PC Gamer

As developer CCP announced today via a new dev blog, from this November onward Eve Online will let players fly around for free using limited characters. Those who wish to continue on as normal subscribers can existing accounts will remain, but the current trial account system will be axed alongside the imminent November expansion.

New clone states separate free and paying players. Characters can assume alpha clone status for free. This is essentially the new base state and will be available to any character in New Eden at any time. Alpha state clones will be able to explore and trade as they desire, however will be limited to specific ships including tech one Frigates, Destroyers, and Cruisers. Alphas will also train skills at a reduced rate compared to their Omega counterparts.

Omega clones, on the other hand, will behave exactly as your subscribed characters do now. Omega clones who stop subscribing will see their character revert to an alpha state, with access to alpha state ships and skills. If they subsequently resubscribe, the character's advanced omega benefits return. Here's CCP Seagull offering a more in-depth look at clone states:

Further information can be gleaned via the dev blog. The gist is that CCP hopes to introduce new players to Eve Online without disturbing the universe as it stands today.

Part of our vision for the future of Eve has included more open access for some time, but with the interconnected nature of the game comes vulnerability, reads the post. We knew that if the floodgates were opened in the wrong way, we could see anything from server meltdowns to the collapse of the Eve economy. Over time, our hardware has improved, code has been untangled (mostly!) and we ve found a design we believe in.

Eve Online is a game which boasts many fascinating stories, therefore perhaps we can expect even more via this more accessible model. In any event, free accounts will be available from November onward, and players seeking access to advanced skills will continue to require a subscription.

PC Gamer

It has trains, it has...definitely not zombies, Tinybuild s Alex Nichiporchik told Tom when discussing The Final Station at PAX South this year. What it does have is an end-of-the-world-type scenario, swarms of infected , a whole load of sidescrolling and shooting, and a sprinkling moral dilemma. You rescue survivors and, with the resources you ve gathered, you have to make a choice: are you going to use these resources to make sure your survivors live? Or do you just say screw it and get out?

The Final Station is out now, so I guess you ve got the chance to answer that question yourself. Here s the game s launch trailer to aid your decision.

"Travel by train through a dying world. Look after your passengers, keep your train operational, and make sure you can always reach the next station," explains The Final Station's official site. "Make your way through swarms of infected at each station. Explore mysterious and abandoned stations looking for supplies and survivors.

"The real question is whether or not you'll help the survivors get to their destinations...or let them die and loot their bodies. Sometimes people can be more trouble than they're worth."

In his preview of an early build, Andy cited reservations regarding the credibility of the risk vs reward concept Nichiporchik touches on above; however did note that there was something legitimately intriguing in the overarching idea. At the time of writing, Steam reviews are Very Positive , which would suggest the majority of players thus far agree with the latter.

The Final Station is out now on Steam for 10.99/$14.99.

PC Gamer

Tripwire and Antimatter Games aren't interested in describing why the Vietnam War was fought, only how it was fought: tunnels, traps, napalm, and loud ass helicopters splashing the tops of jungle trees. I flew one of those helicopters, a Huey, and nervously landed it wobbling and skidding in a cleared patch of jungle to unload a squad near a vital capture point. I took off while my troops ran, and then from somewhere in the brush a rocket-propelled grenade whizzed into the air, into my rotor. It was all flames and trees after that. The title of a 70s war movie could have been overlaid on my wreckage right then.

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam, the follow up to Rising Storm and the Red Orchestra series of realism-focused multiplayer FPSes, is mostly the tension part of the war movie. It s a lot of slow, creeping movement, a lot of thinking about my positioning and the enemy s positioning, and then a burst of action automatic rifles and explosions and the part where a bunch of extras die. (You're the extra.)

And it isn t strictly from an American perspective. As with the other games in the series, Antimatter (which is based in Cornwall), is not taking sides: this is all about weapons and tactics, a reenactment of war that cares only about how these very different armies won and lost and whether or not we can get into their heads and play out their movements.

This light helicopter automatically marks enemy positions as its flown over the map.

I know there s still a lot of feelings about this particular war, since it is still in quite a lot of living people s memories, said lead programmer and designer Sturt Jeffery, But we don t take any sides here. It s just one side fighting another side in a war that could ve been right, could ve been wrong, we re not going to weigh in to that. It s about the battles, the tactics, for us, and making sure both sides are treated fairly, and nobody s being demonized, and we re not making one to be better than the other.

