PC Gamer

As Tyler and I recently "argued", there are a lot of new survival games out there in Early Access. Most aren't great, and in their not-yet-finished states are often buggy affairs with a lot of missing parts. Still, there's usually some enjoyment to be found in even the earliest of Early Access survival games, be it a couple of enjoyable features, some interesting ideas, or perhaps just some entertaining activities, such as bashing yourself in the face with a rock you keep holstered in your own butt.

Asteroids: Outpost, another Early Access survival FPS, doesn't seem to have any of those bright spots lurking amongst its space rubble. After finding a server and picking a spot for a base, you're tasked with gathering ore, which comes from the constant barrage of very, very slowly falling meteorites. In fact, I'm not sure barrage is the right word. Do you typically have to wait for a barrage?

Your base has a turret, which auto-fires to keep these meteorites from destroying your new home, but a meteorite shot by an auto-turret does not produce ore. Nor is ore produced by a meteorite that is allowed to crash to the ground. Ore is only produced by you manually firing your turret. So, that's what you do. You sit in your turret and shoot dozens and dozens of meteorites as they slowly tumble from the sky.

Having shot rocks, I prepare to shoot rocks again. The same rocks.

You're not done shooting rocks! To gather the ore, you leave your base, run to the chunks of ore you've shot down, and shoot them again, this time with one of two mining guns. These guns run out of ammo quickly, and you run out of oxygen quickly, so you have to make several trips back to your base to recharge.

Once you've shot rocks and then shot them again, and then gone back and shot more rocks and then shot more rocks again, you can build new prefabricated modules for your station. You can also visit the Ore Exchange terminal in your base, which sounds like a place to sell the types of ore you don't need and buy the types of ore you do need. It's not, though: you can only sell ore, and use the resulting cash to upgrade your spacesuit or vehicle. So, if you need 550 iron ore, you're gonna have to shoot it all yourself, even if you have a ton of gold ore you don't need.

If I could show you something besides me shooting rocks I would, I swear.

What else is there to do? Well, I visited someone else's base. They weren't home, and even though their force field door did nothing to stop me from entering their base, I couldn't recharge my oxygen so I suffocated in there. I also died from being hit on the head by a meteorite. And, I spent a good long while trying to collect enough ore for a vehicle pad, so I could drive a car around.

Unfortunately, Asteroids: Outpost completely crashes when you alt-tab out, which I kept doing because I do that a lot, and I kept forgetting not to. Also, I was trying to repair my base with a repair tool and wound up deleting part of it, and when I tried to replace it, instead of walls it just had orange sparkles.

I don't think I can live inside sparkles.

Then I thought... you know what? If I have to shoot any more rocks and then shoot them again, I think I'm going to cry. Then I quit. Well, I tried to. I probably should have just alt-tabbed.

That's not soon enough.
PC Gamer

Such was the demand for our previous Heroes of the Storm beta giveaway, that Blizzard has kindly offered us an additional 1500 keys for Australian readers. The process is the same as last time: provide your email in the widget below, and if you're successful you'll get an email this coming Tuesday (7/4) with your beta key. 

The key is activated in Battle.net, so if you don't already have an account you'd best be setting one up. To reiterate, the key will only work for Australian and New Zealand residents.

While you wait, check out this recent PAX interview with Heroes of the Storm game director Dustin Browder, or peruse this idiots guide.

PC Gamer

Arma 3 just got real. More realer. Incrementally more realismistic than it was just hours ago.

Three Arma 3 modding teams are merging to create the next iteration of Advanced Combat Environment, ACE3, a close-to-comprehensive rework of Arma 3 s systems and features. ACE has been a mainstay of hardcore Arma for years, it s essentially the platform that groups like Shack Tactical use as the foundation for their serious fun style of play.

I asked ShackTac founder Dslyecxi what excited him about the ACE3 announcement, and he rattled off: Consolidation of talent, open-source, modular, top devs, that sort of thing. I have confidence they'll deliver a quality product. Given the history of stuff like Black Mesa, any uber-ambitious modding project gives us a bit of pause even as we applaud its lofty goals. ACE s track record is excellent, though. And despite the long feature list, the way its announcement is tempered with focus is encouraging. We are devoted to NOT reinventing the wheel, finding the best solutions, and bringing them to one place, while also fostering a development environment that promotes stability and performance, developer NouberNou writes on the Arma 3 official forums.

Noubernou says that ACE3 s initial release goals will be made playable following Bohemia s release of the Arma 3 Marksmen DLC. Below, a list of planned features from the team. If you missed it, check out the winners of Bohemia's Make Arma Not War modding competition.

