PC Gamer
PC Gamer

We've partnered with Bundle Stars to give you a chance to win $500 in your Steam Wallet! Two winners will be selected to win the $500 Steam Wallet prizes, while ten runner-ups will win the Fully Loaded Bundle, which includes 10 games. 

To enter, check out the widget below. You'll get two entries for joining the PC Gamer Steam group, two entries for joining the Bundle Stars Steam group, and one entry for tweeting about the giveaway. Each entry gives you a better chance to be selected to win, and you can get even more entries for referring friends to enter the giveaway through Facebook and Twitter. 

The giveaway starts Friday, January 30th at 2pm GMT and runs until Monday, February 2nd at 2pm GMT. Winners will be contacted by email after the giveaway has ended on Monday. Good luck!

PC Gamer

A new asymmetrical multiplayer shooter from the makers of Left 4 Dead should be a cause for celebration, right? And yet, somehow, Evolve keeps managing to dilute its core promise. I haven't even played it yet—I hope it's brilliant—but its orbiting Business Strategy has seriously sapped my enthusiasm.

Here's the new thing: a mobile companion app that takes the form of—you guessed it—a free-to-play match-3 mini-game.

Here's the trailer:

And here's a passage from the trailer's description. Time how long it takes before you become visibly annoyed:

"Use match 3 tokens of the same color to unleash devastating attacks on your enemies, and fill up energy bars to activate hunters special abilities. Earn Mastery Points to rank up your character in both the mobile and console games. Explore the planet of Shear in search of new wildlife and monsters. Discover and complete your collection of exotic wildlife in the Bestiary, and earn unique art for the Evolve console game. Enhance your Evolve skills by watching your multiplayer match replays from a strategic top-down view, and devouring intel in the Game Changer. Evolve: Hunters Quest lets you continue your Evolve experience from anywhere!"

In case you were wondering, I became irate at the point that the description twice uses "Evolve console game" to describe a game that is also on the PC. And again at the phrase "devouring intel in the Game Changer". Nonetheless, it's a thing that'll let you earn Mastery Points towards bonuses in the main game. If that's a thing you want, and your tolerance for match-3 games is high, I guess this is something you can do now.

Apparently, Evolve isn't just a mechanism from which to hang a companion app and a bewildering selection of DLC and pre-order bonuses. There's also a game—one due out on 10 February.

Ta, Eurogamer.

PC Gamer

Last week, Firaxis announced Sid Meier's Starships—a game that both includes the Sid Meier moniker and is being made by Sid Meier. It's a Civ: Beyond Earth spin-off set amid the warring fleets of space exploration.

Last night, Sid himself sat down in front of a Twitch audience to tour fans through the game as it currently exists. You can see the recording of that stream below. (Skip to about 8 minutes—that's when things start happening.)

The Beyond Earth influence is clear from the off. It features the same leaders and affinities, giving players of that game a sense of progression within this. Naturally, the focus is different. Starships is all about the fleet, and so resources and tech are geared to upgrading your ships.

Starships is due out "Early 2015".

Thanks, PCGamesN.

PC Gamer

Despite being possibly the worst time to make a AAA game about militarised police, EA is forging ahead regardless. Judging from this new trailer, their plan to avoid any tricky real-world parallels is to double-down on the ridiculous gadgets. In real terms, this means grappling hooks and a zipline firing crossbow—tools that make me approximately 50% more interested in a game I was previously ambivalent towards.

All in all, it looks like an enjoyable romp. We'll find out more when the open beta launches next week, on 3 February. Soon after, on 17 March, the full game will be unleashed.

PC Gamer
Image via Reddit

Raphael  Hosty Tsantili has been summarily released from Team Archon following accusations that he cheated in a tournament earlier today. Archon, which was created by popular streamer Jason  Amaz Chan, tweeted from its official account:

Archon has decided to release Hosty from the team. We in no way condone anything that would compromise the integrity of the game.

Here s where things get confusing though. On his own account, Amaz tweeted:

.@ArchonHosty is a great guy and friend, and I do not believe he cheated. Releasing Hosty isn't based purely on Pinnacle 2.

Given that Archon is for all intents and purposes Amaz, it seems odd for him to say he doesn t think Hosty cheated, especially since the official team account is making a point about not bringing the game into disrepute.

