. This Warlock decides to slot in the Whisper of Refraction Fragment that replenishes some of their class ability energy upon shattering enemies. They have now set themselves up with a nice 1-2 punch and, if played skillfully, can use this combo frequently.

With its focus on freezing and shattering, the Shadebinder subclass promises to give Guardians yet another reason to love their floaty, book-loving Warlocks. But no matter what class you like, all players will be able to take advantage of Aspects and Fragments that unlock even more ways to make your Guardian yours.

Destiny 2: Beyond Light launches later this year on 10th November.

Source: Bungie


Ubisoft Forward event announced for September

Troubled publisher Ubisoft have announced another Ubisoft Forward event for September 10th at 11:00 AM PDT / 9.00 PM CST / 8.00 PM BST.

"You can see what's in store for games like Watch Dogs: Legion, Hyper Scape, and Rainbow Six Siege, as well as a much-anticipated update on our new IP, Immortals Fenyx Rising, formerly known as Gods & Monsters, and more yet-to-be revealed surprises," say Ubisoft. "If you still can't get enough, stick around after the main show to see deep dives into two unreleased titles, exclusive to this edition of Ubisoft Forward."

There will also be updates from the teams working on Roller Champions, For Honor, The Division 2, and Ghost Recon Breakpoint

You will be able to watch the event at ubisoft.com/ForwardYouTube, or over on Twitch. If you di tune in you can grab some free goodies including XP boosts for For Honor, a charm for Rainbow SIx Siege, and a mask for Watch Dogs Legion. You will need to log in to to your Ubisoft account before you watch to claim the rewards.

The publisher has been rocked by multiple allegations of sexual harassment, racism, and homophobia. Things had quietened down but then at the end last week the publisher's mobile title Tom Clancy's Elite Squad was in the spotlight. In this game, there is an "evil" group opposing the government which the likes of Sam Fisher go up against. So far, standard fare seen in a lot of Ubisoft games. The issue stems from the logo choice for the organisation called Umbra whose mission is to change the system. The logo chosen to represent Umbra is a raised black fist. The same logo that is representative of the Black Lives Matter movement.  You can watch the opening below.

In a statement Ubisoft confirmed it would be removing the imagery from Tom Clancy's Elite Squad:

Imagery that appeared in the opening video sequence of Tom Clancy's Elite Squad featuring a 'raised fist' was insensitive and harmful in both its inclusion and how it was portrayed. We have listened to and appreciate the players and the broader community who have pointed it out and we apologize. This 'raised fist' imagery will be removed in the next title update this Tuesday, September 1 on Android and as soon as possible on iOS.

You may be wondering how that even got in the game, and Bloomberg News' Jason Schrieir has offered an explanation.

The director of this game and manager of the studio behind it is Charlie Guillemot. If that name sounds familiar, it's because his father is Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft's CEO. Charlie Guillemot graduated university in 2014 and became studio manager in… 2014

Charlie graduated from Uni and got a top job at daddies company with almost certainly zero experience on how to run a studio! How nice for him.

Source: Ubisoft


Joe Biden's presidential campaign puts politics into Animal Crossing: New Horizons

There's a certain (and very wrong) school of thinking that video games shouldn't be political, that they shouldn't have a stance on such matters, but what if it's the other way round? What if politics tries to be in video games? That's exactly what's happening with the Biden-Harris campaign creating a set of official campaign signs and logos for use in the cheery paradise of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

While we doubt that Joe kicks back and relaxes with some Animal Crossing, here he is in digital form alongside vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, showing off the four official sign designs that they've created. We'd bet this is more down to staffers seeing the popularity of AOC in her Animal Crossing sessions earlier in the global lockdown.

If you want to rep for the Democrats in the US presidential election, you can download these to the game using the Nintendo Switch Online app to scan a set of QR codes. Don't know how to do that? Well, we have a rather handy guide for that!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – How to import custom clothes & art with NookLink QR Codes

OK, got all that figured out? Well here's the four QR codes to get the official Biden-Harris logo, the Team Joe logo, a Joe Pride logo and an image of some red, white and blue aviators.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has raced past 20 million game sales in just a few months, the game chasing after the current best-selling Switch game, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Will it catch and pass Mario Kart by Christmas? It seems pretty likely! It might even do it before the US presidential elections on 3rd November.

