LawBreakers

I have been playing LawBreakers a fair bit this past week and let me tell you: I am terrible at it. But it's been a long time since I've felt so inclined to get good at a shooter, and picking a character and sticking with it seems to be a better approach here than say, Overwatch or Rainbow Six. So this new patch, which quite dramatically tweaks two characters, will be consequential.

First of all, the Gunslinger's Warp ability will result in quicker traversal around the maps, as he'll now get better momentum with every use. This is because, while Warp was designed for combat scenarios, players have also been using it to move through the environments faster. 

He's also getting a new mechanic: if he lands a "fully charged Omega headshot" his Warp ability charge will be immediately replenished. But Gunslinger's changes don't come without at least one nerf. "In terms of combat Gunslinger is dominant right now, so we've nudged down his fully charged Omega damage and reduced the headshot multiplier on the TAC-knife so that it no longer one-shots squishy enemies."

Meanwhile, Harrier's Convergence ability has been waekened, with the super laser damage dropping from 500 to 400 DPS, while Wraith's Wasp stab is being reduced from 125 to 75 damage, but there's a precision reward which will output 125 damage.

There's a range of bug fixes as well, while loot boxes can now be opened while waiting to enter a match. It's worth checking out the full notes over here. And if you're wondering whether LawBreakers is worth jumping into, it is. But here's those thoughts elaborated on.

XCOM® 2

In one of the few, delightful acts of game marketing in some time, you can now make propaganda for your XCOM 2: War of the Chosen campaign using Propaganda Center, a free program on Steam. It isn't exactly Photoshop, but the posters you create appear in-game, letting you lionize heroes, ridicule Advent, or simply spread memes across alien-occupied Earth.

In the day that this tool has been available, XCOM players, including ourselves, have created some variously effective, funny, and inspiring indoctrination material. Here's the best stuff we've found on /r/XCOM, Twitter, and elsewhere:

A bunch of Starship Troopers posters have popped up, but I love the perspective on this one by NeuroticNyx.

An MIT grad with experience in theoretical physics and exobiological combat. Where you at, Gordon? (One of mine.)

I love this series of portraits by hydrostatic_shock, who uses the filter tool to great effect to showcase his squad. Click for the full gallery.

SayuriUliana flips the propaganda center on its head by creating some mildly upsetting pro-Advent material.

Minimal and inspiring, Redditor nalerenn is basically the Don Draper of XCOM.

You know, if one of my 86 percent-to-hit rockets missed and slammed into this instead, I wouldn't even be mad.

Simple character propaganda with a good tagline. Nice one, deiah.

In this time of global war and occupation, where pornography is likely banned, PCG editor Bo Moore fans the flames of dissent.

Wolverine and Rita "The Angel of Verdun" Vratski are here to remind you that swords are sharp, and they don't require bullets.

Canadians get the job done.

This TF2 tribute could use a Spy, but at least it doesn't miss the opportunity to throw shade on BLU.

"Sometimes you need to appeal to the basic instincts," writes Redditor iR0cket.

Safety reminders are valuable in this time of conflict. Thanks, HeavyRedditGuy.

You're either with us or you're against us.
Prey

A demo version of Prey was released earlier this year for consoles, but not the PC. Arkane's Raphael Colantonio said that sticking with consoles was simply "a resource assignment thing," and also pointed out that the graciousness of Steam refunds added up to effectively the same thing anyway: You can buy the game, play it for a couple hours, and then refund it if you don't like it.   

I didn't (and don't) agree with that take, but it doesn't matter anymore because a free trial version is now available on Steam, too. The announcement doesn't offer much in the way of detail, but the trailer describes it as the "first hour" of the game. To get it, just head to the Prey page on Steam and scroll down until you see the "Download Demo" button on the right, just below where it shows how many of your Steam friends want and have the game. Take it from there.

(The PS4 and Xbox One demos are also being transitioned to trials, the difference being that as a trial, any progress you make and Achievements or Trophies you earn will carry over to the full game if you opt to buy it. That apparently doesn't happen with demos.) 

Prey was also recently updated to version 1.05, which smooths out the experience with more than 30 bug fixes. A full rundown of the changes is below. 

