Product Release - Valve
Borderlands 2 is now available on SteamOS, and to celebrate, the game is 75% off*! In addition, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel has announced that it will be available on SteamOS when the game launches in October.

*Offer ends Oct 2nd at 10am PDT.



PC Gamer
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Ask PC Gamer is our weekly advice column. Have a burning question about the smoke coming out of your PC? Send your problems to letters@pcgamer.com.



I'm trying to find some games my retired dad might enjoy. He's not really a gamer... all he plays right now are games on his phone, and I guess he could play casual games on PC, but I wanted to show him there's more than simple puzzle stuff (he likes Threes) without overwhelming him. He has a pretty decent desktop I got him a couple years ago. Any recommendations? J.M.



Dear J.M.,



"Casual" has taken on a new meaning for me in the past few years. I used to think of Facebook games and the incessant notifications spawned from friends who think we might somehow connect over a mutual love of vegetables despite not talking for 10 years. Today, I think of any game that can be played in short sessions and doesn't demand a lot of familiarity with the genre or precision control.



That's a lot of great games, and 'casual' probably isn't the right word. Civilization V qualifies, for instance. You don't need to have played other turn based strategy games to get the concept it's like a board game, and the tooltips explain the rules and it's turn based, so there's no athletic mousery involved. And though it's hard to do, it can be played in short sessions. He can save and quit whenever.



Then again, I don't know your dad, and Civ might bore him to death. I'm just guessing (and only because this is true of my dad) that he isn't going to jump between a bunch of games. He'll probably want to get familiar with one or two and play them a lot, a la Threes. Turn-based strategy is a good call if that's the case. Total War: Shogun 2 and Unity of Command also come to mind, though the jump from Threes to the latter could be a bit much.



You may also consider going to GOG and finding some classics: Theme Hospital, SimCity 2000, Police Quest. Regarding that last one, if you think he might like story and adventure games, Zork: The Grand Inquisitor is one of my personal favorites. And there's always Telltale.



In the puzzle department, I can also recommend SpaceChem and World of Goo. And if none of that appeals, you can always install Peggle and move on. There's nothing wrong with Peggle. (Though I'm sure the commenters can supply some good answers and anecdotes of their own.)
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

A whole new world. A new fantastic point of view.

…I’m so sorry.

However, I am pleased to report that sci-fi strategy game Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth is not simply Civ V with green face paint on. It has the same hexes and it does have much of the same infrastructure as its historical-themed predecessor, but its transformation into something alien goes far more than miasma-coated skindeep. The essential framework of Civ remains, but the final frontier – for the 200 turns with beta code I’ve spent there – requires a very different sort of thinking.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Borderlands patch adds Steamworks support, reinstates multiplayer after Gamespy’s shutdown">Borderlands







The Great Steamworks Migration continues. This time, it's Borderlands. The shoot-'n-loot FPS's co-op multiplayer has been unavailable since Gamespy's demise. Now it's back, thanks to the introduction of the Steamworks multiplayer infrastructure.



For owners of the physical-disc edition, you can activate a Steam copy using the "Granting Tool", found in Steam's Tools menu. You can see full instructions here.



Previously, a Borderlands patch removed SecuROM DRM from the game and its DLC.



There's been a recent trend of games switching to Steamworks, thanks both to Gamespy's death and Games for Windows Live's presumed shut-down. Recently Dawn of War 2 escaped from GfWL's clutches, securing its future for hopefully years to come. Of course, if Steam ever closes, we're all screwed.



Gearbox are currently working on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. For more on that game, check out Tom's recent hands-on report.
Community Announcements - cpickett
Hello Vault Hunters!
Borderlands has been updated with Steamworks multiplayer!
If you have a physical DVD of the game, don’t forget you can get the Steamworks version by running the “Granting Tool” in the “Tools” section of Steam.

For more information on this process, or for help getting your copy of Borderlands onto Steam: refer to - http://support.2k.com/hc/en-us/articles/202552173--PC-Borderlands-GameSpy-Shutdown-and-Conversion-Tool
PC Gamer
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If for some reason you're interested in Borderlands 2 but have yet to play it, then here's good news: the game is free on Steam this weekend. Even better, if you enjoy the game there's a hefty 75 per cent discount on both Borderlands 2 and its Game of the Year edition during that period. Naturally, you'd be better off going for the latter as the DLC packs include a wealth of extra content.



