PC Gamer
PC Gamer

John Wick is a movie starring Keanu Reeves about a retired super-assassin who goes on a rampage when a Russian mobster kills the dog that was the last gift given to him by his dying wife. I am totally not making that up, and to prove it I present to you the John Wick DLC for Payday 2.

The John Wick DLC includes a new playable character by the name of John Wick—not much surprise there—a new Hitman perk deck featuring the Akimbo ability, the Chimano Compact pistol with a dozen mods, the URSA Tanto knife, and three new pairs of sunglasses, one of which is only usable by Mr. Wick himself. Sadly, an adorable, dangerously-low-HP puppy dog AI sidekick is not part of the package.

I'm not generally a fan of cross-media promotions, but this one gets a pass for two reasons. One, I freakin' love this John Wick trailer (and I have every intention of being in line on launch day), and two, as part of the Payday 2 Crimefest promotion, it's free, so regardless of your interest in the movie, it's not like you've got much to lose. And if, on the other hand, you can't wait for John Wick but have no idea about Payday 2, purchasing tickets to the film through Fandango will net you a free download of the game.

The one bit of bad news is that the DLC can apparently cause crashes to modded games. Workarounds have been posted in the Payday 2 Steam forum, but if you run into grief you may have to uninstall the mods until they've been updated.

The John Wick DLC is live now on Steam, while John Wick the film, for those who've developed an interest in seeing puppy-killers get some hot lead comeuppance, opens in theaters on October 24.

PC Gamer

If you're one of the people who threw nearly two million bucks at the Kickstarter for Richard Garriott's very Ultima-esque MMO Shroud of the Avatar last year, you've likely already been playing it, in a pre-release state, for quite some time. But soon everyone will be able to join in, as developer Portalarium revealed yesterday that the Steam Early Access launch is just a month away.

As the title suggests, Shroud of the Avatar is very much a spiritual successor to Garriott's famous and long-running Ultima RPG series. The Kickstarter, in fact, says the goal is to "tell a story even more compelling than Ultimas IV-VII, create a virtual world more interactive than Ultima VII, [and] develop deep rich multi-player capabilities beyond combat akin to Ultima Online."

How close the game currently comes to that lofty goal will soon be revealed to all, or at least to those willing to spring for it on Steam. "We are moving full steam ahead (oh yes, I went there) towards our Steam Early Access launch on November 24," Executive Producer Starr Long revealed in the latest Kickstarter update. "We were nervous at first about moving to Steam, but are feeling great now based on the overwhelmingly positive and speedy results of our Steam Greenlight campaign, and the incredible support Steam has been giving us."

Playing the game through Steam is optional but Portalarium is asking that backers do so in order to help with testing and preparation for the Early Access launch. Details on how to do so, along with a breakdown of what's changed and been added to the latest release of the game, are up at shroudoftheavatar.com.

PC Gamer

A new generation of Intel Extreme processors with a new socket (LGA 2011-3) means a new batch of motherboards to go along with them, and Gigabyte has a whopping eight X99 boards aimed at the PC gaming elite. To test out Intel s $1050 Core i7 5960X, Gigabyte sent me the GA-X99-Gaming 5, which sits in the middle of that eight motherboard pack. At $295, it s a bit cheaper than a couple other variants, like the wi-fi equipped Gaming G1 Wi-Fi and the overclocking oriented SOC Force. Despite not being Gigabyte s premiere overclocking board, I was able to clock the i7 5960X at a stable 4.1GHz on the Gaming 5, and it was an effortless process thanks to Gigabyte s great UEFI BIOS.

After I hit 4.1GHz so easily, I had to push it even further—but more on that later.

The Gaming 5 is the first X99 board I ve tested, and it s interesting to see what $295 gets you for an Extreme processor motherboard. The average Z97 board costs $100 - $200, and most of the additional features on the X99 Gaming 5 come from the X99 chipset. Compared to Gigabyte s $145 Z97X Gaming 5 motherboard, the X99 board has these big advantages:

  • Support for DDR4 rather than DDR3 RAM.
  • Two x16 PCI Express slots at x16 and two PCI Express slots at x8, compared to one PCI Express slot at x16, one at x8 and one at x4. The extra slots are made possible by more PCIe lanes on the Extreme CPUs.
  • Four additional SATA 6 Gb/s ports from the chipset.
  • Two additional USB 3.0 ports from the chipset.

