Grand Theft Auto V

I've hardly hidden my admiration for Grand Theft Auto 5 stunt performer Ash Skyqueen in the past, but her stunts never fail to surprise me. She's been messing around with machinima creation of late however, as you can see below, she's clearly not lost her knack for stunting in the interim.

Best known for her Mount Chiliad pylon and Liquor Hole skydiving ventures, Ash's latest combines the latter with some impressive swirling and swooping atop an Oppressor custom sports bike. Look, see:

As if Ash's Opressor skyscraper glances and crane junction ducking weren't extraordinary enough, topping the performance off with a variation of her Liquor Hole finish—the history of which we covered over here—is top drawer. 

Catch more of Ash's work via her YouTube channel, and read about the spectacular feats of the Grand Theft Auto stunt scene by way of that there link. 

Half-Life 2

In March, new images from Junction Point's cancelled Ravenholm-set Half-Life 2 episode emerged. Led by Warren Spector, the studio's take on the eerie zombie town was said to include a Magnet Gun—a twist on Freeman's iconic Gravity Gun—and the creator has now explained what its function within his game would've been. 

Speaking in this month's PC Gamer UK magazine, Spector affirms Ravenholm was not simply an outpost in the ill-fated story's campaign, but that the episode was to be set there entirely. 

"We wanted to tell the story of how Ravenholm became what it was in the Half-Life universe," Spector tells us. "That seemed like an underdeveloped story that fans would really enjoy. In addition to fleshing out the story of Ravenholm, we wanted to see more of Father Grigori and see how he became the character he later became in Half-Life 2."

Speaking to the Magnet Gun, Spector explains how it would use projectile magnetic balls to attract metal objects from a remote location. Even in writing the examples he describes sound like great fun.

"It went through several iterations, but the one I remember was one where you'd fire a sticky magnetic ball at a surface and anything made of metal would be forcefully attracted to it," says Spector. "You could fire it at a wall across an alley from a heavy metal dumpster and wham! The dumpster would fly across the alley and slam into the wall. You can imagine the effect on anything approaching you in the alley—either squashed or blocked. 

"Or you could be fighting two robots and hit one with a magnet ball and they’d slam together making movement or combat impossible for them. Or you could be trying to get across a high-up open space with an I-beam hanging from a cable in the middle. Stand on the I-beam, fire a magnet ball at the far wall, the beam swings across the gap, walk off it, done."

PC Gamer UK's November issue is on sale now.

PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS

When Brendan Greene did a PUBG AMA earlier this week, he said the forthcoming new map will also feature three new vehicles. At the time, he teased that we'd have to "wait and see" what they are, but now we know what at least one of them will be. It will be a van heavily reminiscent of the ye olde Volkswagen Kombi vans.

As for the other two, we'll have to keep waiting to see. This particular van will be an especially stylish way to barrel dangerously throughout PUBG's sprawling maps, but unlike the Kombi's reputation – at least here in Australia – it likely won't be a symbol of peace and love.

In addition to the new vehicles, Greene hinted at a bunch of other stuff that PUBG players can look forward to. Read the full report over here.

Gang Beasts

In the crowded field of local multiplayer games where up to four players can compete to pummel the guts out of each other through their faces, Gang Beasts stands out. Its clumsy balloon-limbed characters wear animal costumes, its levels include a ferris wheel and the tops of several moving trucks, and its physics turn everything into a stumbling shambles. Gang Beasts is still in early access but it's already hilarious. 

On Steam Gang Beasts is free to try for the weekend as a way of stress-testing its new server architecture, networking, and so on. This is a perfect opportunity to sample a game that made our list of the best local multiplayer games and our list of 12 PC games with amazing combat.

That's no joke! The way Gang Beasts lets you control your arms independently, grabbing with one while punching with the other for instance, or just clambering up a wall over a pit while somebody else clings to your foot, turns every match into a perfect slapstick movie brawl.

The free weekend has started now and will end at 9pm Pacific time on Sunday, September 24. It's 33% off for the duration as well.

The Darkside Detective

In the Indie GIF Showcase, we dig up the best-looking new and upcoming indie games and explore what makes them special. Are you developer with a game to submit? Use this form.