Don't forget to register to vote if you're in the US, by the way, and keep abreast of your state's postal voting/absentee ballot, the possibility of voting early, and all the other stuff you need to be aware of in the current climate.

Source: Joe Biden


Animal Crossing Guides from TheSixthAxis


Sable, Call of the Sea, GONNER2, and Per Aspera have new trailers

With so many announcements at virtual events like Gamescom a lot of the smaller titles get lost so top marks to Raw Fury who sent me a handy email with all the trailers for their games in one place.

First up is Per Aspera, a city building game with a difference: It's set on Mars and you're terraforming the entire planet, not just making one city.

Per Aspera is a planetary simulation experience that combines hard science fiction and base building. Take on the role of AMI and Artificial Consciousness with the prime directive of terraforming Mars for human colonization. With the nearest help being 140 million miles away, what risks are you willing to take to achieve the mission?

The game is coming to Steam at the end of this year.

Next up, Gonner 2, in which you are helping Death by controlling altruistic and unexpected hero Ikk. The game is a procedurally generated platformer with roguelike elements and boss fights, and is coming to PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Nintendo Switch sometime before the end of the year.

The third game is the rather more gentle Call of the Sea, a a first-person adventure puzzle game set in the 1930s that tells the story of Norah, a woman on the trail of her missing husband's expedition. "It's an otherworldly tale of mystery, adventure, and self-discovery," say Raw Fury.

Finally, we have Sable which is launching on PC and Xbox One next year.

Sable is a coming-of-age tale of discovery through exploration across a strikingly rendered open world desert. Go on a deeply personal journey across an alien planet as the young Sable, exploring ancient monuments, ruined architecture, and ships fallen from the cosmos, all while learning the history of its inhabitants and discovering her place in the world.

What is the history behind these broken monuments scattered about the land? How did the nomadic clans come here, and what made them stay? What's the greater importance that Sable must come to understand as part of this rite of passage? Only the inquisitive mind will come to understand the lessons held within the sandy confines of the planet's secrets: lessons of life, family, and being a part of something greater than one's self.

Source: Press release


Struggling Review

Struggling begins with a man throwing up at an office party. I could not think of a more fitting metaphor for my time with this game. It's a disgusting mess, and only partly because it wants to be.

The awkward controls and fleshy meaty visuals are there purely by design, so I can't really fault it for that. It's pretty clear that Struggling was made for streamers to get wound up about while on camera, since it takes the physics of Heave Ho or Mount Your Friends, then makes a fiendishly difficult platformer out of it.

I'd talk about the plot, but it's just a way of putting high stakes in a game that really didn't need it – it's not referenced much during the course of the game itself. All you really need to know is that you are controlling Troy, an experiment gone wrong, screaming into and about its own existence as it swings across platforms and ceilings with its independently controlled arms.

One thing that's clear is that Struggling's art style riffs off the 'Gross Out' phenomenon of the late 80s/early 90s. Think Ren & Stimpy or Garbage Pail Kids. It's a look… that I actually like, despite all the vomit and gore. There's definitely some passion behind the hand-drawn visuals and it fits in with the game's over-the-top tone.

When I began Struggling, all I could do was flail the failed school science project's arms to move around uselessly. The way the arms work is relatively easy to grasp, though there are plenty of times where the game's physics got in the way of progress.

If you're playing on PC, the game recommends that you use a controller and I would as well, since it's easier to use the triggers to grab onto stuff and regrow with the controller rather than a keyboard and mouse setup. I would add that the option to colour code the arms is incredibly helpful as I often struggled to tell which arm was which with the default settings.

About an hour in and countless deaths later, I unlocked the ability to detach one or both arms. This, among other things, allowed me to create an extended arm by grabbing the soggy end of a detached arm with the hand of the one I still had attached. I liked the versatility of this new ability and the times that challenges were solely focused on how to use it effectively. I also like how hats are hidden throughout the adventure to encourage replaying the game once you eventually are done with it.

