PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS

Earlier this week, a popular Playerunknown's Battlegrounds streamer named Dr. DisRespect was temporarily banned from the game for killing his teammates. His celebrity didn't save him: As Playerunknown himself said on Twitter, "If you break the rules in PUBattlegrounds, no matter who you are, you're gonna have a bad time!" And as a player by the name of sxk7 (on Reddit) discovered, that policy is not flexible.

The trouble started, sxk7 explained, when he and two friends were assigned a random teammate to fill out their squad. But after landing at Novo, "all of a sudden our random queued teammate just killed my 2 friends and he was coming for me next," he wrote. "Obviously I tried to defend myself because I wasn't just going to let this guy kill my entire team and go on with the game. I managed to kill him and just left the game shortly after because there was no point in playing anymore." 

Sxk7 filed a report, backed up by video, and very quickly received a response from an admin. Unfortunately, the response was not quite was he was expecting. "Thank you for submitting a report. I'd like to inform you that the user reported has been temporarily banned," the admin said. "According to the Rules of Conduct you were given a 3 day as well for team killing. Next time, don't kill them and just submit it." 

(The killing starts around 2:18.)

A little later, according to this thread, PUBG community manager Slyvinlisha justified the ban, saying that if players don't want to be "grieved" then they should turn off auto-matchmaking.

"[Sxk7] was AWAY from his friends and the TK'er, it's an 8x8 map," Slyvinlisha wrote. "If he wanted to go on w/o his friends he could've gone away but he didn't. He turned around, went to the TK'er, killed him and quit the game. He also broke the rules!"

And that's true—there's no question that both players broke the clear and simple rules against team-killing. But on the surface of it, at least, there's also little doubt that the circumstances were different: The first player was presumably just out to be a jerk, while sxk7 was understandably upset at having his game ruined, and as much as such a thing can be said to exist within the context of a videogame, was defending himself against a hostile player.   

Interestingly, Playerunknown has put up a couple of tweets recently stating that players will only be banned for "malicious team killing." But the definition of "malicious" seems to refer to anything that isn't either pre-arranged, as we saw in this marvelous gong show, or accidental. In fact, the rules of conduct state specifically that "there is no excuse for non-accidental team kills," and warns that TKers should be reported, not killed. 

This incident, and the Dr. DisRespect disagreement, make me wonder if maybe Bluehole will be forced to reconsider its approach to team-killers in the future. One idea (which, for the record, is not mine) would be to simply auto-tag TKers based on the frequency of their offenses, and let the situation work itself out naturally. Habitual killers will eventually be unable to find anyone willing to team up with them, and will either straighten themselves out, or go away—all without requiring any intervention, or interpretation, on the part of the developers or admins.

Right now, though, the bottom line is this: If you don't want to eat a ban in PUBG, don't kill your teammates.   

Call of Duty®: WWII

War never changes, as the saying goes, and in what I'm guessing is that spirit Activision has released a trailer introducing the Nazi Zombies of Call of Duty: WWII. But these zombies, Sledgehammer Games boss Glen Schofield said, are going to be quite a bit different from their predecessors. 

"With Nazi Zombies, we're creating a frightening world full of terrifying characters and events that will make you jump and look over your shoulder. There's an incredible amount of myth and lore, which our team has poured through in our development," he said. "This is unlike anything before, we're taking players to some very dark, grim places in Nazi Zombies. This is one hell of a horror experience."   

It sounds like the basic premise will be essentially the same: "An international team peels back the vile layers of a malevolent plot masterminded by the Axis powers to harness unimaginable occult forces and create an invincible undead army." And it will feature a cast of recognizable names and/or faces, including David Tennant, Elodie Yung, Katheryn Winnick, Udo Kier (of course), and Ving Rhames. 

But the trailer seems darker than previous CoD zombies outings (like, for instance, this), and if Sledgehammer takes a genuinely horror-focused approach to it, Nazi Zombies could be the most interesting crossover between the worst infestation of inhuman evil to ever plague the Earth, and zombies, in years. 

Call of Duty: WWII is set for release on November 3. If you're unclear as to why an ostensibly serious shooter about the Second World War has hordes of undead running through it, catch up with our history of Treyarch's zombie timeline (big surprise, it begins with Nazis) right here.  

Citadel: Forged with Fire

Citadel: Forged With Fire is an "online sandbox RPG" announced last week by Blue Isle Studios, the developer of Valley and Slender: The Arrival. And it's apparently well into development, because despite being revealed to the world so recently, it will hold its first open beta this weekend. 

The original plan was to hold a closed beta, but the number of signups was so great that the studio decided to forgo the whole application process and open the doors to everyone. "We’ve received a great response from the community and with support from Valve we’d like to invite everyone to play and post their impressions on Citadel: Forged With Fire for free on Saturday,” Blue Isle managing director Alex Tintor said.   

“This is just the beginning, as we are committed to delivering a continuous stream of of new content with the goal of ensuring that players always have something new to see and experience each time they play.”   