Core features

  • Completely new 3D Interaction/Action System
  • Performance and reliability framework
  • Focus on modularity and customization
  • New flexible client and server settings & configuration
  • Improved medical system with various levels (Basic/Advanced) focus on gameplay/realism
  • Proper & consistent network synced weather
  • Wind and Weather Advanced Ballistics
  • Captivity System
  • Explosives System including different trigger types
  • Map screen improvements, marker placement and map tools
  • Advanced missile guidance and laser designation

Additional features

  • Carrying and dragging
  • Realistic names for vehicles and weapons
  • Realistic ballistics/FCS calculated in C/C++ extensions
  • Backblast and overpressure simulation
  • A fire control system for armored vehicles and helicopters
  • Disposable launchers
  • Realistic G-forces
  • Vehicle Locking
  • Realistic Night and Thermal vision modes
  • Magazine repacking
  • Realistic weapon heating
  • Combat deafness simulation
  • Improved Ragdoll Physics
  • Improved interactions for AARs and ammo bearers
  • Adjustable sniper scopes
  • No Idle Animation with lowered weapon
  • No talking player Avatar
  • Jumping over obstacles, climbing over walls and cutting down fences
  • Vector, MicroDAGR and Kestrel devices
PC Gamer

Arma 3 just got real. More realer. Incrementally more realismistic than it was just hours ago.

Three prominent Arma 3 modding teams are merging to create the next iteration of Advanced Combat Environment, ACE3, a close-to-comprehensive rework of Arma 3 s systems and features. ACE has been a mainstay of hardcore Arma for years, it s essentially the platform that groups like Shack Tactical use as the foundation for their serious fun style of play.

I asked ShackTac founder Dslyecxi what excited him about the ACE3 announcement, and he rattled off: Consolidation of talent, open-source, modular, top devs, that sort of thing. I have confidence they'll deliver a quality product. Given the history of stuff like Black Mesa, any uber-ambitious modding project gives us a bit of pause even as we applaud its lofty goals. ACE s track record is excellent, though. And despite the long feature list, the way its announcement is tempered with focus is encouraging. We are devoted to NOT reinventing the wheel, finding the best solutions, and bringing them to one place, while also fostering a development environment that promotes stability and performance, developer NouberNou writes on the Arma 3 official forums.

Noubernou says that ACE3 s initial release goals will be made playable following Bohemia s release of the Arma 3 Marksmen DLC. Below, a list of planned features from the team.

Core features

  • Completely new 3D Interaction/Action System
  • Performance and reliability framework
  • Focus on modularity and customization
  • New flexible client and server settings & configuration
  • Improved medical system with various levels (Basic/Advanced) focus on gameplay/realism
  • Proper & consistent network synced weather
  • Wind and Weather Advanced Ballistics
  • Captivity System
  • Explosives System including different trigger types
  • Map screen improvements, marker placement and map tools
  • Advanced missile guidance and laser designation

Additional features

  • Carrying and dragging
  • Realistic names for vehicles and weapons
  • Realistic ballistics/FCS calculated in C/C++ extensions
  • Backblast and overpressure simulation
  • A fire control system for armored vehicles and helicopters
  • Disposable launchers
  • Realistic G-forces
  • Vehicle Locking
  • Realistic Night and Thermal vision modes
  • Magazine repacking
  • Realistic weapon heating
  • Combat deafness simulation
  • Improved Ragdoll Physics
  • Improved interactions for AARs and ammo bearers
  • Adjustable sniper scopes
  • No Idle Animation with lowered weapon
  • No talking player Avatar
  • Jumping over obstacles, climbing over walls and cutting down fences
  • Vector, MicroDAGR and Kestrel devices
PC Gamer

Remember when Codemasters announced plans to remove Games for Windows Live from Dirt 3 and transition it to Steamworks instead? That was in 2013. I don't imagine anyone took them too seriously three months ago when they said they were still working on it, but today the studio announced that the magic moment has finally arrived.

"First up I want to say sorry for just how long it has taken to move DiRT 3 to Steamworks and I would also like to thank you all for keeping up the pressure on us to move it over. Every day I have over a hundred notifications on my Steam account, there are threads thousands of comments deep about it and countless Tweets and Facebook messages - while you d think it would be the kind of thing that would bug the hell out of me, you d be wrong," Community Manager Lee Williams wrote on Steam. "It just goes to show that you guys love DiRT and care about it a lot."