The specific accusation againsty Hosty is that during his matches against Lifecoach and Forsen at Pinnacle 2, (which is also run by Amaz), he had the tournament stream open on his second monitor, the reflection of which could be seen in a picture behind him, and was regularly glancing at it to see what cards his opponent was holding.

Well, what cards his opponent was holding 10 minutes ago. Pinnacle was streamed with a 10-minute delay, meaning the information would have been out of date, but still potentially helpful. In a long enough game, it would be easy enough to deduce what cards your opponent still had in hand based on what you d seen him play.

Twitch chat cottoned on to the second monitor fast, and it didn t take long for a Reddit thread carrying the accusation to explode. That thread was subsequently deleted by the mods, (presumably on the no witch hunting basis ), but has been reinstated since his release from Archon. So far Hosty s response has been to tweet that he ll be responding soon, (that was two hours ago), and offer this defence on Reddit, in which he admits he had the channel on idle .

I watched the matches play out live in the office this afternoon and, for what it s worth, couldn t say with any certainty that I think something was awry. If Hosty was cheating, it was a particularly inept attempt. The reflection was obvious, and he managed to lose both series anyway. What the incident does confirm is that Hearthstone tournaments need to be policed more clearly, with longer delays and strictly enforced rules about any sort of stream sniping.

PC Gamer

Well-known Counter-Strike mapmaker FMPONE, he of de_crown and de_season fame, is working on a new map based on the Santorini island in Greece. FMPONE or Shawn Snelling as he's known IRL announced the map earlier this month but has just released a bunch of screenshots on the Mapcore forums. The map currently lacks texture work, but it still looks beautiful.

"For this level, I'm trying to purely map 'tones', until I'm ready to add in actual textures," FMPONE wrote on Mapcore. "The tones allow me to control for contrast without being overwhelmed by the need to balance specific colors within a scene. This also allows me to understand the types of props I need in an area without being biased by color preferences beforehand.

"This means I'm building a lot of geometry in place of meshes, for the time being, and the meshes will be added later by a talented artist named Dimitri."

The map layout is already playable (check out the link on the Mapcore forums) but remember: it's not complete. Check out the rest of the screenshots below.

PC Gamer

Dead State was plagued by a number of technical issues when it came out last year, but even so it was good enough to make Evan Lahti's "Personal Pick" for 2014. And now you can try it yourself, without spending a dime: Developer Double Bear Productions has released a free demo that offers roughly ten hours of play over the first seven days of the game. 

The Dead State demo includes 15 survivors who can join your shelter, 18 unique locations to explore, and interactions with factions including looters, survivalists, and the Coyotes, a fearsome motorcycle gang. You'll have to deal with all the same problems that come up in the full game, from practical matters like finding food and reinforcing your shelter, to dicier issues such as resolving conflicts between your fellow survivors and deciding which outsiders can be trusted.

The demo covers just the first seven days of play, but saves can be carried over into the full version if you decide to pick it up. Speaking of which, the fifth patch is also now live, which among other things adds loading screen images and tips, adjusts weapon balance, tweaks dialog, and fixes a number of bugs. A breakdown of the latest Dead State update is here, while the 1GB demo can be downloaded from the Dead State Steam page.

PC Gamer
PC Gamer

We asked some of the top minds in four of today's top e-sports about the state of their games.

Dota 2

Will "Blitz" Lee

Will "Blitz" Lee is a professional Dota 2 player, streamer, and sometime caster. You might know him for his Storm Spirit, for his work on the International 2014 newbie stream, or for his role as waifu to Purge's husbando. Formerly of Team Zephyr, he crossed the elusive 7K MMR barrier in January.

What was the highpoint of 2014 for Dota 2?

I'd say the TI matches between DK and EG. All the matches these teams played between one another were highly innovative and close, demonstrating the best of the west, and the fan favorites of the east.

How would you describe the health of the Dota scene?

Fairly strong, I think the active user base is growing, but I hear unrest from competitive players. It feels with how much TI is worth, all other tournaments are just sideshows along the way. There needs to be some way to incite interest again, maybe making tournaments worth seeding points or something.

If you could ask Valve to make one change, what would it be?