Otherwise, the two motherboards are extremely similar. The most important feature with X99 is the extra PCIe slot and the added bandwidth available to PCIe devices, which enables quad-SLI or Crossfire if you have a suitable number of graphics cards on hand. But Gigabyte s added some smart touches here and there that make the X99 motherboard pleasant to use, both in terms of hardware and software. Let s dive in.

Hardware overview

To test the Gigabyte-X99-Gaming 5, I built a system with the following components:

  • Corsair 750D full tower case
  • Gigabyte-X99-Gaming 5 motherboard
  • Intel 5970X processor
  • Enermax Liqtech 240 closed-loop liquid CPU cooler
  • 32GB Crucial DDR4-2133 RAM
  • Adata 256GB m.2 SSD
  • Enermax 1500 watt power supply
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 reference graphics card

First, the important features: the board s four PCIe slots can support up to four graphics cards, while many other motherboards only support up to three-way SLI. Four-way only works with a CPU that has enough PCIe lanes to communicate with that many devices. The 5960X and 5930K both have 40 PCIe lanes, enough to support four graphics cards. The 5920K processor, however, has only 28 lanes, which means it can only support three-way SLI or CrossFire.

The X99 Gaming 5 also has a dual M.2 slot for an SSD and a Wi-Fi card. The M.2 socket isn't the fastest around—it tops out at 10 gigabits per second, whereas both ASUS and Asrock make X99 motherboards that use a PCIe x4 lane to achieve up to 32 gigabit per second data speeds. The latter method shares bandwidth with one of the PCIe sockets, which is a deal-breaker if you plan on running four-way SLI; the boards can serve the M.2 socket or the PCIe lane, but not both. Gigabyte's implementation, while definitely slower, doesn't have that limitation.

10 gigabits per second works out to 1250 megabytes. Because the Adata M.2 SSD I m using has max speeds of about 770 MB/s, I didn t have any bottleneck issues. But there are SSDs out there right now butting up against that speed limit, which could make Gigabyte's M.2. implementation a limiting factor in a year or two.

Gigabyte s motherboard has a few interesting extra features: a header for an add-in Thunderbolt card, an upgradable OP-AMP that audiophiles may choose to change out instead of installing a separate sound card, and ambient LED lighting around the board and I/O ports. I was surprised to find that the LED lighting was my favorite bit. On the board itself there s a bit of red LED trim that lights up, but that has no functional purpose. The purple LED glow around the I/O ports, on the other hand, makes it much easier to read the labels around the ports, even in a well-lit office. Stuffed under a desk in a dark room, the light would be wonderfully useful.

It s the thoughtful kind of user experience refinement computer cases have been getting for years, like sliding HDD trays, that make building or using a PC a more pleasant experience. I wish Gigabyte had given the Gaming 5 the same kind of care on the body of the board itself—it s noticeably lacking an on-board POST code display, power button, or reset button, which are nice features to have on a high-end motherboard. I don t think that s unreasonable to expect from a $300 board, but you ll have to upgrade to the $350 SOC Force X99 board to get those from Gigabyte.

On the next page: UEFI, overclocking, and wrapping up.

Software and UEFI

Like most motherboard makers, Gigabyte has its own desktop software suite offering user-friendly GUI interfaces for overclocking and BIOS upgrading. Before doing a manual overclock, I tried out Gigabyte s auto tune feature on the desktop. In addition to a few static clock speed options, the autotune option is meant to test your processor at various speeds until it lands on a fast, stable overclock.

Unfortunately, I couldn t get it to work. After trying twice and letting the autotune sit on a stability testing screen for about 20 minutes, I stopped the process and found it reverted to the CPU s 3GHz base clock.

Thankfully, Gigabyte s UEFI is easy to use and absolutely packed with information. The default UEFI screen shows some simple options like boot priority, enabling fast boot—the basics you need if you re not going to be doing any major tweaking. Navigate over one screen to the left and you re greeted with a well-organized selection of tabs for tweaking CPU speed, voltage, memory—everything you d expect for overclocking or fine-tuning your system.