In researching the game, the team visited Vietnam several times and producer Jack Hackett said he read memoirs from North Vietnamese soldiers which informed some of the tactics and dialogue dialogue referring to contextual lines you ll hear in combat, as there s no story outside the structure of the battles. What they came up with, which I played an unfinished version of with testers, is a multiplayer reenactment of the Vietnam War that is likely unmatched in its attention to detail.

When you see one of these coming, hide.

Asymmetrical warfare

To be fair, Vietnam hasn t been attempted many times in videogames certainly not as often as World War 2 and I wouldn t say Rising Storm 2 is exactly realistic. Something like Arma and its many possible ways to sit, stand, and lie down tries harder at putting us in real bodies, where Rising Storm 2 is more interested in pairing action with a broader concern for authenticity how military technology works and how different armies operated, with leeway here and there to make it fun. One thing particularly exciting is how the asymmetry of the first Rising Storm, which pit American semi-autos and flamethrowers against Japanese bolt-actions and swords, has become more elaborate and striking in Vietnam.

You d think giving one side flying cannons would entirely tip the scales, but it doesn t.

The Viet Cong do not have helicopters. They did have helicopters during the war, but didn t fly them south of the border, says Jeffery, as they knew what would happen if they did. So in maps and modes which involve helicopters, only the Americans can fly them by spawning as attack and transport pilots at an airfield secluded away from the capture points. You d think giving one side flying cannons would entirely tip the scales, but it doesn t.

The Americans are loud. You can hear helicopters from across the map. The VC, on the other hand, bolt through tunnels both actual tunnels built into the map and spawn tunnels which squad commanders can dig, and which act as mobile spawn points the Americans are forced to hunt and destroy. The Viet Cong can also avoid detection by American scout helicopters by staying crouched and still or going fully prone. They can be anywhere, while it s pretty obvious that the Americans are coming from the direction of the Huey that just roared across the map. Two completely different forms of mobility.

And because some Americans need to work as pilots, they have fewer soldiers on the ground attacking points. Plus, piloting wasn t exactly a safe job in Vietnam mounted guns and RPGs can make it hell and it s challenging to fly, at least for inexperienced me. While not meant to be hyper-accurate flight simulations, the helicopters are certainly trickier to control than they are in the Battlefield series, and as they take damage they become even harder to keep upright. Even in the gunner s seat, I struggled to see or hit anything as we circled the map, and needed teammates marking targets so I at least had some idea of where to shoot.

Antimatter wants to achieve a roughly 50/50 win-loss ratio for each side on each map, but it s balancing the sides in terms of interesting tactics and maneuvers, not pure parity.

I love that Antimatter has taken this approach to the American and VC armies. The word balance is so often lobbed into discussions about game design as if it s a single, incontrovertible idea. Antimatter does want to achieve a roughly 50/50 win-loss ratio for each side on each map, but it s balancing the sides in terms of interesting tactics and maneuvers, not pure parity.

This is actually a slightly different approach than the team took for the first Rising Storm. Jeffery tells me that in RS1, the teams were unbalanced, so the maps had to be unbalanced in the other direction to even it out. This time, the teams should be able to compete regardless of which way they re going. Obviously any maps designed to include helicopters (not all do) require some design specific to each team you couldn t spawn the Viet Cong in an airfield they can t use but no soldier has an inherent advantage over the other. It s Type 56 AK-47 vs M16, and there s no clear winner, so maps shouldn t have to be tilted.

I asked how, with so many variables guns, explosives, commanders (one player on each team who can call in scout planes and airstrikes), and helicopters they can make sure both sides are going to have fun. It s a lot of testing, and also a lot of throwing out ideas. While Antimatter decided on everything that should be in Rising Storm 1 from the beginning, it took a different approach this time, trying out everything they thought might work and throwing out what didn t, including dozens of maps. One of the things that came from that process is a daunting new game mode.

Open spaces are dangerous places to be.