The Darkside Detective is a point-and-click adventure set in Twin Lakes City, where demons, the undead, and cultists are a regular problem. The Darkside Division are tasked with dealing with occult crimes in Twin Lakes, but there's only enough room in the budget for one detective: Francis McQueen.

The Darkside Detective uses pixel art to make the strange seem mundane, to bring to life a town where zombies on the lawn are just one of those things, where ghosts in the library are the purview of one detective and a uniformed cop who sometimes buddies up with you, Sam & Max style.  Creators Spooky Doorway released The Darkside Detective earlier this year, and it earned a mention in our list of the best detective games thanks to its winning writing and a soundtrack by Ben Prunty of FTL fame. But its chunky graphics are worth celebrating too, perfectly crafted for an adventure game where you don't have to pixel hunt for tiny details. Everything is upfront, and its faceless characters aren't hiding anything. 

Road Redemption

Road Redemption, a Kickstarter-funded motorcycle racer inspired by Road Rash, was meant to launch back in 2014. That didn't happen, though it's been in Early Access for a good while and seems to be keeping its fanbase happy, judging by the Steam rating. Oh, and it's a rogue-lite now too, according to a new press release, though it doesn't seem like an especially punishing one. You get one life, but you get to keep your XP when you die.

The game will exit Early Access on October 4. It has a single-player campaign fully playable in multiplayer; 4-player splitscreen cooperative play; lots of RPG-esque skill trees and "tons of brutal weapons". 

According to a statement by the devs, the game has already sold around 100,000 copies in Early Access, so with any luck you won't have much trouble finding people online to play with. Check out the launch trailer below:

Call of Duty®: WWII

The recent Call of Duty: WWII story trailer, and the four squad trailers that followed, focused exclusively on the American soldiers of the US First Infantry Division, who experience the war from the beaches of Normandy to other "iconic" battlefields across Europe. But Sledgehammer Games co-founder Glen Schofield told GQ that while Private Ronald "Red" Daniels of the Big Red One is the game's central character, he's not the only one whose story will be told. 

"You won’t play as a German in the single player, but you do play as other Allies. You play as a female French resistance soldier, as an RAF pilot, and as a tank commander," he said. "But it all comes back to Ronald 'Red' Daniels. He’s a kid from Texas and it’s a story about him and his brother. They basically walk through France, with 60 pounds on their back, a 10 pound weapon, and lousy equipment. You’ll liberate Paris, but then it goes to hell again. We show the euphoria and then the letdown.” 

While COD:WWII is heavy on "spectacle," Schofield also emphasized the studio's commitment to historical accuracy. He related a story about speaking to historian and consultant Marty Morgan about a train wreck that occurs in the game. "I’d call Marty up and say, ‘I need a train. I need a very important train. Around April of 1944.’ He came back with four different ones, we narrowed it down to two, and the final one was more interesting than what I was coming up with myself," he said. The train crash that came out of all that effort, he noted, "is major."

Schofield said the new game won't "shy away from some of the big things," like racism, sexism, and "all the brutalities." But it will also "make a distinction between Nazis and Germans," he added. "One of the first things we did was talk to people from Germany and people said to us, 'I’m a German not a Nazi'. We make sure we have that distinction in there as well—the human side of both sides."

Call of Duty: WWII will be out on November 3. Before that happens, a multiplayer beta will get underway on the PC on September 29.

Assassin's Creed™: Director's Cut Edition

Once upon a time, Ubisoft's library was simple: it made platformers starring terrifying mascots with no limbs, and roughly 17,000 Tom Clancy tie-ins. But over the last decade, Ubi has muscled in on the genre that GTA made famous, building huge worlds spanning radically different time periods. Regardless of whether you’re controlling a historical hitman or a coma-bound cop, though, Ubisoft’s sandboxes love to borrow mechanics from other Ubi games.

Join us as we look back at the history of the Ubisoft's open world games, to see just how these sprawling sandboxes have evolved (and grown more and more alike).

A stealthy start

Ubisoft first began to dabble in the sandbox space with 2007’s Assassin’s Creed. Skip back a decade, and you’d never guess the seismic scope the franchise would reach. Before the 2D spin-offs, books, and shitty Michael Fassbender films could wear us all down, there was just this ambitious (more than a bit broken) sandbox that spawned many of the features open world games still cling to in 2017. 