  • Player can no longer become blocked from  rebooting Power Plant for the "Reboot" mission after killing the  Technopath in Life Support.
  • Fixed crash when mimicking bass guitar in the Yellow Tulip.
  • Extra  items gained through passive neuromods, such as organs and tumors from  Necropsy or spare parts through Dismantle, will now properly stack in  the player's inventory automatically.
  • Loading a save from a previous version of the game will no longer remove all quests and inventory, or break the HUD.
  • Fix for some AI-related crashes.
  • Various combat tweaks/fixes for mimics.
  • Opening the TranScribe will no longer disrupt FoV settings.
  • The light on top of a turret will no longer become detached when the player jumps and glides while holding it.
  • Approaching areas with Coral should no longer cause the client to stutter and eventually freeze.
  • Operator corpses from saves made on previous builds will no longer cause performance issues.
  • Repair II and III increase efficiency with suit patch kits. Reduced suit damage from enemies on easy and normal difficulty.
  • Increased  wrench range and strength of melee aim assist. Wrench now always  staggers mimics (interrupts attacks). Mimics stand further back to  prevent players having to look down too much.
  • Stun Gun now  tells the player when a target is out of its effective range. Weapons  will display a "Weapon Offline" when disabled by EMP.
  • Hepatocytic Amp S-m186 chipset now properly only removes the negative effects of the "Drunk" debuff
  • Player will now spawn in the correct location when traveling from Shuttle Bay to other locations.
  • Fixed rare crash when level transitioning to Life Support.
  • Reployers no longer lose collision when recycling them, and then loading a save where they were present.
  • Player can no longer bypass ceiling collision by mantling GLOO.
  • Danielle now voices the correct response to the player's actions with the Cook during the endgame sequence.
  • The fabricated coral detector chipset and the quest-given chipset now both function correctly to scan the coral when installed
  • Fix for rare freeze/crash when in combat with Phantoms.
  • The  Luther Glass quest will no longer incorrectly complete and fail after  the player has already completed the quest in Trauma Center.
  • Lights are no longer sometimes incorrectly 'on' when the player enters the Cargo Bay for the first time
  • Igwe will no longer be found in Cargo Bay when the 'meet January' call is triggered.
  • Mimic's wall jump attack animation is cancelled if they are stunned.
  • Treasure Hunt now lists an objective and marker to return to Abigail's workstation once all the maps are investigated.
  • The nightmare in the Arboretum is now able to get into the greenhouse and use ranged attacks on the player from the doorway.
  • Turrets can now be hacked properly if they've been previously controlled by the Technopath.
  • If  the player manages to fully GLOO the greater mimic while it is in  mid-lunge toward the player's face, the facegrab animation will no  longer play and trap the player.
  • Hitting a stunned Phantom with the wrench no longer breaks their animations
  • Raised phantoms and operators will no longer become hostile to the player 
  • Various crash fixes
  • Various text fixes.
We Happy Few

We Happy Few, the game about getting high and being happy in a not-quite-right alt-'60s England, has been available on Steam Early Access and GOG In Development for more than a year now. Full release is coming next year, Gearbox Publishing announced today, on April 13, 2018. But the good news of the launch date comes the bad news of a price hike, which in this case has seen the cost double from $30 to $60. 

Anyone who purchased We Happy Few prior to the increase will get the standard edition of the game, and the "Jolly Brolly" parasol weapon preorder bonus, for no extra cost. Tier 1 Kickstarter backers will also get the standard edition (but no preorder bonus), while Tier 2 (and higher) backers will get the preorder bonus and the season pass. (Yes, there will be one of those.) At Tier 10 and higher, all the physical swag included with the $150 Collector's Set will also be thrown in. 

The price increase is a kick in the knackers, but developer Compulsion Games said in a lengthy statement that it reflects an increase in the game's scope, from a small "roguelite" to a "full sized, retail game"—which is why it's going to stay in early access for so long.

"The stories of our three characters were rewritten, the quality of our encounters and world has been dramatically increased (that’s what the Clockwork Update was all about - refactoring to make sure we could begin to deliver on that increased quality), and the remnants of that little sandbox game at PAX 2015 were slowly overtaken by a much larger, story-driven experience," Compulsion said.   

"To do this, we sought additional funding, based on the enthusiasm showed by everyone at E3, and grew the team to make the game you wanted. We’re now a fantastic team of 40 people, up from the ~10 we were at PAX. The game that we’re planning to ship in April is roughly 2.5x the size of the Life in Technicolour Update (which has just gone live)in terms of pure content, and we’re confident that we will meet the quality and scope expectations that you guys have." 

The studio also addressed what it apparently sees as the inevitable complaints about DLC and the season pass, pointing out that months will pass between "content lock" and the actual release of the game—a period when a significant part of the team, including designers, artists, and animators, have nothing to do.