Land grab

Rising Storm 2 maintains the series-standard offset Territories mode, in which one side must work its way across the map capturing points while the other defends. The new Supremacy mode, however, is more like Battlefield in that the map is wide open and you can go after any point you like something Tripwire and Antimatter developed as they looked for ways to represent the more open, guerrilla warfare of Vietnam as opposed to WWII's lines. But rather than running down some number of enemy tickets by holding territory as in Battlefield, Supremacy is a tug of war. Every few seconds, the difference between the American and Viet Cong-held bases pushes a bar in one direction or the other, so it s possible to be near defeat and then start shoving the bar back until you have the advantage.

The smarter team will disrupt and distract the enemy.

What especially makes Supremacy more challenging than Territories is that each point actually represents a large piece of territory on the map which borders other territory, and teams can only earn points from territory they own if it s connected to their home base. Say the Americans control all the points and are quickly nearing victory: If I, as the Viet Cong, were to take the point directly adjacent to their base, cutting it off from all the other points, I could stall their victory (though they d still earn a few points from their home base). So it s very important which points you attack and defend (some are worth more than others, too), which makes the commander and squad leaders integral to victory someone has to be looking at the map, figuring out where the enemy is going, and calling the shots in voice chat.

Both sides can play it like a straight-up Territory match and go toe-to-toe, says Tripwire vice president Alan Wilson. The smarter team will disrupt and distract the enemy. The US, for instance, can have players use their binoculars to set targets on top of key objectives. The commander will then wait for VC sneak attacks to call in artillery or napalm or an AC-47 Spooky, which summons several seconds of circling 7.62mm minigun fire on the target. The VC, meanwhile, can call in its own strikes, fill objectives with traps, and harass Americans with well-placed spawn tunnels.

In practice, this is all pretty tough to jump into. I had no sense of where the enemy might be which is partially the right feeling to have if you re on the American side or what to focus on. In my defense, I was trying to ask questions to the developers while also listening to my squad leader and deciphering the user interface, something Antimatter recognizes needs work.

It always takes me a little while to adjust to playing a Red Orchestra or Rising Storm game, where a single bullet from who-knows-where can kill you. Eventually I found a nasty camping spot behind a building across a flat field from a Viet Cong spawn tunnel. I watched them sprinting across the flatland toward a hill and started spraying them with my M3A1 Grease Gun. A couple fell before I was shot in the back.

The sights of some of the guns are grimey and overbearing, and the sniper rifles especially give you tiny scopes to peer through.

The guns may be automatic in Vietnam, but they aren t necessarily easier to use than in the first Rising Storm, with its bolt-action and semi-auto guns. Held at the hip, they don t fire at an invisible reticule in the center of the screen, instead firing exactly where the barrel is pointing, somewhere off to the right of your body. Suppression is more effective in RS2, and exhaustion causes significant gun sway. The sights of some of the guns are grimey and overbearing (the M3A1 especially), and the sniper rifles give you tiny scopes to peer through.

On one very unfinished Territories map, I set myself up on the third floor of a half-untextured building peeking out of a smashed wall at a tower about 300 yards away. I knew the Viet Cong were hanging out in that tower from a prior experience getting killed repeatedly. So I lay there and waited, my M16 sights blocking much of my view. When I thought someone was up there, I fired in bursts, mostly blasting at the stone. Every now and then, in the upper-right corner of the screen, I would see a kill notification with my name at the front.

Shell shock

Like the others in the series, Rising Storm 2 won t be an easy game for newcomers, as much as Antimatter and Tripwire will try to help out with tooltips and training. Anyone used to clearly-marked enemies, not accidentally killing teammates, and guns with simple and predictable recoil is going to have a hard time at first. After you spot an enemy in Overwatch, for instance, you can chase them around and have a duel that spans half the map. In RS2, they might disappear behind a small hill a couple seconds after you take your first shot and chasing them will probably get you killed in as many seconds. Half the time I m shooting at dirt, hoping that even if I don t score a hit, my suppression is helping keep someone away from a point. I once spent 10 seconds shooting at a teammate because I didn t hover my sights over him long enough to see his name tag. That s embarrassing.

I m shooting at dirt, hoping that even if I don t score a hit, my suppression is helping keep someone away from a point.