I liked little else.

It was a bad sign when I quit out of Struggling multiple times in the same section, just to calm down and have a cup of tea. Every time I had to take a break, it was due to some kind of speed-based challenge or some aggravation with the game's object physics.

It's also a bad sign that this first happened about 20 minutes into the game when I was being chased by a horde of mutated rats. All I had to do was clamber over some boxes, get across three swinging platforms, and push through a small chute. How hard could it be, right?

Turns out that it was ludicrously difficult and it's all down to the fact that moving with speed will more often than not tie the fleshy husk's arms into a sickly knot. Normally this isn't an issue as you can just press a button to regrow the arms, but in a tense situation where rats are slowly filling the room like plague-infested water filling an empty swimming pool, I found that the simple act of moving was just too difficult to do consistently.

My patience finally ran out during the third location: the wild west. There's a part where you must swing across branches to go upwards, avoiding cacti growing on the cliff side. The physics of how these tree branches bend was just a bit too chaotic, requiring manual dexterity that neither I, nor the meat sack I was controlling, was capable of executing. I managed to get up to the third branch just once, before my hopes and dreams of reaching the top came plummeting down with a sickening thump.

This is the main problem with Struggling: your enjoyment will depend on how much of a chance you're willing to give it.

To its credit, the one bit of gameplay that I did like were the pinball sections. Why? Because they actually felt fair. You control arms placed around the level and fling the core of the meaty lads. Sometimes this is time sensitive, other times it requires precision, but these are the rare moments that I found myself enjoying my time with the game.

Struggling was built with co-op in mind, with local co-op that can test your friendship on either Switch or PC, and support for Steam Remote Play for online on computer. Each player has independent use of an arm, adding a further challenge of needing to collaborate to get through each level, with all the wacky physics and interactions that go along with it. You might get a laugh out of it, but it will also quickly become a tedious chore.

At the end of the day, Struggling just isn't a game for me and I didn't have the patience to make it through to the bitter end. However, I don't think it was fully down to my lack of patience, the style of controls clashing too often with the types of challenge that you face. Chances are that others will have an absolutely miserable time too and as the saying goes, misery loves company. It'll attract people to watch videos of others screaming their heads off, but that's about it.


September's PlayStation Plus games are now available to download, links here

Here's you monthly reminder to go and grab you free(ish) games from Sony along with some handy links so you don't even have to turn on your PlayStation 4. This month your haul includes fighting game Street Fighter V and the iconic battle royale, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

Here are the links:

Though not quite the first of its kind, PUBG became the definitive battle royale game for many when it launched in Steam Early Access in March 2017. It was an absolute phenomenon, spawning countless imitators, and lead to the revival of Fortnite from a co-op wave-based survival game into something people actually gave a damn about. PUBG then made the jump to Xbox One at the end of 2017, before arriving on PlayStation 4 in December 2018.

The gist, for those that don't know, is that you and up to 99 other players drop into one of a range of maps with nothing but the clothes on your back. From there, you have to scrounge around for weapons, armour and other items, fighting for survival as a storm pushes players closer and closer together until one final person (or team of up to four) is crowned victorious.

The game is also notoriously wonky and has mediocre performance, regardless of the platform you run it on. We handed it a solid 8/10 in the original review on PC citing those bugs, while for its PS4 release, we called it "Rough, Ready, But Still Relevant."

On the other end of the scale is Street Fighter V, the latest entry in Capcom's long-running fighting game series in which you go one on one with another player or the AI. You've got a variety of single player modes to take part in, but the real test will be in online matches.

Street Fighter V is now into its fifth year of content, with Capcom switching to a seasonal approach to its development. Still, at the time of its release in 2016, we had high praise. In out Street Fighter V review, Dave said:

Even as a person whose grasp of fighting games is nowhere near top-tier standard, Street Fighter V is the most fun I've had in a fighting game in years. It's a bold choice by Capcom to make this an expanding platform rather than a simpler game release, and it means that while it's light on content, you have to appraise its stability, core combat and look to its true form in the future. Based on the strength of the gameplay and performance, Street Fighter V is a sublime fighting game and shows that this old dog still has some new tricks.