Chances are you don’t remember much about the original Assassin’s Creed. You probably recall moping around ancient Jerusalem stabbing folk as a dude in a hoodie. Perhaps you have a dim recollection of eavesdropping on NPCs chatting away on benches. Maybe you even remember that early kickass trailer with the horribly catchy Unkle song

Far Cry 3 s antenna towers undoubtedly cast the longest shadow on almost every Ubi open world that followed, but that's not where they started.

The one thing you’ll definitely recall is Ubisoft’s obsession with making players scale super lofty buildings. That all started in Altaïr’s adventure. To fully scope out all of the Holy Land’s side activities, you had to climb the tops of the tallest structures across Jerusalem, Acre, and Damascus. Doing so gives you a very literal eagle’s eye view of the sprawling mass of humanity hundreds of feet below; a bird of prey swooping around the building when you reach its summit. 

These vertigo-bating landmarks birthed Ubi’s most infamous open world feature: gradually filling up a map with mission markers.

Crossover feature: Climbing towers

Assassin’s Creed may have introduced us to the idea of big-ass buildings that revealed points of interest when climbed, but it was 2012’s Far Cry 3 that really cemented the feature. Jason Brody’s leopard-punching, pirate-blasting, tattoo-inking tropical holiday had the sort of wide reaching influence on the open world genre its two predecessors could only have sweaty night terrors about… mainly because its predecessor literally gave you malaria

Surprisingly, Far Cry 2’s obsession with making you stuff pills down your throat to keep mosquito-borne diseases away never caught on—nor did its love of jamming weapons. Far Cry 3 ditched the annoying obstructions in favour of features that kept you itching to explore.

Far Cry 3’s antenna towers undoubtedly cast the longest shadow on almost every Ubi open world that followed. Scaling these rickety structures—which often feel like they’re being kept up by little more than prayers and a few loose screws—helps Brody fill his map up with all manner of side distractions. Haphazardly jumping, swinging and climbing your way between the crooked layers of the towers in Far Cry 3 isn’t just a hoot in and of itself, it also makes tracking the series of wildlife hunts, enemy encampments, treasure chests and races spread throughout the densely packed archipelago a lot easier.  

Crossover feature: Animals

Also, animals. An ark's worth of animals. Brief hunting escapades may have popped up a few months prior in Assassin’s Creed 3, but it was Far Cry 3 that really took the pelt-collecting ball and ran with it. Forget quietly ruminating on the unspoken majesty of the animal kingdom: Ubi’s critter-obsessed shooters just want to make you shoot endangered species in their furry faces. 

Not that the trend Far Cry 3 kicked off (which seemed heavily inspired by Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption) entirely revolves around needless slaughter. Hunting down and skinning animals allows Brody to use pelts to craft ever larger ammo bags and other weapon-focused accessories. 

The creature carnage in Far Cry 4 takes things even further, with attacks coming from land, sea and air—lord are that game’s ultra aggressive eagles ever jerks. The Himalayan sandbox would also introduce rideable beasts in the form of rampaging elephants, which the prehistoric follow-up would go nuts with.

Last year’s Far Cry Primal makes the toothy, tusked inhabitants of its ancient world the stars of the show. Far Cry 3 may have let you punch sharks, but next to Primal’s wild encounters, that's positively tame. When you can train sabertooth tigers, command jaguars to stealth kill fellow cavemen, and use an owl as a sort of feathered, Mesolithic drone to tag enemies—a feature both Watch Dogs 2 and Ghost Recon: Wildlands would quickly reskin—bopping Jaws’ cousin on the nose ain’t no thang. 

Ubisoft has since pushed more animals into Assassin's Creed: Origins. Even Watch Dogs 2 depicts San Francisco's Pier 39 with a rookery of slovenly seals leisurely sunning themselves on gangplanks.

Crossover features: Sneaking, tagging, and stealth takedowns

Stealth has also played a large role in many of Ubi’s open world games, regardless of the setting, era or enemy type. It started with players blending into crowds with the ‘social stealth’ gameplay of the original Assassin’s Creed. It was an innovative feature for its time—after all, most stealth games up to that point forced their characters to either hide in the shadows or a cardboard box.