"DLC for us is not 'carving out existing content'; it’s building new content that we wouldn’t have been able to do as part of the main game," it explained. "It’s risky, because now that we’ve announced it we’ve committed to it. It’s our first time doing it, so maybe in a year we’ll have a different opinion. In the meantime, once work on the game finishes up, we’ll have a bit of a rest, and then dive into the wacky world of DLC." 

Risky it may be, but I think the price increase is the real roll of the dice here, at least in the short term. Come early next year, the price will probably seem unremarkable to people hearing about We Happy Few for the first time, but for right now it's bound to be a stinger—although full credit to Compulsion for being open and up-front about it. Find out more at wehappyfewgame.com.

The Evil Within 2

Stefano Valentini is a very bad artist. Which is not to say that his work, which you can get a taste of here, is bad—although that, along with other, sharper things is very much in the eye of the beholder. But what he does to create his masterpieces in the twisted realm of The Evil Within 2 is very bad indeed. 

Stefano was a reasonably straight-ahead guy at one point, but his hold on reality was broken when he was injured during a stint as a war photographer. He lost an eye, but gained a "vision" that left him obsessed with the moment of death—"that split second in time when people are, in his opinion, at their most open and most beautiful." Trouble is, he's not very patient about waiting for it to happen. 

It's not easy being a serial killer in the real world, but in STEM, he can do as he pleases. And for whatever reason, he sees Lily as "the key to unlocking the potential of this world." That's probably not going to sit super-well with Sebastian, Lily's father and the game's lead character, who's ventured back into STEM to rescue her. Luckily for Stefano, he's got backup. 

"Born from an untethered and immoral imagination and sculpted from blood and bone and flesh, Obscura is one of Stefano’s greatest masterpieces," Bethesda said. "Somewhere inside of Obscura is a story from another life, long before Stefano ever even learned of the existence of STEM—a story you’ll have to uncover for yourself as you explore Union and discover more about the twisted artist behind some of the horrors hunting you." 

The Evil Within 2 comes out on October 13, which is a Friday. Perfect. 

PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS

I haven't handled a gun in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds for weeks. In that time I've played over 30 rounds, covered hundreds of in-game miles, and have spent more time hiding in bushes than Sean Spicer. Anyone familiar with Brendan Greene's one-time-Arma mod-turned-runaway megahit will know this is unusual. 

On the off-chance you're not, here's the deal: PUBG is a battle royale sim that parachutes players into an open-world island, has you scrambling for supplies and weapons, and pits you against up to 99 other combatants in bloody warfare till but one person remains. To complicate things further, an ever-enclosing forcefield intermittently shrinks the battlefield to expedite the fight. Spend long enough outwith and you'll expire. Spend long enough within and you'll likely be shot dead—assuming you don't waste everyone else first.

Achieving the latter armed with a S686 shotgun or an M416 assault rifle is no easy feat. Doing so barefisted is… well, nothing is impossible, right?

Before commencing my bare knuckled quest, I decided against enforcing hard rules. I was aware players better than I had shared similar experiences online—however my one and only chicken dinner to this point came as a result of my final foe inadvertently falling foul of the forcefield. When it was all said and done, I'd rather pitifully managed to run over one enemy with one of the game's yellow, Mr Bean-esque Dacia cars, and had offed another with an inordinately flukey grenade lob. With this in mind I decided to take whatever I could get. 

At first, perhaps expectedly, this wasn't a lot. I spent my first several rounds aimlessly sprinting and dying, dying and sprinting (in no particular order) in and out of buildings which, shy of being accompanied by a Benny Hill score, was almost comical. As I danced over well-placed M249s, full ammo clips, and Crossbows, I could almost hear opposite players screaming: What the fuck is this clown doing?!

I imagined their laughter as I charged at them, fists flailing, as if mimicking that one drunk uncle invariably capable of emptying a wedding dance floor to the tune of Eye of the Tiger. Even when I outsmarted foes, I failed. Sneaking up from behind, or getting the jump on my aggressors was swiftly superseded by being shot point blank between the eyes. Moe Greene got off lightly against my plight—and my boxing technique when given a fair chance left much to be desired (skip to 1.50 below).

After a handful of single barefisted kills in almost 20 rounds, it was clear my strategy needed a drastic overhaul. In his esteemed and enduring treatise on military tactics The Art of War, the Chinese general and philosopher Sun Tzu writes: "The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy." 

Which to me of course translates to: If you can't win, hide in the bushes. Hide in the long grass. Hide in the toilets. Hell, hide wherever you can't be spotted. 