Meanwhile, in the helicopters I pelted the ground where I thought enemies might be, hoping I accomplished something scared them, at least but not always knowing. It s an unusual FPS because it doesn t ask me to move quickly and fluidly and have snappy reflexes as much as it asks me to be cautious, aware of the battlefield, and sensitive to my weapon s awkwardness and inaccuracy. I was already a fan of the series before I got to play RS2, and my demo reiterated what I enjoy about it, even with the switch to AK-47s and M16s.

One minor disappointment is that while Rising Storm 2 has new things under the hood model fidelity improvements, higher-resolution textures, new shaders it doesn t feel like any big technological improvement over the last game. The lighting is still flat, some of the textures are ugly, and soldier animations are awkward if you catch them up close. They nailed the trees, which are dense and tall and intimidating, either as a source of hidden enemies or something to accidentally pilot a chopper into but it also wasn t hard to get stuck on bits of the maps or have to fight the geometry of hills by hopping and zigzagging.

Tripwire is soon going to provide more engine development support to Antimatter games, and as far as the maps go, every issue I had is fixable. Many were superficial and expected of work-in-progress maps missing textures or areas that haven t been smoothed out and the foundation of Rising Storm 2, that asymmetrical design, works and is a lot of fun for someone already attached to the series. As usual, there will also be community-made maps and mods apparently a lot of backend work has gone into RS2 that should make it easier to modify so who knows what scenarios we ll be dropped into a year or two after release. Tripwire and Antimatter haven t announced a release date yet, but the plan is to get Rising Storm 2 out in early 2017.

PC Gamer

King of the Kill, the multiplayer Battle Royale mode that spun off from H1Z1 to become a standalone game, will leave Steam Early Access on September 20. The price is rising to $29.99, but developer and publisher Daybreak Games has announced that the current price of $19.99 will remain as long as the game is in Early Access, meaning you'll be able to buy it for the lower price right up until launch day. You can watch the announcement trailer above.

I got to watch developers play a round of the latest build of King of the Kill during a private Twitch session (I had been invited to play myself but couldn't make it) and I did see a number of improvements from the last time I played. The UI looks better, inventory management is simpler, and I also noticed lighting improvements that make the game look significantly crisper. There's also some slick integration planned that will allow players to connect their Daybreak and Twitch accounts, so streamers and their fans can easily enter team matches with each other.

Most notably, the vehicle physics have been completely overhauled. I watched one developer race a Jeep around for several minutes, and at no point did it flip over and skate across the pavement upside-down after hitting a tiny bump (as I experienced when I played H1Z1 a while back). The handling is different for different vehicles, and the cars now look fun, rather than frustrating, to drive.

The launch will include a new map called The Arena (Early Access playtesting will begin on September 2) and for competitive esports players, King of the Kill will also introduce a season system, though a start date and season length haven't been determined yet. The H1Z1 Invitational will take place on October 2 at Twitchcon in San Diego.

You can learn more at King of the Kill's official site.

PC Gamer

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain was our game of the year in 2015, however the foundations for it were laid by standalone introductory chapter Ground Zeroes. Today, Konami has announced Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience which gathers both games and a bunch of DLC under one banner.

Due to launch via Steam on October 13, players can expect additional Mother Base currency , as well as a slew of items, including Rasp Short-Barrelled Shotguns, the Adam-ska Special handgun, a range of Personal Ballistic Shields, and a number of costumes for The Phantom Pain. Previously console-exclusive Ground Zeroes missions D j Vu and Jamais Vu are also included, as are a number of DLC packs and weapons for Metal Gear Online.

Metal Gear Solid V has received collectively over 60 industry accolades and awards thus far, says Konami president Tomotada Tashiro in a statement. The Definitive Experience will give players an opportunity to play the complete MGSV experience, without interruption. Additionally, with Metal Gear Online, players also get access to a completely unique multi-player setting that is designed for a truly engrossing gaming experience as well.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience is due October 13. Console versions will cost 34.99/$39.99, however Steam pricing is yet to be confirmed. Read Sam s review of The Phantom Pain over here.

PC Gamer

Back in January, strategy specialists Arcen Games announced its then newest game the roguelike bullet hell Starward Rogue had been received well critically, but had flopped financially. This in turn forced mass layoffs at the studio, its founder and CEO Chris Park wrote in a blog post, therefore much rested on the shoulders of its latest game In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor.