PUBG and Street Fighter V will be available until Monday 5th October.


Two more seasons of Zombie Army 4 DLC are on the way, starting later in 2020

Rebellion have announced that there's not one, but two more seasons of DLC content coming to their popular co-op zombie shooter Zombie Army 4: Dead War. Details of these were teased in a development update video:

Players have killed over 2 billion nazi zombies (and 50 million Hitler clones) since the game came out in February, but there's plenty more where that came from. Season 1, which was built around the three-part Hell Cult campaign, is being rounded out the Horde Map set in a Zoo and the Crossbow Pistol Bundle, both of which are a part of the season pass. Not the most exciting of things, but there's more substantial offerings coming in the two more seasons of DLC.

Season 2 will start later this year, being created in collaboration with Flix Entertainment, with Season 3 coming in 2021. Both will include new campaigns, new skins, new weapons, and new free content for those who don't fancy buying the DLC.

A rather moody looking glimpse of Season 2's opener was given in the development update video. We got to see a canyon seemingly leading up to a demonic dam, vast cliff-side defences and snowy villages. This could be pretty much anywhere in the world, but we'd put a little money on the Italian Alps at Christmas. What do you think>

We had a grand old time with our Zombie Army 4: Dead War review when it came out all the way back in February. With new player abilities and weapon mods, alongside more refined level design, I said:

"If you like shooting zombies with friends, then Zombie Army 4: Dead War is the game for you. There's a few new twists and several layers of progression now thrown into the mix, as you battle undead Nazis once again, but this is classic undead sniping action through and through."

Source: press release


Iron Harvest Review

Just like the mechs that populate its Dieselpunk alt-history battlegrounds, Iron Harvest is a creaky, imperfect contraption, but one that's clearly been bolted together with love and undeniable charm. Also, like its outlandish and inventive mechs, it's welded together with an eye for form over function. While the core of Iron Harvest is a dynamic and often exciting RTS that pays tribute to Company of Heroes and Dawn of War, mechanical intricacies can often seem like an afterthought alongside the glorious smoke and mirrors of its outer casing.

A standard skirmish or multiplayer match in Iron Harvest is always going to be a desperate, constant scrap over resources and victory points until one side gets the upper hand, giving them the edge they need to overwhelm their opponent. Each iron and oil refinery held means you can produce a steadier supply of reinforcements. It also means that staying put to defend a base and build up forces won't work here. The game rewards regular, well-timed raids over biding your time. Deathballing – amassing a huge blob of powerful units to sweep the map – is too slow to be viable. The result is dynamic, involved skirmishes with ever-shifting fronts.

Strategic variety is also encouraged by the variety of units that stay viable and useful even when more powerful choices become available. Plonk a unit of rocket infantry in cover with a bead on a mech's rear armour and they can wreak havoc. Sentry turrets can chew through infantry, but a well-microed grenade can quickly end the party. The speed at which units die is a little slower than a classic RTS, so there's often room during skirmishes to both reposition and micromanage special abilities. This, alongside the significant survivability that cover provides to infantry, means that planning a versatile force is often rewarded.

Base building itself consists of just three structures: a Headquarters, a Barracks for infantry, and a Workshop for mechs. Both the Barracks and Workshop can be upgraded, but there's no complex building chains or tech trees. Instead, most of the strategic elements in holding positions come from fortifications. The highly versatile engineer can place sandbags, pillboxes, barbed wire, and mines, as well as repair the mechs. With cover being as useful as it is, identifying and reinforcing chokepoints can be extremely powerful, providing yet more choices over when to focus on defence, and when to press the attack.