Be more transparent with how TI invites are sent, and how tournaments are weighted. Are ones earlier in the year worth less? etc.

In terms of Dota, what do you think was the funniest thing that happened last year?

That I hit 7k before Arteezy.

What is the biggest challenge that the competitive Dota scene faces in 2015?

Probably figuring out how to grow the tournament scene without relying on massive prize pools. It seems the tournaments that pay out 50k+ which is really good money have been left behind or interest is waning for them. I'm not sure how to solve this issue though, just random thoughts.

Who are the players or teams that you think will make the biggest impact this year?

Iceiceice is probably the x factor for VG, think Secret will do well but that isn't really a surprise.

What heroes are you personally enjoying right now?

Storm, Phantom Lancer, Sniper, Lina, all seem really fun and active around the map.

What do you think are the key components of a good Dota stream?

Humor, being able to make fun of yourself/take a joke, being informative, and not letting the chat get to you. Interaction with your stream is also huge, being able to make a personal connection with everyone helps bring people back.

Which Twitch meme makes you secretly smile?

"I sexually identify as an attack helicopter."

Where do you expect the next big innovation or upset in the Dota scene to come from?

Probably a team like Hellraisers or the Koreans, I feel team's like Phoenix/Rave/HR just sort of do whatever fits them without paying attention too much to whatever is popular in other regions.

How would you describe the current state of Korean Dota? Where is it headed in 2015?

Strong, Phoenix and Rave make good cases for being invited from the SEA region, and both can upset top teams, in 2015 I think one Korean team will make it into the main event, but if they make a splash remains to be seen. Maybe one more year till they get top 10 worthy, but with the work ethic it s possible.

CS:GO

Tomi lurppis Kovanen

Tomi lurppis Kovanen is a writer at HLTV.org and former competitive CS 1.6 player from 2004-2013. Since then, he has been casting and hosting CS:GO tournaments.

What was the highpoint of 2014 for CS:GO?

I believe the highpoint of 2014 for CS:GO was when NiP won ESL One Cologne. The way it happened probably made it the best storyline of the entire year—you really couldn t have scripted it much better. To top that off, CS:GO as a game broke all the previous records (viewership, players, etc.) during that same event, though they were again shattered later on in 2014.

How would you describe the health of the CS:GO scene?

CS:GO is doing tremendously well. There is no question that Counter-Strike as a whole has never been doing better. It seems—though it would be great if Valve could clarify—that we re set to have three or so majors a year now, which allows the rest of the circuit to be built around it. As far as I can tell we re going to have top notch Counter-Strike all-year round in 2015. It s a great time to be a fan of the game.

If you could ask Valve to make one change, what would it be?

In my opinion, and I have written about this in more detail roughly a month ago, the only real issue with CS:GO as of right now is that it is an incredibly counter-terrorist sided game. In my article I have outlined some ideas to make the game more balanced, but if I had to choose just one, it would be fixing the smokes so they d maybe last a second or two less, would be slightly smaller (think 10-20%) and, most importantly, they wouldn t glitch for the player trying to go through them.

In terms of CS:GO, what do you think was the funniest thing that happened last year?

I found it legitimately hilarious when Fifflaren essentially replaced me as the analyst at DreamHack events after retiring from NiP. Contrary to popular opinion there are no hard feelings between us and he actually is my favorite caster to watch.

What is the biggest challenge that the competitive CS:GO scene faces in 2015?

I actually believe the scene is getting slightly oversaturated in terms of tournaments and online leagues, and we are already seeing some top level teams withdraw from many events with a good amount of prize money up for grabs.

Who are the players or teams you think will make the biggest impact this year?

Though kennyS already is the world s best player individually in my opinion, his team s struggles in 2014 didn t allow for him to have the kind of impact you would expect. I think that will change in 2015 as he continues improving and the team around him will get better.

What weapon or knife skins are you running right now? Is there anything in the Chroma update that you d really like to get?

In terms of skins my taste is far too conservative for the average user, I tend to like skins without any odd graphical features. I like the Night knives, as opposed to the shiny Chroma ones, for example.

What do you think are the key components of a good CS:GO stream?