After just three days on sale via Steam s Early Access programme, it s been pulled, refunds have been offered, and will now be given away free-of-charge.

I'm going to give all the customers of In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor a full refund and let them keep the game, then take the game off sale, explained Park in an update post on Saturday just three days after the game s Wednesday launch. The game is selling extremely poorly, even below what happened with Starward Rogue.

Park then explored the reasons why such a seemingly drastic decision was made after such as short period of time, which he said was mainly down to past experiences and his regret for failing to act quickly enough in steadying the boat. In a new update posted today, Park explains he and Arcen s plans moving forward and how to initiate refunds.

Finally today I was able to have full conversations with Valve and Humble, we got things taken down, and I finally have some concrete answers for you on exactly what is planned next, says Park. Valve had some great suggestions based around the multitude of various requests that people have had during this period. I wasn't sure exactly what to do, so I was very glad for the guidance there.

Ultimately, Park hopes In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor will eventually catch on in its free-to-play state, something which will make him consider a fully-realised follow up. Otherwise, Arcen will work on AI War 2: Rise from Ashes a follow up to the original game which made the company s name.

Although stated in the posts linked above, there doesn t appear to be any way to download or install In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor for free or otherwise at the time of writing.

PC Gamer

Fallout 4 s decrepit amusement park DLC, Nuka-World, is out now packing new enemies, weird weapons and the chance to finally become a raider. Besides being a little frustrated with its convoluted opening, Chris seemed to mostly enjoy his time milling around in the game s sixth and final add-on, and the latest developer diary offers a sneak peek of what you can get up to.

Your first 10 hours in Nuka-World will be spent endlessly shooting and little else, as each threat must be 100 percent neutralized before the surprisingly cautious raiders will move in, says Chris in his review. Doing so while skooshing explosive Quantum Nuka Cola from a water gun, or melting Gatorclaws (alligator-like Deathclaws) with the Acid Soaker looks like particularly good fun.

Nuka-World s creators discuss the different raider factions you ll be up against/be able to side with, and the various locations the new theme park area offers. Still, the inventive weaponry at your disposal sounds the most appealing aspect of the DLC to me.

The Thirst Zapper, which is the weapon that you saw in the Nuka Girls pin-up posters, you get early on in the add-on, explains the expansion s lead artist Mark Teare up there. You can mod that as you discover the secrets of how they ve weaponised Nuka Cola, and turn that into a really devastating weapon. Which looks pretty awesome in motion.

Fallout 4 s Nuka-World DLC is out now and costs 14.99/$19.99. If you d like to see more, an hour-long dev stream can be viewed here, while James ideas on where the series should go next can be read in this direction.

PC Gamer

When I look back on the last 10 years of Fallout I remember a collage of greys and browns. I remember dark industrial corridors and spiked shoulder pads. I remember lunchboxes and rusty tire irons and a song about setting the world on fire. Three games and a combined 200 hours later, I remember a name or two (can t forget Boone and Caesar), and a few distinct locations and vaults, but the rest of my memories bleed together.

Successful and popular as it is, Fallout could reinvent itself a little. Assassin's Creed also gets some flak for being samey, but its changes of scenery and period have done a lot to keep that series fresh. I think it s time for Bethesda to leave popular US cities behind and hit the dusty trail.

No city for old men (or super mutants) 

Bethesda typically withholds the cities in Fallout until you re several hours in, building them up as infamous hubs for the remnants of civilization, full of danger and allure. I remember seeing New Vegas on the horizon for the first time the way it lit up the pitch black Nevada desert drew me in right away. But when I finally got there, Vegas was only the bone dry skeleton of what I imagined it to be.

via Forbes

The casinos are massive, empty galleries for the same few textures, and the city itself is tiny, so small it feels less like a city and more like an elaborate theater troupe s stage. The characters and quests were great, but because it s based on a real location, it was impossible to ignore how poorly it imitated a real city.

New Vegas disappointing reveal highlights a conundrum for the series. Due to tech and design considerations, cities in Fallout will always be smaller and less impressive than their real life counterparts. And even if they were gorgeous recreations to scale, they d be boring and repetitive in terms of design and at risk of feeling empty, especially depending on how many NPCs the engine can handle.