Sneaking mechanics were quickly shoved into most of its games following Assassin’s Creed's success. Who cares if these stalking scenarios were often absurd: they make for easy mission design, dammit!

Over the years Ubisoft has proven there s no open world setting it can t crowbar a stealth section into.

Diving underwater, then pulling pirates into the drink as you clear out enemy strongholds in Far Cry 3. Slipping between cover to slap a chokehold on Watch Dogs’ various shortsighted guards. Poking Edward Kenway’s head out of Assassin’s Creed 4’s suspiciously plentiful patches of long grass. Using a tiny, extra voyeuristic RC car to infiltrate the offices of a tech startup in Watch Dogs 2, then zapping any security personnel that get too curious. Solid Snake and Sam Fisher have a lot to answer for.  

Whether you’re whacking religious zealots in the time of the Crusades or putting San Francisco office workers to sleep with a taser gun, over the years Ubisoft has proven there’s no open world setting it can’t crowbar a stealth section into. 

Tagging enemies is another prominent feature most Ubi games have turned to over the last few years. This actually predates Ubisoft's open worlds, in games like Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and Rainbow Six: Vegas, but it's since become a vital part of their sandboxes as well.

Placing markers down to keep track of your foes’ positions popped up in Far Cry 3, with Brody’s super useful set of pirate-tagging binoculars. Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, and Ghost Recon have all subsequently borrowed this eagle-eyed feature, while even the likes of Metal Gear Solid V have benefited hugely from Jason’s peeping Tom bouts of recon making tagging an open world staple.

Oh, and almost every one of those games lets you perform stealth takedowns, too. Because of course any self respecting hipster hacker/out of his depth fratboy/neanderthal can neutralise foes with the quiet, deadly efficiency of a Navy SEAL team.

Yeah, that looks about right.

Crossover feature: The Ubisoft collectible

This is the big one. More than any of the above crossover features, one recurring element has helped prop up Ubi’s increasingly sophisticated sandboxes this past decade: collectibles. ALL the collectibles. 

Eagle feathers in Assassin’s Creed; lost letters and spirit totems in Far Cry; Watch Dogs’ key data caches; Kingslayer files in Ghost Recon: Wildlands; even crystalline shards in the otherwise wonderfully nonconformist Grow Home, and its sequel Grow Up. Grand Theft Auto 3 may have introduced the world to sandbox collectibles with its fiendishly placed hidden packages, but we doubt Rockstar envisioned game worlds rammed full of bird feathers, PC files and statue heads. 

Hell, Ubisoft has even managed to cram several garages full of collectibles into its vehicled-based sandboxes. 2011’s brilliantly offbeat Driver San Francisco has 130 movie tokens to hoover up as you bomb around the Golden City while you mind-jack cars in gaming’s most exciting coma. The Crew wouldn’t miss this OCD party for the world, either. The flawed 2014 racer scatters 20 Wreck Parts in each of the five sections that make up its vast North American sandbox of endless highways. 

Ubisoft's impulse to put collectibles in everything extended all the way to Driver: San Francisco.

It’s almost as if Ubisoft doesn’t trust you enough to leave you to your own devices for five minutes. A good thing, too. Why take your time admiring the painstakingly recreated canal networks of Renaissance era Venice in Assassin’s Creed 2, when your inner completionist could be making Ezio ruin his shins by scampering up rooftops for mangy bird feathers?

There’s no question Ubisoft’s open worlds have evolved drastically over the last ten years. Place the original Assassin’s Creed next to the upcoming Beyond Good & Evil 2 (Michel Ancel’s long awaited sequel lets you explore entire galaxies), and you may as well be comparing a kid’s crayon scribbles to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Still, there’s no question Ubi’s plethora of internal studios love to crib concepts from each other’s games. 

So whether its a slightly out of place stealth mission, wads of XP to splurge on increasingly convoluted skill trees, or vaulting up towers to open up that fog covered map, you should probably expect Ubisoft open worlds to continue to share crossover features as they continue to evolve. Darwin would be delighted. Probably. 

Divinity: Original Sin 2

Update: Divinity: Original Sin 2 producer David Walgrave tells me that Larian doesn't plan to patch out this technique because it's "part of the system." 