The slightly-arcadey immediacy present in the point capture also exists in the way infantry units can swap roles on the fly. If your unit of rifleman mops up a unit of machine-gunners, for example, they can then collect their weapons, transforming them into your faction's version of that unit. This is neat because it occasionally makes soldiers grow beards in an instant, but it also means more opportunities to respond to, rather than just predict, your opponent. On the other hand, it diminishes infantry variety between factions, since each of the three playable sides need to have roughly equivalent choices for this to work.

That's not to say there's no differences between these minor choices, and the three factions do have a fair amount to separate them. Polanian basic infantry have rifles, Rusviet shotguns, and Saxony SMG's, each offering different range and damage potential. Saxony's mechs are powerful, lumbering things, while Polania favours mid-range skirmishers, and Rusviet powerful melee options.

The mechs are the main event here, the equivalent to tanks in this alt-history, and they're incredibly impressive visually. Lumbering chimeras that have stepped out of furnace-heated workshops, sparked into existence at the point where low and high technology meet and scrape up against one another. In battle, they'll fall apart as they take damage, and eventually stagger and fall when felled, leaving smoking wrecks on the battlefield. Artillery from both mechs and gun emplacements leave muddy craters where they land, and larger mechs will walk straight through buildings, levelling them like card houses.

Practically, he mechs veer to the simplistic side, effectively acting how large vehicles would in any other RTS do. The presence on the battlefield that the audiovisual design works so hard to establish is undermined by the mech's inability to navigate difficult terrain. They can crush sandbags underfoot, sure, but they're also unable to scale even slight elevations. The inclusion of buildable fortifications works towards allowing spatial dominance of the battlefield as a viable and interesting tactical approach, but the mechs don't compliment this in an interesting way.

The single-player campaign consists of twenty-one missions – seven for each faction – and a ton of cutscenes between them. The focus on story and the length and production of many of the cutscenes feels extremely generous, and while the plot isn't always captivating, the enthusiasm with which it's told is. There are some genuinely excellent, dramatic, and surprising missions in there, but there are also a handful of staid, ill-suited stealth missions which feel at odds with the game's core strengths. At their best, these slower-paced hero missions can add some great history and texture to the gameworld, but at their worst, they feel like torturously slow-paced filler.

That gameworld itself is not entirely what I expected or hoped from concept artist Jakub Ró┼╝alski's work, either. There's wistful, tragic, pastoral romance to Ró┼╝alski's paintings, but Iron Harvest often feels much more like Saturday morning cartoon. Levity, big explosions, badass mechs doing badass things. If Ró┼╝alski's work evokes questions about the relationship between ourselves and technology, or the automatisation of work and war, Iron Harvest mostly asks "Aren't big mechs cool?"

That's not to say there aren't splashes of depth here. The first half of the Saxony campaign in particular is an exploration of tragic folly, of arrogance and ambition, and of the "meat grinder" of 20th century conflicts. This last idea is baked into the mechanics as well; the gruelling pace of combat often reminds you that the women and men under your command are not necessarily out to kill, but trying to keep their heads down to hopefully see another sunrise and win themselves a better future. In these moments, Iron Harvest absolutely does the poetry of Ró┼╝alski's work justice.


Sades Axe Gaming Mouse Review

Nothing identifies a gaming peripheral more than a violent name. The Sades Axe is one of the clearest examples of such conventions yet – well, I doubt it's a reference to the deodorant brand. I've never quite understood the need to try and make accessories sound like offensive weapons, but then I'm also pretty lukewarm on RGB lighting in my gaming kit, so maybe I'm just an old man yelling at clouds. The Axe is Chinese manufacturer Sades' latest entry into the highly competitive gaming mouse market and promises a premium set of functions at a budget price point. So, with Axe in hand, I set out to test its mettle and really get to grips with it.

Aesthetically, the Axe is a nice blend of rounded and sharp edges, eschewing the overly angular approach that many gaming mice take. It looks and feels like a midpoint between the rounded regular mouse you'd use for daily surfing and the spiky deathbringer you'd bring out in the evenings for gaming. The result feels great in the hand, particularly for those of us who favour the palm grip over the claw (that sounds dirty written down like that).