The free weekend is timed perfectly to get indecisive punters aboard the Borderlands train ahead of the October release of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Indeed, the game is now available for pre-purchase on Steam. You can play as Claptrap, which is great, because it means you can send the annoying robot to his death.



We had a hands-on session with the pre-sequel recently, describing it as "familiar, but fun". It releases October 14.
Announcement - Valve
Enjoy deals on the entire 2K Games catalog during the 2K Publisher Weekend! Save 50% and up on Civilization V, Borderlands 2, Bioshock Infinite, XCOM: Enemy Unknown along with many other titles.

The 2K Publisher Weekend begins at 10am PDT on Aug 20th and ends at 10am PDT on Aug 25th.







Product Release - Valve
Play Borderlands 2 for FREE starting now through Sunday at 1PM Pacific Time. You can also pickup Borderlands 2 at 75% off the regular price!*

If you already have Steam installed, click here to install or play Borderlands 2. If you don't have Steam, you can download it here.

*Offer ends Monday at 10AM Pacific Time

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to XCOM: The Board Game hands-on: aliens, apps, and anxiety">XCOM-soldiers-3







Written by Julian Murdoch



Most board/videogame crossovers are terrible, so it was with a healthy amount of skepticism that I sat down at GenCon 2014 in Indianapolis this weekend to play XCOM: The Board Game, a coop strategy game due later this year from Fantasy Flight Games.



Fantasy Flight has a small pocket industry making these crossover attempts: several runs at the World of Warcraft license, A Gears of War game, even a game based on the world of Doom. Most of the time, the theme of the videogame seems like a weird bolt-on to the cardboard version, both watering down what might be good gameplay mechanics and failing to create a meaningful connection to original game. XCOM: The Board Game avoids both of these traps, both delivering a new, fun coop experience and conjuring up the XCOM world in interesting ways.



It s worth noting that when XCOM: Enemy Unknown hit the PC in 2012, many reviews pointed out that core tactical gameplay was actually prototyped as a boardgame before being brought digital. XCOM: The Boardgame has nothing to do with that tactical miniatures (video)game we all lost countless hours too.







That s good news. Eric Lang, the designer of the upcoming digital/boardgame hybrid, put it this way: Why would we try to replicate that exact experience, he said, sitting across the plastic counters and cardboard chits that define the boardgame experience. It already exists. We all played it. So we pulled the camera way back and put you in charge.



The core conceit of XCOM: The Board Game is precisely that. In the video game version, most of the gameplay happens at the ground level, occasionally pulling out for a brief geoscape perspective. In the board game, you sit above the geoscape level, the big-boss of all. Each player assumes one or more key roles: Commander, Squad Leader, Chief Scientist, and Central Officer. Each role has its own tasks to accomplish, working together to defeat an incoming alien invasion: assigning ground troops, interceptors, and satellites to defend planet earth, researching technologies, salvaging wreckage, and completing critical missions to repel the invading sectoids, floaters, and the rest of the XCOM menagerie.



As a cooperative boardgame, it shares much in common from games like Z-Man Games Pandemic, which assigns each player at the table a critical role in achieving a common objective against the game itself.



The Commander sends interceptors to shoot down incoming UFOs and manages the budget, allocating cash to all of the other players. Everything in the game costs money, and money is always scarce. The commander will never be able to give everyone all the money they need.

The Chief Scientist researches new technologies that act as buffs for other members of the team using card game mechanics. Each other player has buffs that can provide enormous benefits, but she only has so many scientists to deploy, and more scientists cost more money.

The Squad Leader assigns specialist troops (assault, sniper, special ops) to both defend XCOM home base and achieve the missions required to actually win the game. But troops get killed in combat, and recruiting new ones or leveling them up costs money too.

The Central Officer manages satellites and communications infrastructure. But the enemy is always targeting satellites, and new ones are expensive.