I especially like that Gigabyte surrounds the edges of the screen with live-updating data about the system, like CPU temperature and fan speeds. The nicest touch is the bit of descriptive text that appears for every setting. If you don t have any experience overclocking, you shouldn t go around changing settings at random, but Gigabyte s UEFI can help you learn what does what and prevent you from changing the wrong settings.

Performance and overclocking

As I mentioned above, I started with a nice, stable 4.1GHz overclock of the 5960X the Gaming 5. At the same time, I also overclocked Crucial s 2133 MHz DDR4 RAM up to 2400 MHz, which booted up just fine after a restart. Neither RAM nor CPU showed any signs of instability when I ran the demanding Prime95 stress test.

After those stable settings, it was time to push things a bit further. Without manually adjusting voltage or timing, I couldn t boot the computer with RAM overclocked past 2400 MHz.

On the CPU side, I was able to push beyond 4.1GHz no problem. At a (fairly conservative) 1.225 volts, I got the CPU up to 4.4GHz, which booted fine, but couldn t hold up to punishing stress tests. The system never crashed or rebooted, but I did encounter errors after several minutes in the Prime95 and OCCT stress tests. Intel recommends against using these tests for creating such a strenuous (and unrealistic) workload, so it may hold up fine under prolonged normal use, or with a bit more voltage.

Another note: Enermax s Liqtech 240 cooler performed excellently throughout my benchmark testing. Even at 2.25 volts and 4.4GHz, the CPU stayed in the low 70C range while running Prime95, with the liquid cooler s fans set on their medium speed setting.

4.4GHz represents a 46% overclock, which makes for an incredibly fast Haswell-E chip. Given how well the Gaming 5 handles overclocking, you d have to be chasing huge clockspeeds to need to upgrade to their $350 SOC Force board, or really want those power/reset/overclocking buttons and POST LED.

Wrapping up

If you re after a motherboard for a Haswell-E processor that can do four-way SLI, the Gigabyte X99 Gaming 5 is a great choice. It s a bit cheaper than Gigabyte s top-end boards, and doesn t give up much—one Ethernet port instead of two, and a few other bells and whistles are all that s really missing. The LED illuminated I/O port is a great bonus that I expect to see standard in a few years time.

The M.2 SSD speed being capped at 10 Gb/s, as opposed to the 32 GB/s some other motherboards support through x4 PCIe, is the biggest drawback. It s a necessary trade-off to be able to support four-way SLI, but if you never plan to shove four graphics cards into your case at once, consider a step-down model from Gigabyte or an Asrock motherboard for an X99 build. Alternatively, Gigabyte s $350 SOC Force X99 board uses PCIe lanes to bump M.2 speeds up to 20 GB/s. You can pick one up for less than $250.

PC Gamer

Bohemia Interactive's "Make Arma Not War" modding contest is closing to entrants in just a few days, and that means it's time to play some Arma 3—for free! (And if you find yourself digging it, you can also buy the game for half-price.)

The looming end of the contest (winners will be announced next year) doesn't necessarily mean that it's time for free Arma, I suppose, but that's what the studio said on Facebook—"In support of the Make Arma Not War contest, you can temporarily play Arma 3 for free"—and so that's what I'm going with. The upcoming launch of the Helicopters DLC may have something to do with it too. Regardless of how you justify it, what matters is that Arma 3 is now playable for free on Steam and will remain so until, according to my time-zone-adjustment calculations, 10 am PDT on October 26.

Arma 3, for those not in the know, is a military FPS, but unlike, say, the Call of Duty series, its focus is on authenticity. It's also extremely moddable, as reflected by the nature of the Make Arma Not War contest, which is offering $680,000 in total prizes—including $250,000 for the winner of the "Total Modification" category—and provided nearly a full year to get the job done: The contest began on December 5, 2013, and will close on October 28 of this year.

If you haven't been working on your entry since at least early summer, in other words, there's no point in worrying about it now. But hey, at least you can play some free Arma. Hook yourself up at Steam.