The shape is complemented by a smooth matte finish and textured buttons – useful for setting that muscle memory for quick reactions. One word of caution, however, as the button placement and moulded grip makes this a very right-handed mouse and I couldn't recommend it for you southpaws out there.

Under the bonnet (as it were) the specs of the Sades Axe are impressive – especially given the sub-£30 price point. The PMW3325 Optical Sensor offers a ridiculous 10,000DPI that's more than sensitive enough for gaming, with 20G maximum acceleration and a maximum speed of 100 in/s. If, like me, you tend to glaze over a little when these stats are recited I can confirm that the end result is a mouse that feels brilliantly responsive and accurate. A DPI switch is located below the scroll wheel so you can easily switch between window managing and head-shotting.

The build quality of the Axe is impressive too. It is a sturdy little beast with a strong nylon braided cord and a gold-plated USB plug. It weighs in at a fairly hefty 108g and also comes with an extra 10.5g adjustable weight insert. This is a nice feature, although I found it plenty heavy enough without adding any extra. Buttons are sturdy but feel nice and responsive, which is obviously one of the most important aspects of a gaming mouse. It is the buttons that really show how much you're getting for your money here.

Offering no fewer than 12 programmable buttons, the Axe is flexible enough to meet the needs of almost any gaming situation. I found the extra side buttons really useful in mapping functions such as reload or inventory that often require a risky slide away from WASD in FPSes, and even more essential in strategy and MMORPG games where things like spell slots or battle groups could be quickly accessed quickly with your thumb.

Unusually, even the DPI switches can be reprogrammed to offer a different specific function, and the onboard memory means that changes can be taken with you between computers. The accompanying software package is incredibly clean and user-friendly, staying away from some of the 'elite gamerz' excesses of some manufacturers. Multiple profiles make it easy to switch between FPS, RPG and work functions with a quick click in the software and the obligatory RGB lighting is configurable there too. This lighting is nicely minimalist too, aside from the glowing wolf logo which will spend most of its time covered up by your hand anyway.

My only negative experience with the Sades Axe was a small white sticker underneath that started to peel away and leave unsightly marks on my mousemat.  I'd recommend removing that upfront.


Faeria Review

Faeria gives a great first impression with the gorgeous art found in its opening cutscene, full of vivid colours depicting a fantastical world of creatures and swords – it's all I ever need to entice me into a game. That, however, is the last time I really notice the beauty of the artwork, the rest being featured within the unnecessarily small hexagonal cards of this strategy card game.

Faeria is designed to be a cross between CCG and traditional board game, in which you build various lands to reach and attack the enemy. In a turn based structure, you and your opponent can play two plains lands or one special land – green forests, fiery mountains, sandy deserts, and watery lakes. There's an element of strategy that's needed, as in any card game, but it feels much more important in Faeria than in games Like Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone. I thoroughly enjoyed planning routes to the enemy, and finding new ways to tackle the board.

Each card has a summon cost, and those that can attack or defend have attack and health, shown in the bottom left and right, respectively. This is nothing out of the ordinary, following the standard practice in CCG. You use Faeria to summon creatures to the board, with the unique summon cost being shown in the top left of the card. You collect three Faeria at the beginning of each turn, with the chance to collect more using Faeria wells on the battle maps. You can collect one additional Faeria per well per turn, so long as you have a creature adjacent to a well. In addition, some creatures require a set amount of special lands in order to be summoned, this again being a fairly common feature across the CCG subgenre.

While there is lore within the universe, there didn't seem to be much of a storyline, leaving you to fill in the gaps. The lore is built very slowly, between information on the cards, and speech bubbles showing interactions between the cards and the enemy "boss". There's also lore found after defeating specific challengers in single player, or completing various quests. It's very much a slow build of information, as opposed to presenting you with pages upon pages to read at once.

Going back to the lovely artwork of the game's opening, the rest of the game locks this into the diminutive cards that you play. Should you really want to have a closer look at the cards, then shuffling through them in the deck builder is probably the easiest way to do so. The zoom feature on the playing board didn't really work as it should've, only allowing you to see a flash of the cards rather than allowing you to actually study it.