Each turn, each member has critical tasks to accomplish, and as a team, there are limited resources available to tackle the ever-changing crises which spread panic to the continents of the world. Too much panic, and the game is lost. Successful resource allocation requires real team communication and collective decision making.



But it s the Central Officer that sets the game apart. Instead of a traditional fixed turn order (I go, you go, the game goes), the Central Officer uses an app (iOS, or browser-based) to tell each team member what to do, when, and to relay the new information that comes in from the computer controlled AI. She also manages the satellite network to make sure that the best possible information is coming into the team. And it all happens on a timer.



Here s how it worked in practice, in my demo game:



Commander, assign your interceptors. You have 15 seconds.



Africa s about to fall into panic. Europe s no better. I have six inbound UFOs, and six interceptors, but I m short on cash. If I move to defend, I ll have nothing to give my ground troops, who are repelling a base-invasion at XCOM HQ. And the Science Officer won t shut up about wanting to get more salvage.



Five seconds! screams my Central Officer.



I let Africa fall, assigning three interceptors to Europe.



Done! I cry. He presses a button on the iPad next to me. Squad Leader, Defend the Base! You have 13 seconds.







Time itself is the most critical resource. If the Commander (me, in our demo) takes too long, there are consequences. If anything goes wrong like losing satellites or letting a continent fall into chaos there are consequences. Sometimes the consequences are traditional boardgame consequences fail a few dice rolls when trying to defend XCOM base, and your soldiers die. Fail to research a new technology often enough and your scientists have to take a turn off and think about what they ve done.



But because the AI for the game is in the App, both time and information are part of those consequences too. After our failure in Africa, the next round had us assigning resources before we even knew where the UFOs were going to land. After running over time last turn, the Squad Leader, forced to decide between three missions to pursue, only gets 10 seconds to read the mission cards and decide, instead of 25 seconds.



And just like that, the game goes from strategic allocation and resource management to real time panic. The irony here is that this is unique in the XCOM universe. XCOM, after all, is a turn-based strategy game. A safe haven for people who don t like the stress of managing a build order in StarCraft 2 or getting a skillshot just right in League of Legends.







This is the genius of XCOM: The Board Game. It uses an app to change the very structure of the game (Do well, and you ll get critical information before you have to act. Do poorly, and you re flying blind), and it adds an element of real-time panic to what would otherwise be a fairly staid resource and strategy design.



This, it turns out, was the entire point: to stress you the heck out while you re trying to save the world. Making decisions with limited information and limited time is what brings out stress, explains Lang. Real time is the best way to do that. But using a sand-timer just doesn t cut it. An App feels really impersonal, it actually feels actually sinister. When the app pings you, that sound effect starts stressing you out.



By turn three of our demo, I d failed to allocate resources effectively with time being our most critical resource of all. And the earth was lost.







XCOM: The Board Game works as a boardgame for two reasons. The first, obviously, is it s connection to a beloved strategy videogaming franchise. The second is it s integration of a digital component. It will be easy for crufty grognards to immediately dismiss that as a gimmick designed to appeal to people who aren t real boardgamers a comment I heard more than once on the floor of GenCon.



But XCOM: The Board Game is doing something that happens all too rarely in board games it s actually innovating. I only got to play once the line for demos ran around the Fantasy Flight Games booth all weekend long but I will for sure be playing many, many times again, when it s out later this year for $60.
Announcement - Valve
Save 80% on The Darkness II as part of this week's Weekend Deal*!

Inspired by the popular comic book series produced by Top Cow Productions, Inc., The Darkness II is an intense first person shooter that delivers a twisted and gripping narrative of tragedy, modern crime drama, and supernatural horror.
Players will be taken down the brutal and personal path of Jackie Estacado, head of a New York crime family and wielder of an ancient and ruthless force of chaos and destruction known as The Darkness.

It’s been two years since Jackie Estacado used The Darkness to kill the men responsible for his girlfriend’s murder. He’s been unable to shake the memory of Jenny’s death since bottling up his supernatural power and now The Darkness wants out. A sudden, unprovoked attack by a mysterious organization known as the Brotherhood heralds the start of a full-scale war and opens the door for The Darkness to reemerge, setting Jackie on a journey to hell and worse.

*Offer ends Monday at 10AM Pacific Time
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