The beta will run from 9 am until midnight ET on July 22, which for those who don't have a calendar handy is this Saturday. During that time you'll be able to simply download the client from Steam and dive in. Citadel: Forged With Fire will be available for purchase on Steam Early Access shortly after the beta ends (July 26, specifically) for $25.

Behold, a trailer.

Shadow Warrior

Earlier this month, the original, 1997 Shadow Warrior went free on GOG. Now the Humble Store is upping the ante by making the 2013 remake—the "Special Edition," no less, with the soundtrack, art book, and a couple of unique weapons—free until 10 am PT on July 22.

The updated Shadow Warrior is an outstanding example of how to bring an old, outdated (ie., pretty racist) property into the modern era: Pay homage to what was good about it, ditch everything else, keep it amusingly stupid and wantonly violentl, but slip in a better story than anyone expects, too. In case there's any doubt, I was a big fan, and so the whole "get it free" thing definitely rings my bell.

To get your freebie, just head over to humblebundle.com, click where it says "add to cart," and then take it from there. And since you haven't actually spent any money, why not check out the Bandai Namco Anime Sale while you're there? God Eater 2: Rage Burst, Tales of Berseria, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, Dragon Ball Xenoverse, and more: They're anime games, and they're on sale until July 24. 

And now, we rock. 

Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read our affiliate policy for more info. 

PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS

There is one hopeful, unifying truth in this terrible life: anime. And now we can breathe a little easier before sleep each night knowing that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is also anime, thank goodness. The proof? In episode two of the anime series Gamers! an animated depiction of PUBG makes an appearance in the opening sequence. I’ve yet to watch the episode myself, but you can see the short PUBG cameo thanks to a timely tweet from Daiz42.  

You can see the episode and verify its accuracy through streaming services like Crunchyroll, but it's clearly an homage to PUBG, right down to the map and weapon UI. Most matches in PUBG tend to skew in dramatic and bizarre directions anyway, so the anime clothes are a nice fit. 

And best case scenario, we get a full series and finally dig into the tomes of lore Brendan Greene is no doubt sitting on right now. Where is the battleground? Why are the players stuck in an endless loop of murder? What’s up with those ruins and strange symbols? I’m sure it all carries intense purpose. 

ARK: Survival Evolved

"Ark: Survival of the Fittest was for us an experiment," says Studio Wildcard's co-founder Jeremy Stieglitz. "It started as a mod and it was pretty cool and pretty fun. I lot of these games that are very successful—like PUBG, like, you know, Counter-Strike or DotA—originate as mods and can switch over to standalone titles."

Having begun life as a mod, Ark: Survival of the Fittest became a free-to-play standalone game in early 2016. As a promising battle royale-type venture—in a world prior to the likes of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds—it failed to take off and was later "reintegrated" into the main Survival Evolved game.  

According to Steam Spy's data, less than 300 people played Ark: Survival of the Fittest concurrently yesterday—whereas over 350,000 took to the wargrounds of PUBG simultaneously. Given the unexpected, astronomical success of Brendan Greene's similarly styled battle royale game, I asked Stieglitz where he thinks SotF went wrong, and whether or not Studio Wildcard will revisit it down the line.   

"We thought Survival of the Fittest would have that potential based on the fact that it was a pretty fun mod and there were a decent number of players. It never quite caught on as a standalone, even as a free-to-play which of course means it should larger numbers of players," Stieglitz explains. "We didn't want to charge something like that anyway—it's not our intent to charge for that kind of game and also, frankly, our primary priority was and is developing Ark: Survival Evolved. 

"It was an experiment that didn't catch on but we do think there's a fun game there. We've debated many times why it didn't quite hit the sweet spot when similar games—you might call them arena survival games, of some sort—have really taken off. Especially recently with PlayerUnknown's game and also [H1Z1] King of the Kill."

Stieglitz says he's unsure of where Survival of the Fittest fits into today's landscape, but that a lack of resources have prevented he and his team from reinvigorating the game as it stands. Stieglitz suggests the fact SotF's slow-paced, complex and hour-long battles mean its hard for players to drop in and out in the same way they can in PUBG—but the fact Ark includes dinosaurs is nevertheless appealing to the battle royale genre. 

He continues: "I don't know it'd be as big as PlayerUnknown's title, but I think dinosaurs are very agreeable to a general audience and they're cool in a PvP environment. Everybody understands how powerful a T-Rex is compared to, say, a rapture. That's a very intuitive thing—it's a good spectator game in fact. However, it really comes down to focus right now. We're a very small team relative to what we try to do - we've got about 30-some people in our core team—and it's difficult for us to develop Ark: Survival Evolved and Survival of the Fittest at the same time. 

"Honestly, I guess we'll have to see. Once Ark: Survival Evolved's core game is out the door in August, even then we're going to want to see what we can do with the mechanics. We plan many core gameplay updates for the foreseeable future. If somewhere in there we can find a group of people, however, who would want to take SotF forward, we probably would be interested in working something out."

Stieglitz notes that the team originally working on Survival of the Fittest were better versed in the technical side of the game as opposed to design. He admits Studio Wildcards has "toyed" with the idea of revisiting it, but that it's most likely to be kickstarted if they find the right developer externally, or if that developer finds them.  