Interestingly, it appears that instead of actually changing Dirt 3, Codemasters is simply giving everyone who owns it a free copy of Dirt 3 Complete Edition, which includes all of the DLC and uses Steamworks instead of GFWL. "Those who originally purchased the game via Steam will notice that the now old GFWL version of DiRT 3 will still be in your library," Williams wrote. "You will still be able to play this version but it will still include Games for Windows Live and you won t have access to the Complete Edition content—nothing will have changed with that older version."

Unfortunately, because of differences in the two versions, saves are not compatible, so veteran Dirt-ers will have to start over from scratch. On the upside, owners of the boxed or GFWL versions can activate those keys on Steam to get the Dirt 3 Complete Edition at no charge. A few users, myself included, have reported that the game hasn't appeared in their library yet; Williams suggested that anyone encountering a delay log out of Steam and then reconnect.

PC Gamer

While many fans of 2012's Sleeping Dogs were hoping for a proper sequel, United Front Games and Square Enix have instead gone a different route with Triad Wars, a free-to-play multiplayer online action game currently in closed beta. Like Sleeping Dogs, Triad Wars is set in Hong Kong, and challenges players to start as a common street thug and build up their own criminal empire, piece by piece, while competing with their rivals.

One of the first things you'll see in the Triad Wars beta is the suggestion that it's more fun to play with a controller. I'd actually go as far as saying you absolutely need a controller, especially for driving, which feels next to impossible on a keyboard. Shooting is probably easier with the mouse, but everything else from, combat to just running around, performs much better with a controller.

As a low-level thug, you begin by choosing one of three gangs to join, each focusing on a different criminal enterprise, like gambling, extortion, and counterfeiting. After a few introductory missions, you're given a cluster of buildings to serve as your base of operations. Initially, it's not much, but you can choose from a few types of moneymaking operations—cock fighting, card rooms, manufacturing knock-off merchandise—and slowly upgrade them as you play. You're also given goons to protect your turf, and they can be upgraded as well.

Meanwhile, other players are doing the same. Knock them down a peg by invading their turf, smacking around their goons, and pummeling the boss (an AI-controlled version of another player). Raids are timed: you only have a couple of minutes to invade before the cops show up, though you can extend this by engaging in a couple of activities beforehand: shaking down a goon for info, snatching a rival's deliveries, or beating a small group of his thugs into the ground.

Combat is enjoyable enough, and the punching and kicking feel pretty good, as does countering enemy attacks like Arkham's Batman: when an enemy shows a red outline you can tap a button to avoid the blow and return one of your own. There are also grappling moves, which are fun: grab a guy by the vest, push him over to a car, and slam his head in the door. Or, yank him over to a Dumpster and chuck him inside. With cops, countering is even more fun: as they try to slap cuffs on you, you can spin them around, cuff them, and kick them to the ground.

Naturally, this being a free-to-play game, there's an in-game currency, gold, which can be earned in tiny amounts by completing objectives or in larger amounts by spending real-world cash. Gold can be spent on favor cards (which can also be earned by completing objectives), which give you temporary weapon unlocks, combat buffs, or other bonuses. You can also spend gold on vehicles and clothing. I bought a hat. It was all I could afford, even after a couple hours of playing.

With only a small section of the city map currently available, and only a handful of repetitive missions in the beta, there's an almost instant feeling of grinding that sets in. Every rival's base is identical, so even raids feel rote after just one or two. I can definitely sense some promise in Triad Wars, and I'd like to revisit it later, but it's just too early to pin any real hopes on it. It's free, though, so if you can get into the closed beta, I do recommend taking a look.

PC Gamer

In early 2013, Riot Games issued a permanent ban against League of Legends players Nicolaj Jensen and Khaled Abusagr because of persistent toxic behavior and participation in DDoS attacks against other players. Yesterday, however, it rescinded the ban against Jensen, meaning he will be eligible to resume playing professionally on May 11 of this year.

Nicolaj 'Incarnati0n' Jensen

Image via Twitter

The reinstatement, as noted by Kotaku, is the result of changes made last year to Riot's policies regarding bans and permabans, which now "focus on the goal of reform, not just punishment." As part of those changes, permabans became indefinite suspensions, subject to a review process once a mandatory minimum period of time had passed. "Each review is holistic and takes into account both in and out of game behavior," the policy states. "Penalized players need to show through their ongoing actions that they have made a genuine and long-term change in their behavior."

Jensen apparently has. "Since his last review, Jensen has continued to demonstrate behavior in game that is well above the normal standards of good behavior across all of his accounts since at least January 2014," Riot wrote in the suspension review summary. "Additionally, according to our monitoring tools, he has not been implicated in any DDOS or Drophacking-related exploits since Q2 2013. There have been no serious offenses or violations of the letter or spirit of the Summoner Code since his account-sharing related offense in Q1 2014."