The density and iconography of a city may have cultural appeal, and the implication that every building is its own post-apocalyptic dungeon is an enticing promise. And it can be fun until you actually spend 40 hours wandering one corporate skyscraper or casino after another only to realize that hundreds of years and a few nuclear bombs aren t enough to make a cubicle interesting or imbue a restroom with sacred meaning.

And besides location, Fallout s satirical 1950s take of post-apocalypse urban culture and popular American history has lost its sheen. There are only so many Super Mutants wearing old-timey war uniforms I can laugh at in a lifetime. Instead, show me one dressed as Meriwether Lewis and another as William Clark. Put me under their command and let s head west.

Pack your bags

Here s the pitch: if Fallout leaves the cities behind, it shouldn t isolate itself to one area or region. If we re still satirizing American history, there are plenty of angles to take: as above, taking industrial canoes up the Mississippi as Super Mutant Lewis and Clark, rebuilding the Transcontinental Railroad, making the trek across a dangerous radioactive Dust Bowl in a sloppy jalopy for the promise of riches in the New California Republic you can see where I m going here. And the world shouldn t be a single open environment, but a series of smaller connected ones.

Pack in less file-cabinet-searching filler and endless Minutemen questlines and focus on telling specific, unique stories while giving a gorgeous post-apocalyptic tour of the diverse American landscape. It s worked for some of the best new RPGs out there, so why not Fallout?The Witcher 3 (a game we like) is categorically an open world game, but instead of taking place on a contiguous map, it uses several open world modules to successfully create a sense of distance traveled and establish the world of The Witcher as a geographically and (somewhat) culturally diverse place. The citizens of the mountainous islands of Skellige live by simpler means, but are also subject to the dangerous weather and scarcity of mountainous living, which shapes their social and political landscape. Harsh living conditions means they generally treat one another as equals, but with fierce judgement. There s no room to waste time or resources. Meanwhile, the citizens of Toussaint live in relative luxury thanks to its lush, bountiful land. But the disparity between the upper and lower class colors it in extremes between the bourgeois wine-binging castle dwellers and the systematically abused working class. Someone has to pick the grapes, but no one wants to.

The areas themselves aren t massive and don t have something new to do every 50 meters, but they feel massive thanks to their unique geographical character and great art design. Coupled with questlines that convey the culture and history of each area, the things you do are specific to who and where you are.Point Lookout, a DLC expansion for Fallout 3, is one of Bethesda s best examples of similarly focused design and storytelling. It takes place in a part of Maryland untouched by bombs, but deeply affected by residual radiation, turning it into an eerie swamp dotted with rotting shacks and inbred axe-wielding hillbillies. The map isn t huge, but the stories are more personal and the locations more expressive. I remember it more vividly than most quests and locations from the main game because it wasn t beholden to representing a huge iconic city.Expansions like Point Lookout and the widely celebrated Old World Blues DLC for New Vegas prove that Bethesda can produce smaller, more focused open world modules on par with The Witcher 3 s geographical diversity without sacrificing intrigue.

Bethesda s next Fallout game could make use of this design scheme from the get-go, breaking down specific areas of America into their own small open world modules that may not represent the scale of an entire region, but distill their character into a smaller space. If we re following the Lewis and Clark pitch, the journey could start in a rural riverside shantytown in the deep south where you build a boat, recruit some help, and allocate resources for the long trip ahead. The area is lush and humid, a hub for the locals who help out with whatever post-apocalyptic southern hospitality looks like.

The US is best defined by its fringe folks, troublesome history, idiosyncratic interstate pit stops and its gorgeous, lonely landscapes.

One loading screen later, we stop for supplies in a stretch of the Great Plains, a former farming mecca warped into a vast desert plain, where radioactive dust storms turn an otherwise featureless plain into an evolution of Fallout 4 s Glowing Sea. Short trips are made tense by the threat of dangerous weather that ll pump up the rads and obscure the twisted forms of freerange wildlife. Buffalo aren t as majestic as they used to be. An otherwise empty plain earns character from the impression of its sheer expanse and natural danger.

Later, we visit a small village in the Rockies and see what life is like furthest from radioactive influence. Does any semblance of normal life still exist in this world? I imagine the area as Fallout meets a pocket Skyrim, with a few weird trappers thrown into the mix and talking grizzly bear. Bethesda s writers all groan in unison. The terrain is treacherous, but dense, marked with old cabins and mineshafts.