Since my personal appetite for streams is so inconsistent with that of the public, I will answer for what I believe makes for a popular stream. You need positive personalities who can kill some time while waiting for matches, preferably some players as guest analysts sometimes, and you need to be consistent in streaming. As for my personal preference, to me it s very important that CS:GO itself looks default I dislike custom crosshairs, odd-colored HUDs, etc.

What Twitch chat meme makes you secretly smile?

My friend allu, who currently plays for Finnish 3DMAX, has a ridiculous looking meme of a face I made around eight years ago. It s pretty funny.

Where do you expect the next big innovation in CS:GO to come from?

Well it wouldn t be very innovative if I called it out right now, would it? One thing is for sure—it will not come from Valve, who have never been very innovative when it comes to the game. Hopefully a governing body of some kind could be put together by some people to help better organize the tournament circuit. That would be good for the scene.

Is item betting helping or hurting CS:GO?

To be honest I have never bought the argument for how betting could potentially be hurting CS:GO. There is so much evidence in terms of viewership growth that betting is great for CS:GO that this really should not be a discussion. It is easy to blame DDoSing only on betting, but it was already taking place in the CS 1.6 days when betting didn t really exist. Some people just want to see the world burn.

If you could pick the competitive map pool, what would be in it?

Out of the maps that are currently available, I would keep de_cache, de_dust2, de_inferno, de_mirage and de_overpass. I would then bring back de_train instead of de_nuke—which is basically never played—and replace de_cobblestone with de_season. I would also look into bringing on de_tuscan, maybe instead of de_mirage, if that becomes popular—and gets finished—at some point.

League of Legends

Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles

Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles is a caster for the Korean OnGameNet Champions league. He was also previously a coach for team Counter Logic Gaming in the NA LCS, and is frequently brought on to cast international tournaments.

What was the highpoint of 2014 for LoL?

I look back fondly on the series between KT Arrows and Samsung Blue in the Champions Summer finals. Not only did this best of five deliver high quality gameplay, but also some of the most exciting and gut-wrenching games of the year. This was undoubtedly the high point of LoL in 2014.

How would you describe the health of the LoL scene?

Viewership for League continues to grow on average for broadcasts around the world, so it seems to still be going strong. Riot's changes to balance at the end of 2014 and the new Rift should keep the game fresh and strategically interesting as 2015 unfolds.

If you could ask Riot to make one change, what would it be?

I think the main aspect of competitive play currently lacking resides in the limited amount of international competition in the current format. Cross-regional competition provides the most exciting matches for fans and helps fuel rivalries that otherwise remain untapped in a region-locked system.

In terms of LoL, what do you think was the funniest thing that happened last year?

As an analyst there are many moments of comedy gold, but the hope that springs eternal for Western teams from fans at Worlds perpetually provides amusement.

What is the biggest challenge that the competitive LoL scene faces in 2015?

Given Riot's stellar production and ambitious multi-country Worlds circuit in 2014, I believe that the most formidable challenge lies in somehow topping Riot's production from last year.

Who are the players or teams you think will make the biggest impact this year?

The obvious choice given performance and rosters look like SK Telecom, Najin, and OMG. Faker seeking his second World Championship should form the core of storylines in 2015, though it is nearly impossible to predict a winner at this early stage.

What Champions are you using personally right now, and how are they performing?

I don't play the game much. I watch film.

What do you think are the key components of a good LoL stream?

I do not watch player streams but instead prefer professional matches. For me, a pro game relies on quality casting rather than production wizardry.

What Twitch chat meme makes you secretly smile?

ognTSM ROTATIONS ognTSM gets me every time.

Where do you expect the next big innovation in LoL to come from?

Until they are dethroned in a convincing manner, Korean teams will reign supreme in terms of innovation and quality of play.

What are the consequences and benefits of Riot expanding their e-sports broadcast to the Eastern Hemisphere?

Given Riot's stellar production quality, their expansion into more leagues likely benefits the majority of fans. The consolidation of English broadcasts onto a single channel will likely boost viewership for all leagues and therefore increase sponsorship opportunities for individual regions.

How would you compare the current state of Korean LoL to how it was last year, now that you're a couple weeks into the spring split?

Balance seems great so far, with many more interesting facets of the game unexplored to date. The new jungle remains relatively untapped and itemization options continue to expand.