"If we were to revisit it, we have to do so and ask: do we rebuilt it entirely or do we find a team that can take it forward," Stieglitz adds. "That's what it really comes down to: it's not that I don't think there's a good idea there, I do, but someone's got to actually make it. And we're a little too small to make it at the same time as Ark: Survival Evolved. 

"I certainly like Survival of the Fittest and I would hate to see nothing else come of it. My ability to predict the future is obviously pretty bad. Anything could happen I guess I could say."

Fallout 4

Fallout 4 modder GengisKhanX has featured on PC Gamer previously by virtue of his Trash Collection and Beautifier Shotgun mods—both of which are designed to spruce up the otherwise messy Boston Commonwealth. His latest Main Hand Throwing Weapons and GKX Weapon Miscellany projects are, as the names probably suggest, less passive.

Of the latter, the creator describes it as "a collection of weapons [he's] made that really don't fit any other category, or warrant their own mod." Within you'll find 'Melee Shooters', which contains a strange array of sweet roll-firing Rolling Pins, Pool Cue Shooters, and a Baseball Grenade Bat. 'Throwing Junk' lets you throw junk around, as opposed to relying on the Junk Jet; whereas 'Meganades' is simply a collection of large explosives—"throw them and run," explains GengisKhanX. 

GKX Weapon Miscellany also houses 'Main Hand Throwing Weapons' which lets players toss Shurikens (using GlobalFriction's 2016 model) and Throwing Knives. While the latter exists elsewhere on Fallout 4's corner of Nexus, this iteration allows players to toss blades without the use of a grenade slot, and also boasts hand animations, instead of shooting directly from the first-person camera. 

GengisKhanX describes the mod at present as a "proof of concept" that he's keen to receive feedback on. As such projectile speed could do with tinkering, and animations are little rough around the edges. Nevertheless, I've enjoyed GengisKhanX's work to this point, and I'm fairly certain there's more to come here. 

More information on both Main Hand Throwing Weapons and GKX Weapon Miscellany can be found via those there links.

Darkwood

Remember Darkwood? You know, the successfully crowdfunded top-down survival horror game that entered Early Access in 2014? That's right, the wonderful scare 'em up that was sort of reminiscent of Teleglitch but with a far more robust tool system whose slower pace in turn cranked its tension up to 11. Yeah, that one—it's now got a launch date. When? August 17. 

To mark the announcement, developer Acid Wizard Studio has released the following live-action trailer:

I'm not a huge fun of live-action trailers, and interesting games like Darkwood don't need them. With this in mind I'd rather share its now three years old interactive alpha trailer, which still holds up today:

With that, Darkwood tasks players with free-roaming its horror world by day and hiding out at night—setting traps and engineering barricades to boost what the devs reckon is a "faint" chance of survival. You'll meet a cast of quirky character along the way, whose minds may or may not have been warped by injecting the world's mutated fauna and flora. 

"Remember: don't trust anyone," says Acid Wizard House. Whether you heed that advice or not, Darkwood is due August 17—more information can be found via the game's official site.

Hollow Knight

Announced a while back, Hollow Knight fans have been eagerly anticipating the forthcoming Hidden Dreams update. Promised for some time this month, it'll actually come a tad later: on August 3 to be exact. 

"In classic Team Cherry style, this is a little later than we said, but we felt the update needed a little more testing and fine tuning before we send it out," the studio's announcement reads. "Plus, we may have managed to squeeze a few little unannounced surprises in there!"

As for what has been announced, Hidden Dreams will include two new bosses, both entirely optional as they're reportedly very hard to beat. There's two new music tracks too, as well as a Dream Gate upgrade which, as the name vaguely implies, will let you fast-travel throughout the map.

And then there's this. I haven't played the game yet so I've no idea what it means:

"A New Stag Station Uncovered - Hallownest’s stags once travelled the breadth of the kingdom, but with the departure of the King, one station was walled away, hidden from bugs and forgotten by stags, until now!"

In case you missed Tom's belated review of Hollow Knight, he really, really liked it.

Path of Exile

Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath, the expansion with "six acts and a whole lot of deicide," will be out on August 4, developer Grinding Gear Games announced today. The expansion will double the size of the current game and adds a new "Pantheon character customization system that lets players wield the power of the Gods themselves." 

The new expansion will bring Path of Exile to a total of ten acts, with both new and familiar locations, some of them changed by "the drastic results of your past actions." Which you will apparently carry on with, based on the announcement: "Explore frozen mountaintops, pristine temples and anarchic city streets," it says. "Leave a trail of furious destruction as you seek vengeance for your exile." 

We saw some of that during our hands-on time with Fall of Oriath in February. The Fetid Pool of Act 1 in the original game has become a lush forest in Act 6 thanks to the demise of the boss that was poisoning it, for instance, while a previously locked door inside a prison is now passable. Battling gods for their powers sounds intense, and of course the opportunity to get some payback for your exile from Oriath, the incident that kicked off this whole grand adventure, has some appeal too.

Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath can be had now, for those of you who just can't wait, with the purchase of a Supporter Pack at pathofexile.com

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