PC Gamer





So-called "action" combat is the norm in the latest crop of MMORPGs, but just two years ago it was largely TERA that showed us how well it could work for the genre. En Masse Entertainment hopes to recover some of that magic in its upcoming TERA: Fate of Arun expansion, which bumps the level cap up to 65 and whisks the game's often scantily clad denizens off to the continent of Northern Arun to fight a "soul-sucking bloodmage army."

Speaking to PC Gamer exclusively, En Masse tells us we'll get to see Highwatch, the home city of the Barakan race. I'm excited about the new location; I've always had a soft spot from the rocky folk. Players will also spend their time freeing the native Khirians and (if the teaser images En Masse provided serve as any indication) fighting some Galactus-sized tough guy who wears a crown resembling the logo from Magic 2013.

TERA's been one of the better looking MMOs since it released, and the two screenshots we received show that TERA's Korean developer Bluehole Studio plans to maintain this legacy. Highwatch itself stars in one, nestled next to towering mountains and looking all the world like it'd be right at home in the place of a Dwemer ruin in Skyrim. The other showcases a Guwangi village in Savage Reach— a lush tropical zone seemingly crammed with the kind of dense vegetation MMO developers tend to avoid.

But Fate of Arun isn't just about good looks and a new story with associated quests; En Masse also tells us that we'll see new zones, skills, dungeons, gear, and a new PvP battleground. Notably absent from this account is any mention of new classes or playable races, although I'll maintain hope that En Masse includes these in its promise of "vast systematic improvements to the gameplay experience." Considering that the new Reaper class already appeared earlier this year, that seems unlikely.

"It s been an incredible two years since TERA first launched in North America, said En Masse Entertainment Producer Patrick "Treeshark" Sun in the accompanying press release. "Fate of Arun will be, without a doubt, the biggest addition to the world of TERA new and returning players have ever seen—and we re excited to reveal more details in the upcoming weeks."

TERA went free-to-play in February of last year following nine months in the North American market, after which it rebranded itself as TERA: Rising. It boasts one of the more agreeable MMO free-to-play models around, as you can hack and slash your way through most of its signature BAMs (big ass monsters) without spending a penny. No release date has been set for the expansion, which is TERA's first since its launch in 2012.

PC Gamer

3D Realms, as you are no doubt aware, is actually legally known as Apogee Software, Ltd., distinct from Apogee Software, LLC, which was spun off from 3D Realms in 2008 and holds the license to the Apogee name, logo, and library. Got it? Me neither, but that's not important: The point is that 3D Realms is back, with a 32-game anthology bundle that includes some real retro goodness.

3D Realms had a good run through the 90s, but the following decade was rough. Its greatest success, Duke Nukem, became its downfall: Unable to finish the infamous Duke Nukem Forever, it closed its doors in 2009. Earlier this year, however, the company showed signs of new life thanks to its acquisition by Interceptor Entertainment, most recently known for remaking Rise of the Triad and being sued by Gearbox.

We said at the time that we were looking forward to learning what 3D Realms would get up to, and now we know: It's getting up to what 3D Realms got up to all those many years ago. That would be, specifically, the 3D Realms Anthology, a collection of (almost) the entire 3D Realms oeuvre, along with a "re-rockestrated" soundtrack. The anthology includes:

  • Arctic Adventure
  • Bio Menace
  • Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold
  • Commander Keen: Goodbye Galaxy
  • Commander Keen: Invasion of the Vorticons
  • Math Rescue
  • Monster Bash
  • Mystic Towers
  • Paganitzu
  • Monuments of Mars
  • Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure
  • Crystal Caves
  • Death Rally
  • Alien Carnage
  • Hocus Pocus
  • Major Stryker
  • Blake Stone: Planet Strike
  • Realms of Chaos
  • Pharaoh's Tomb
  • Word Rescue
  • Secret Agent
  • Raptor: Call of the Shadows
  • Terminal Velocity
  • Wacky Wheels
  • Stargunner
  • Shadow Warrior
  • Wolfenstein 3D
  • Rise of the Triad: Dark War
  • Duke Nukem
  • Duke Nukem 2
  • Duke Nukem 3D
  • Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project

There's some stuff in there that probably isn't going to turn too many cranks, but there are a lot of winners, too. Max Payne and Prey are unfortunate (and unexplained) absences, although they may simply be a little too new (or perhaps a little too owned by Rockstar) to belong in a bundle like this.