Hearthstone

Dan "Frodan" Chou

Dan "Frodan" Chou is the voice of Hearthstone, with his easy charm and laconic wit heard casting back to back tournaments around the clock. He s also the man with the unenviable job of keeping Reynad s salt at optimal levels, as manager of team Tempo Storm. We asked him about the state of play in the Hearthstone scene.

What was the highpoint of 2014 for Hearthstone?

From the fan side, the biggest part of 2014 had to be the release of Hearthstone and the Naxxramas adventure. It was exciting to see how Blizzard would take their first step into expanding beyond the core set which is key to keeping the player base active. From the competitive side, the high point was the World Championship. It was the first time that I got to see a legitimate crowd of 2000 people showing up for the event, getting hyped, cheering for their favorite player, and going nuts.

How would you describe the health of the Hearthstone scene right now?

Hearthstone is in a great spot. It is baffling to think about what this game can do once it releases on mobile phones and gets consistent content out there. Dozens of other game developers and communities would kill to be in a similar position to where it is now relative to e-sports and Twitch.

If you could ask Blizzard to make one change to the game, what would it be?

Content! It's important to keep the game fresh. I also would like more social aspects of Hearthstone to develop. Clans, chat channels, tournaments, spectator mode. They all have one thing in common—interacting with other players!

In terms of Hearthstone, what do you think was the funniest thing that happened last year?

Funniest moment had to be sharing the couch with Ben Brode. His laugh is a real life version of Patch Adams.

What is the biggest challenge that the competitive Hearthstone scene faces in 2015?

The biggest challenge is spreading the wealth of fandom and storylines. We need more people with different kinds of backgrounds and personalities to cheer for. I believe there are a strong batch of Hearthstone players that are undiscovered, great at the game, and fun to follow.

Who are the players or teams you think will make the biggest impact this year?

If I may be biased for a second, I really do believe Tempo Storm will turn heads this year again. Last year, we hit a few rocky patches, but the team has really taken off as we are starting to turn out incredible high quality content on our website tempostorm.com for all skill levels (beginner to legend). Archon also has strong potential with Amaz at the helm and I wish them the best of luck.

What sort of deck are you using personally right now, and how is it performing?

My favorite deck to play right now is Fatigue Mage. I love the feeling of desperation when a player has literally run out of options and are completely hopeless. When they hover over their Hero Power and realize they will die faster than they can kill me, my heart skips a beat.

What do you think are the key components of a good Hearthstone stream?

A great Hearthstone stream involves a good mix of personality, information, and interaction. Some streamers have natural charisma. Some are good looking. Some have fun gimmicks like cosplay, showmatches against other streamers, etc. The whole point is that one isn't better than the other, but there are all kinds of streams to enjoy. I personally love watching Reynad for the laughs, Dog for the education, and Trump to calm me down for a nap.

What Twitch chat meme makes you secretly smile?

Too many, but my favorite involve all of the variations of Kripp's excuses. Too good. This guy's interview questions are CRAZY! He needed precisely those 13 questions to ask me. I answer the question perfectly.

Where do you expect the next big innovation in Hearthstone to come from?

It's hard to say. This is primarily what teams are for—to help refine and practice decks in secret. Hearthstone's primary innovations come from unknown players who inspire the well known innovators. Kolento and Firebat for example often have people behind the scenes helping them with their wacky decks. True innovators like StrifeCro and Reynad will definitely keep coming up with their own material.

What s your opinion on BM ing in pro matches? Do we need more?

I don't think we need more of it, but I think it's great to showboat a little. There's a difference, however, in trying to be mean-spirited versus having fun. I think its a fun element where it sets up natural storylines: see Savjz vs Realz in ESGN fight night!! :D

Do you think Goblins vs Gnomes has had the desired effect in terms of increasing deck diversity at tournaments?

Absolutely. Contrary to popular belief, Hearthstone has an incredible amount of diversity at the moment. There are so many ways to play classes that its hard to keep track of them. You have to be highly advanced in order to tell from one or two cards and even then, you can still make mistakes. People who moan about the unpredictability are often the people who care the most about winning and not having fun. They will have their time in the sun once the metagame is figured out.

Which card deserves to be nerfed most: Dr. Boom, Mech Warper, or Wisp?

I don't want them to nerf Wisp or my budget Dr. Boom will be useless on EU!

...

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