The act of playing cards should be fairly simple, however the mechanism raised several issues for me whilst playing. In several instances, the cards simply refused to be selected or played, despite having the requirements for play. Furthermore, moving the cards across the board created difficulty for the same reasons; cards would simply refuse to be selected. This was nothing short of frustrating, leaving me to ragequit several times. Despite being an enjoyable concept and game to play, the faulty mechanics ruined the continuity and gameplay. Playing via the touchscreen of my Switch helped a little, but the same issues still occurred, albeit less frequently.

From the main screen, you have an option to access the deck builder. Whil you can use the presets as and when you find them throughout the story, this enables you to build your own from scratch. Building a deck with the cards was much easier than actually playing with them, and it was even more fun once I'd actually collected enough to make several themed decks.

Faeria requires an internet connection to play, even if you are playing single player. My 9-5 doesn't have the best WiFi connection, meaning I simply can't play on breaks. This isn't much of an issue really, but does massively limit when you can play, especially if you're like me, and like to game on transport or at work. The sheer amount of content will keep you going for a while, even if you go at a slow pace.


Crusader Kings III Review

Popular culture tends to depicts the life of nobility through the Middle Ages in one of a few ways. While the peasantry are going about their Monty Pythonesque filth farming, their lords, knights and kings will either be living in glorious excess, display the most conniving intent to grab more and more power, or be the most virtuous ruler out there. The Crusader Kings series has always let you choose which type of ruler you want to be.

Compared to other grand strategy series, Crusader Kings games aren't really about "painting the map", but are about leading a dynasty of nobles through the ages. All of your choices and actions are to further yourself and provide the best possible throne for your heirs to come and sit on once you have passed. Of course, you can still seek to paint the world red and conquer all those that stand in your way, but you're doing this while role playing as a particular ruler. They can be strong military leaders or sickly, bookish and shy, they can be pious to the extreme or philanderers in excess, they can be just and honest or try to stab everyone in the back to get ahead.

Alongside the countless narrative moments that will pop up and demand you make a decision, the role playing aspects of the series have really been pushed to the fore in Crusader Kings 3. Lifestyles have been revamped, giving a progression tree of buffs to unlock as you push your character toward a particular style of play, while your stature and grander actions build up points to unlock Dynasty Legacies, which start to provide powerful enhancements for all characters in your family tree, cementing a legacy of military success, conniving acts or… bounteous loins. Speaking of which, you'll be playing a game of medieval eugenics as you arrange marriages, carefully select a tutor or guardian with high stats, and even indulge in a little light prolicide, fratricide and parridice to ensure your dynasty's succession.

Ah yes. Murderous scheming. What could be more Crusader Kings? Well, maybe a few little affairs and blackmail? The new overarching Schemes system ties together the various bits of intrigue and skullduggery you could get up to in previous games, whether it's a murder plot on a rival, a bit of light seduction, or simply trying to sway a character's opinion of you. A good Spymaster in your council of advisors will help you ferret out the secrets of others – though you can always make something up with an intrigue-oriented character – to that you can gain blackmail hooks on them and persuade them to support your more devious endeavours. Of course, your own escapades and deviancies can be turned back around on you just as well.

Or you could always just wage wars and conquer your rivals. You'll need to have a Casus Belli before you can rally your troops and march to glory, but that's easy enough to conjure up with some forged paperwork. You won't have a huge standing army, but rather a mixture of men-at-arms and a mass of levied peasants gathered from your lands and those of your vassals. This will typically start to drain your coffers, putting a limit on how long you can wage war for before you run out of cash, and focussing your efforts on embarrassing your enemy or quickly grabbing the patch of land you wanted. The nature of your armies also makes the biggest threats to your rule come from within, with dissatisfied vassals potentially banding together and bringing their full might against you, with your own army diminished through not being able to draw upon their levies. It's the first years of an heir's rule potentially the most dangerous of them all.