Whatever the case, the games run via a custom-built launcher designed for Windows, so compatibility presumably won't be an issue, and the whole thing goes for $20. Interested? Get the details at 3DRealms.com.

PC Gamer

Article by Kevin Lee

AMD has announced price cuts on many of its A-Series desktop processors. If you were planning on building an AMD system this holiday you can expect to save between $20 to $40 on an AMD APU including the 3.7GHz quad-core A10-7850K, which originally retailed for $179 has now dropped to $143.

The price cuts extends to multiple APUs on AMD s current Kaveri line as well as its Richland and Trinity family APUs. Going slightly older school will save you a few more bucks with the 4.1GHz quad-core A10-6800K now going for $112 from its $139 list price. Alternatively, you can get the barest of essentials for computing with AMD s $27 3GHz dual-core A4-4000 APU, which was originally listed for $49.

Although they come bargain you should not expect breathtaking performance out of these discount parts. Out this pack of discounted parts the AMD A10-7850K is the best APU you can get and it s CPU speeds comparable with an Intel Core i3 processor. The good news is AMD s integrated Radeons graphics are significantly better than Intel integrated HD graphics solutions; you can even run games on moderate settings with just the built in Kaveri R7 dual graphics.

Kaveri APUs
Price
A10-7850K
$143
A10-7800
$133
A10-7700K
$123
A8-7600
$92
A6-7400K
$58

Aside from the price drops on APU units, AMD has also announced new bundles for its A10 APUs (including the 7850K, 7800, 7700K, 6800K, and 6790K). Purchasing one of these dystem-on-a-chips will net you a copy of Murdered: Soul Suspect, Thief, or Sniper Elite 3 through the code that comes in the box. Alternatively, users can also redeem to code as a discount to purchase Corel Aftershot Pro 2 for $5.

As of this writing, the new prices aren t reflected on Newegg or Amazon, but expect to see them drop soon. Between this and the
recent price drop on the R9 290X, it s looking very easy to build an affordable AMD system.

Richland/Trinity APUs
Price
A10-6800K
$112
A8-6600K
$92
A4-6300
$34
A4-5300
$31
A4-4000
$27
PC Gamer

Three Lane Highway is Chris' weekly column about Dota 2.

I'm going to a Dota 2-themed Halloween party this weekend. Yes, that's a little early—and yes, that is the dorkiest thing you've ever heard. Whatever. I'm too busy trying to figure out a Dark Seer costume that isn't going to make me look like Papa Smurf to care. This week I'm going to list some costume ideas that you might want to try out at your own Halloween parties—or, indeed, any other party you attend over the course of the year.

There's more to a good costume than simply what you wear. A good costume comes with an attitude, a persona, a performance. A good costume convinces everybody else in the room that you are the new and exciting image you present. These costumes are geared to immerse you in each hero's distinctive personality and fascinating lore. These are identities for you to adopt, armour to gird you as you march down the midlane of any given social engagement. Enjoy.

Also, maybe don't do any of this.

Dazzle

You will need: Facepaint; a dream-catcher on a stick; a shitload of feathers; a pink hoola-hoop.

You might not be the host, but you're here to help. It's your job to ensure that the party runs smoothly and that everybody has a good time, and that starts by topping up drinks and looking after anybody who doesn't seem to fit in. Use your own deft touch to hem awkward partygoers into the event's social weave: weaken discomfort with a smile, and when the lights go down watch the edges of the dance floor for anybody who looks excluded.

In particular, you are looking for anyone on the verge of regretting that fifth/sixth/seventh cocktail. When you see somebody teetering on the edge of shame, immediately toss your pink hoola-hoop over them and make them dance. The activity will make them more alert and temporarily hold off the inevitable tears, fists or vomit. When the hoola-hoop reaches the ground, however, there's very little you can do for them—and gyrating like a lunatic may very well have made it worse. But you tried, and are therefore blameless.

Terrorblade

You will need: An attitude; a big swishy silvery cape; big pointy silver horns.