"It appears that it is not a never-ending loop and you're not doing anything else while you're doing it," wrote Walgrave. "It's not like you're damaging anything for free without spending action points. If I understand this trick, it's still within the purposeful synergies of our skills and usually these are accounted for."

That's true: you can't do anything while the loop runs its course. Though, based on the video, which shows a troll losing 6048 HP like it's nothing, it's obviously quite a loop, technically 'never-ending' or not, and I've asked for further clarification. For now, rather than 'fix' the combo, Walgrave says they "applaud" it. Examples of techniques that would be patched out include anything that "breaks the fun" or is actually a bug. "If this would tick in realtime, it would be a bug," wrote Walgrave. "And if this does not cost AP/skills and/or is not blocked by cooldown/consuming a scroll/... then we look into it."

Otherwise, "If you glitch the system, congratulations," concludes Walgrave. So there you have it, feel free to combo trolls to hell all you want. The original story and explanation of the trick follows.

--

One of the magical things about Divinity: Original Sin and now its sequel, Original Sin 2, is how complex and liberal their combat systems are. Whether by design or by accident, the glut of spell and physics interactions sometimes lets you get away with ridiculously OP moves. In the first game, for instance, players leveled up telekinesis, made absurdly heavy objects by stacking containers, and then dropped them on enemies for unreasonable amounts of damage. Original Sin 2 now has its own trick, courtesy of Ashandis on Reddit (and others), except this one appears to deal unlimited damage to a single enemy.

You can see the trick in action in the video above. How it works relies on several complimentary spells, as well as a quirk particular to undead characters: they take damage from healing spells. 

So here's the trick. You have one party member cast Soul Mate on an undead party member. This spell will cause the undead character to receive half of any healing the caster receives, which will actually damage them. But that's OK, because you've already had the undead character cast Living on the Edge, which will prevent them from dying for two turns, no matter how much damage they take. 

The caster of Soul Mate must have a passive ability called Life Leech, which will heal them every time they deal damage. And that's how you get the loop. Say I'm the original caster of Soul Mate: I now cast a healing spell on myself, the undead character takes half that healing as damage (Soul Mate), I receive more healing because I damaged the undead character (Life Leech), they receive more damage because I was healed again, and on and on it goes. 

Of course, that doesn't help you, as you're just dealing unending damage to one of your party members. So there's another ingredient: the undead party member uses Shackles of Pain to deal all the damage they take to an enemy. 

According to Ashandis, the loop doesn't prevent you from taking turns, so it can be ended by letting Soul Mate wear off. I'm not at a place where I can try it myself, but the abilities are all real, and the methodology makes sense.

There's no word on whether Larian intends to patch out the loop, or if it even considers it an exploit—there are lots of ways to 'break' Divinity's systems, and some are intentional, as Fraser discusses in our glowing review. This one may be a bit too OP to keep around, but you never know. I've reached out to Larian for comment.

Thanks, Kotaku.

Shadowverse CCG

If you've found the current state of Hearthstone to be a little stale, you should consider trying Shadowverse. We recently ranked it as one of the nine best digital CCGs that aren't Hearthstone, and while it bears some similarities, "it stands out in its own ways," particularly through an "Evolve" mechanic that gives players the ability to buff and transform their cards. The, let's say somewhat excitable, anime art won't be for everyone, but look past all that embonpoint and there's a very solid card battler here.

Shadowverse's sixth card set, called Starforged Legends, is on the way, and we've been given an exclusive look at three of the new ones right here. We'll leave assessing their power to the experts, but the Dolorblade Demon looks to be pick of the litter: It's a Forestcraft-class card, 5/5 unevolved and 7/7 evolved, that deals one point of damage to all enemy followers. 

The Swordcraft-class spell card Round Table Assembly puts two random three-point Commanders from your deck into play.   

And finally, Star Priestess, a 2/3 unevolved, 4/5 evolved Havencraft card that destroys and allied follower or Countdown amulet and then returns it to play.

Of course, your mileage may vary: Feel free to let us know which of these cards (if any) will fit your deck.

Starforged Legends adds 104 new cards to the game on September 28. "This time the adventure takes place in the final frontier—space," developer Cygames said. "Enlist the power of celestial heroes, participate in conflicts of cosmic proportion, and forge your myth among the stars!"

In case you're not convinced, here's a trailer. 

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