The Rocky Mountain Front (via Panoramio.com)

Different locations would also give Bethesda room to experiment with their existing systems. Radiation storms of the Great Plains could work as progress gates, hiding away fancy treasures behind deadly waves of radiation only survivable by wearing the appropriate gear. Survival might not only be dependent on radiation management either. Weather conditions unique to each location could influence stats directly. If you re wandering the snowy mountains in the nude, you re definitely getting debuffed. Hunt some mutant elk and make a coat already. The crafting systems could roll in some regional character, rewarding thorough exploration and serving as scrapbook of sorts. Just look to the success of the Far Cry series as evidence that combat, crafting, and light survival systems can work in a natural setting without a city as the backbone.

I ll leave the actual design and writing to Bethesda, but the point is that American identity doesn t hinge on its cities, and open world design is actually compromised by trying to wrap them in. Truly, the US is best defined by its fringe folks, troublesome history, idiosyncratic interstate pit stops and its gorgeous, lonely landscapes. They re a perfect fit for Fallout, where the fun isn t the breadth of its open world, but the depth of its quirky characters, settings, and expansive systems all of which can work in a space of just about any size.

PC Gamer

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Game of the Year Edition is out tomorrow, and that means it's time for two things: A patch, and a trailer. They're both good.

You can tell right from the start that this is a legit Witcher trailer because it begins with sex. Then we flash to a monster of some sort, then back to some more, kind of creepy-sexy antics, and then Geralt intimidates a couple of thickies at the local watering hole. Eventually he does get around to killing some monsters, but we all knew that was coming. The Witcher 3 has been out for well over a year, after all.

Also coming tomorrow is the 1.3 patch, a full breakdown of which can be found here. Highlights include a fix for Roach's vanishing tail (Roach is Geralt's horse), another that ensure Hughes spawns correctly in the Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Granite quest, a fix for a bug that left some dye recipes inaccessible, and one that made two NPCs in the Without a Trace quest impossible to defeat. It seems clear, based on that list, that CD Projekt is digging deep to find things to fix, which is how we end up with lower-priority changes like, The Rabid Rock Trolls near the Dun Tynne crossroads are slightly less rabid on the 'Just the Story' difficulty level.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Game of the Year Edition is the complete package, including the Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine expansions, and all the individual pieces of DLC that have been released since the game first came out. Full details are up at thewitcher.com.

PC Gamer

Over the weekend, a Reddit post went up claiming that Steam was offering refunds for No Man s Sky regardless of playtime. It quickly gained popularity, becoming one of the most upvoted posts on the entire site, and while it s not a lie it is possible to get a refund for No Man s Sky whether you ve played one hour or 40 the headline is misleading players. Valve has not made an exception to its automatic refund policy for No Man s Sky, and because of the number of players looking for one, Valve dropped a PSA on the NMS store page to clear the air.

As their policy states, Valve will automatically refund any game for any reason only if the request is made within fourteen days of purchase, and the title has been played for less than two hours. Because of the Reddit thread, a growing contingent of players are under the impression that No Man s Sky is an exception to the two-hour rule, generally based on claims of false advertising and technical issues with the port. This is not the case. No Man s Sky is not eligible for automatic refunds beyond two hours in, but, like every Steam game, you can still appeal for a refund regardless of playtime.It seems because of the concerted effort in a thread with over 5,000 upvotes and how-to articles from multiple publications and YouTubers that some players have found success in their refund appeals but again, this is only because of their direct appeals to customer service, not a wider exemption. Right now, it's unclear how many refunds have been issued, and we may never know. But based on the massive success of NMS s launch, it s likely the percentage of players that refund the game won t make much of a dent in its long term performance. The confusion continues to poke at the flexibility of Steam s refund policy. In a game as expansive and as heavily marketed as No Man s Sky, how much playtime is needed to know a refund is necessary? Games are fluid, composed by teams of varying size, with varying budgets, and a wide variety of artistic intent. How much of the burden is on the development team for making a game that aligns with player expectations, and how much is on the player for keeping their expectations in check? If you ask me, the answer for players is simple. Don t pre-order games. You can t always trust marketing, but you also can t always trust your imagination.

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