You are the single most fabulous and important person in this room. The sole function of this occasion—indeed, of any social event—is to furnish you with a good time. Ensure that you are the biggest and loudest voice, and spend every quiet moment hoovering up all of the snacks and freebies to be had. Consume so comprehensively that your host does not believe that a single party-goer could possibly be responsible. They don't understand. You require all of the munchies, because you are very important.

There will be times when you find yourself running low on drink at a crucial moment. You might be telling an excellent story about how great you are, or single-handedly diffusing a situation while everybody else looks on, impressed. Should you run dry at this point it is perfectly acceptable to swap your near-empty glass for the full glass of a nearby friend. That is, after all, what they are there for.

Phantom Assassin

You will need: eye makeup, a dark hoodie.

Too shy to go full Terrorblade? No problem. As Phantom Assassin, nobody will care that you're there and nobody will remember you when you sneak away. This is where your power comes from. When they are not looking, you will eat all of the snacks. You will swipe bonus drinks. While they talk and have a good time, you will grow more confident, more powerful.

Think of the single best one-liner you can come up with. The most critical, cutting barb; the conversation-ending anecdote to end all anecdotes. Work on it until it's perfect, then invite yourself to a conversation and—boom. They won't forget to look for you after that.

Lone Druid

You will need: A beard; a full-sized bear outfit; a dog; a bear outfit for the dog.

Bring your dog to the party and spend all of your time petting and feeding it. If somebody offers you a drink or something to eat, demand that your dog gets the same thing. Later, do all of your socialising through your dog. If somebody tries to talk to you directly, point out something interesting or amusing about your dog. If they then attempt to disengage from conversation, send your dog after them.

Alternatively: Chen

A variant on the Lone Druid costume, the Chen costume shares many of the same principles. Instead of bringing your own dog, however, you will spend the first few hours of the party in the host's garden trying to turn their own pets against them.

Rubick

You will need: Somebody else's Riddler costume (stolen); a stick with a green rag on the end; a green mask.

One for the social butterflies. Don't feel confined to a single group or aspect of the party. Move freely and attempt to ingratiate yourself with everybody. Become the soul of the event: offer kind words where they're needed, diffuse aggression, endorse good times.

Then, when you are settled, start to steal other people's jokes. Hang out in a group until somebody tells a funny story, then disengage, walk across the room, and tell the exact same story there. You'll get away with this for a surprisingly long time.

When confronted about your rampant patter theft, insist that you do not steal—only borrow. The final and abiding irony here is that the writers of Dota 2 lifted this line from Picasso.

Silencer

You will need: A purple bishop's hat; a dressing gown; a silver frisbee; no scruples.

At the beginning of the evening, focus on approaching groups of partygoers and subtly making them feel uncomfortable. Don't say anything so objectionable that conversation stops, but make sure that everybody feels bad. For example: if you overhear a friend complementing the host on their cooking, point out that many, many people—far more than you will ever meet—are vastly less fortunate, and that many of them suffer even now.

Then, up your game. Actively seek out and create stifling social encounters. Examples include:

"Hey, I thought you guys broke up?"

"Good call, not spending much time on your costume—hers took hours."

And so on.

The party will grow quieter and fracture into isolated groups as people retreat into their comfort zones. Conversation will be muted, tentative. This is when you must bring the evening to a close: stand in the centre of the room, draw a deep breath, and clearly and loudly say something utterly and unforgiveably offensive.

Well done! You have achieved global silence. Nobody likes you.

Diretide

Don't respond to your party invitation. Later, explain that you are busy and that you might—might—make it along at New Years.

To read more Three Lane Highway, click here.

PC Gamer

Developers 34BigThings promise "the fastest arcade racer since the good old days of F-Zero and WipEout", and those comparisons are justified based on the early footage spotted by PCGamesN. Glossy tracks, loop-the-loops, track adornments that strobe into burning coils of light as you bounce around each improbable bend, a sound track that goes BOP-BOP-BOP-BOP at a slightly faster pace than a resting heart rate - yes please.

The team sums up their track design philosophy like this: "Racetracks are boring. Race on rollercoasters." It's named after a phrase for the reddening of vision under extreme G-force, with a bonus colon because all PC game names have to have colons in them that's the law.

Here is more, from the studio's YouTube channel.

And here are some pictures, from the studio's website.

Neat, no?

...

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