Jensen is the first permabanned League of Legends pro to ever be reinstated, and because of that Riot took extra care to get it right. "In this most recent review, in addition to a review of old and secondary accounts through November, all games on his most recent primary account for which there was a shadow of a doubt regarding Jensen s behavior were individually analyzed," it wrote. "All the data supports the conclusion that Jensen has legitimately reformed and has earned a second chance."

Unfortunately for Abusagr, Riot declared in no uncertain terms that he's not ready to return. "Abusagr continues to display unacceptably negative behavior without any significant progress toward reform. His most active account has been reported in 47 percent of his games in the last 90 days and 50 percent in the last 60. He's received a total of 1830 reports in 590 games. 70 percent of which were for offensive language, verbal abuse or negative attitude. An audit of chat logs from games he has been reported in reveals consistently offensive, hostile, and homophobic rhetoric," Riot wrote. In light of his "absolute lack of commitment to reform," Abusagr won't be eligible for review again until summer 2017.

PC Gamer
WHY I LOVE

In Why I Love, PC Gamer writers pick an aspect of PC gaming that they love and write about why it's brilliant. Today, Tom savours the tactile excellence of Metro's machinery.

If you're into atmospheric FPS games and haven't played Metro 2033 or Metro: Last Light then you're in for a treat. These maudlin shooters are set in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event that's driven humanity into the Moscow metro. The series is largely set in these gorgeous tunnels, dripping with irradiated gloop, inhabited by strange misshapen creatures and tolerated by a populace of hardened grumps.

Both games are beautiful—especially since 2033 received the Redux update—and both use the transition between underground and overground areas to pace your journey through the wasteland, exposing you to a series of carefully framed scenes of extraordinary destruction—a crashed airliner in the rubble of a skyscraper, a huge concrete wound that exposes the mangled platforms of a once-buried station. It's hard to compress the strange cocktail of melancholy and amazement these scenes inspire into a single phrase. Let's go with "misery-awe".

Metro is so effective because it uses its props to embody you in its world. Metro's guns are creaky analogue things that need to be cranked and punched into working order. Your keep your light alive by pumping the handle of a manual battery. Your pneumatic rifle uses a little circular meter to let you know how much power it has in the tank. The dial is rusted and wobbly, and the little dial inside looks like it would quiver convincingly if you gave it a flick.

You're always seeing your hands manipulating your gear, and these animations sell the heft of these rusted old weapons brilliantly. Everything seems oddly robust, as though assembled by a pragmatic hand. It feels like the designers know how each gun or tool works, and could almost build you one if they had the right parts. There's a terrific machinegun that sends the clip horizontally through the body of the gun. You don't need a fancy ammo counter or UI device to know how many rounds you have left, you can just count them.

The gas mask might be Metro's greatest triumph. You need it to breathe the deadly atmosphere on the surface, but wearing it is oppressive. The entire soundscape becomes muted and your breathing becomes loud and harsh. As your filter wears out, you start to choke. The scratched visor becomes damaged as you fight, and can be dirtied by blood and radioactive dust. There's even a button that lets you wipe it down, with a perfect little plastic squeak of course

It's one of the most reactive and tactile objects in games. You can tell it's effective, because it's a real relief when you're finally allowed to tear it off. Even thinking about it makes me want to take a deep breath and be glad of this lovely breathable air. Metro could do the same for you, too. I recommend it.

PC Gamer

Full Control announced in mid-March that Space Hulk: Ascension will be its final game, but it's got one more DLC release to get out the door before it's done, and it sounds like a good one. Bringer of Sorrow will add more than 25 hours of new content to the game, with 20 story missions and 20 flash missions featuring the elite Deathwing company of the Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter.

The expansion will see the planet Corinthe fall under Tyranid attack from a newly emerged Space Hulk. It will also add a new weapon, the area-effect Plasma Cannon that's capable of "causing insane amounts of damage to swathes of enemies," and the new Apothecary class that bolsters nearby Terminators and supports defensive play styles.

Released in November 2014, Space Hulk: Ascension is a standalone expansion to/overhaul of Full Control's 2013 Space Hulk, which did not fare particularly well with critics or fans. Ascension, on the other hand, has been far more well-received.

Dark Angels have been at the top of the community s most wanted list since we launched Ascension, so we wanted to do something really special for their Space Hulk debut , Full Control CEO Thomas Hentschel Lund said.

The Bringer of Sorrow expansion will be out later this month.

PC Gamer
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