Pushing you further to actually role play is the new Stress system that nudges you to make decisions in keeping with your current character. Pushing that character's buttons with your choices will increase their stress and can lead to mental breaks that then add negative character traits to cope, and eventually wildly lashing out. There's ways to reduce stress periodically through feasts and hunts, but it forces you to weigh up the cost of acting against your character's nature. Still, it can feel a bit like a straight jacket with certain characteristics. Shy characters can seriously struggle with managing Vassal opinions, as every attempt at a simple Sway scheme immediately adds a huge amount of Stress and they obviously hate hosting big, lavish feasts. A more nuanced time-based penalty here could have felt more appropriate, but it certainly ramps up the pressure effectively.

Scheming and character relations can feel quite straightforward and numbers-based (because they are), but that just the nature of this genre and provides clarity over who likes and dislikes you and why. Still it can initially come as a bit of a surprise to be so thoroughly disliked, forcing you to lean heavily on gifts and Sway scheme within your own realm. It allows you to toy with the system to an extent – I mothered a bastard child with the King of Sweden and then, our infidelity discovered, shipped our son over to the King's wife to be his guardian. I felt slightly bad for this.

The breadth of cultures and religions represented in CK3 is impressive – it needs to be in order to match huge world map the game ships with. Cultures come with different styles of government, succession rules, marriage, and there are several faiths under each religion's umbrella that have their own particular rites and rules for how you can embark on pilgrimages to holy site, doctrines surrounding marriage, crime, and so on. New faiths can rise up and you're given the opportunity to embrace them or declare those that do heretics, but if you're pious enough, you can create your own and (hopefully) lead your family and subordinates over to the new style of living.

These are also the path to the holy wars of the game's name. For your basic Catholic faiths, you'll start to be called up by the Pope to go and capture Jerusalem, and while you can just throw him a few coins to support the war effort, you can also raise and army and send it over to fight. Your reward will depend on your contribution to the war effort, but it's currently too easy to cheese this by simply laying siege to a few cities away from the main battles, earning a disproportionately high score and seeing the invaded realm (probably Jerusalem) handed over to your chosen benefactor if the war as a whole goes in your favour.

Helping players to learn the ropes of Crusader Kings 3 has certainly been a focus for Paradox, and there's some great tools included here to help you do just that. The in-game encyclopaedia is great, and it's allied with the never-ending tooltips that let you mouseover a concept in a dialogue box and get an explanatory pop-up, which will feature more words that you can mouseover, and deeper and deeper. Its default mode is maybe a touch intrusive, but that can be modified. An advice tab at the top of the screen helps you keep tabs on important things like wars you can start, people you can imprison, immediate threats to your realm. It's a shame that the initial tutorial feels like an info dump delivered through dozens of consecutive text boxes, but a little patience and the game's core is easy enough to learn and there are enough pointers provided to help you progress.


Lonely Mountains: Downhill DLC will add the new Eldfjall Island mountain

Thunderful and Megagon Industries have announced some new DLC for the biking game Lonely Mountains: Downhill, with this content taking players to the fictional volcanic Eldfjall Island. The DLC will add four brand new trails to master with new environmental effects also being added. There will be lightning and the active volcano is not just for show, so be aware of that. There will be new cosmetics to unlock too, and you will be able to compete on a global leaderboard. You can check out the first look in the new trailer below.

Jan Bubenik and Daniel Helbig, Megagon Industries, released a statement saying:
"We are very excited to introduce Eldfjall Island, a completely new, yet undiscovered Lonely Mountain. It is a unique world of its own – the largest and most versatile mountain we have ever built. We have put all our knowledge and experience into it since the initial release of the main game Lonely Mountains: Downhill. For the players Eldfjall Island brings a completely new gaming experience and an adventurous ride along its mossy fields, windy cliffs, and fiery magma streams." 
In our review for Lonely Mountains: Downhill Thomas wrote:
Lonely Mountains: Downhill is a new, minimalist kind of extreme sports experience. Whether you're popping on for a quick run or spending longer riding across numerous mountains, Lonely Mountains provides a challenging but ultimately relaxing experience.
You can read the full review here. A release date for the Eldfjall Island DLC is yet to be confirmed. The content will be available on

Steam, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
Source: Press Release

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