And so I did. I hid in bushes:

I hid in toilets:

In the most literal act of trolling, I hid under bridges: 

And, in a Theresa May-like rush of blood to the head, I hid in wheat fields:

I became a shadow, an unknown, and, still too often literally, a ghost. I racked up hours of peaceful wandering, as I toured The Island unarmed and rarely unchallenged before being abruptly offed as the circle inevitably and resolutely shortened. 

I grew to understand what Gil Lawson was getting at when she suggested Battlegrounds' map gets more haunting as you play it, happening upon quaint nooks and crannies I hadn't previously realised existed—all the while becoming interminably frustrated by my inability to tuck my bloody legs beneath a bed frame or under a hedge or behind a parked car. 

Seriously, I reckon I put new meaning to the term 'trickshot' by way of the amount of times I was killed with one-shots to my overimposing appendages. 

Eventually, though, I got my break. The gods took pity on me and the lay of the ever-enclosing battleground fell in my favour. With every reduced arena came planes of rough, or conveniently situated shrubbery. I crawled for what felt like miles till it was just me and two others in the final squeeze. The Good, The Bad, and The Suspicious Bush. 

Explosions tear through the otherwise tranquil forest. The two active fighters exchange gunfire. I daren't move a muscle for fear of my inflatable tube man legs being spotted. 

And then boom! The soldier at the far end is brought to their knees and suddenly it's one-on-one. 

I'm torn. Do I get up, run and hope for the best? Or do I lay in wait and hope that the now fallen third party shaved enough health off the remaining foe for me to stage a one-punch sneak attack?

I can't decide. Maybe I should move ever so slightly to the left and—BLOODY HELL WHY AM I SO BAD AT THIS GAME?!!!! 

A bullet to the head and my indecision and cowardice has cost me, which feels like a fitting end to my bare-fisted saga. Ah, well at least I've got my memories. 

Now if someone could please pass me that shotgun, that'd be grand.

Total War: WARHAMMER II

Total War: Warhammer 2's announcement trailer first aired back in March and—after showcasing High Elves, Dark Elves and Lizardmen at loggerheads—concluded with a rat nibbling on a corpse. Many speculated this, which features in the above trailer around the 2.28 mark, all but confirmed the Skaven as the turn-based-strategy's then unannounced fourth race. Today, Creative Assembly has confirmed this to be true. 

Led to battle by Queek Headtaker and Lord Skrolk, the following cinematic shows the rat horde in blood-spilling action against the Lizardmen and Dark Elves. 

"Their motives obscured, the devious Skaven are a highly numerous species who inhabit vast subterranean lairs," so says publisher Sega in a statement. "Now, their time of prophecy is upon us, and this verminous Race have emerged to spread pestilence and mayhem across the face of the New World."

And with that, the not-so-secret Skaven will now officially join the Lizardmen, High Elves and Dark Elves in battle when Total War: Warhammer 2 lands on September 28. Head this way for trailers of the other factions at war.     

PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS

When I spoke to PUBG's Brendan Greene a few weeks ago, he told me the promises he made at the beginning of the runaway hit's development regarding launch dates "came from naivety on [his] part". Bluehole has now stressed that the revised "Q4 2017" target is still on-track, but that weekly and monthly updates will be sidestepped in order to maintain a "high standard of quality."

By way of this Steam Community update post, Bluehole says that changes to the game's schedule aim to improve how it as a team works on the game and how it continues to set "realistic" expectations for players. 

"Until the official release of the game, we will not have our scheduled weekly or monthly patches rolling out as often as before," reads the post. "We’ve found internally that being rushed to finish certain features, and having shorter QA test time between pushing updates caused more issues than it solved in regards to maintaining a high standard of quality. We want to put our best content out, and ensure that everything we do is making the game more enjoyable with every update."

Bluehole continues to say that while weekly patches may fall by the wayside from hereon, the developer will use the time to test for "significantly" longer periods. In turn it hopes to produce more polishes and accomplished updates.

The post adds: "Again, we would like to assure you all that we are still on-track to release our game as per our updated timeline, and we want to emphasize to you that we are not winding down the development, or complacent. We have a lot of work to do, and we want this game to be released with as many fun, rich, enjoyable features and mechanics as possible. Our team will continue to be hard at work, and we are always listening to your feedback."

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen

After reading Tom's thoughts on XCOM 2's War of the Chosen earlier this week, I feel a little overwhelmed. With a host of additional technical features applied to what was already a pretty complex game—not to mention a cartload of new customisation options—it looks like we'll have our work cut out for us when the expansion lands later this month. 

Until then, its 'Propaganda Center' photobooth feature can be downloaded now, free-of-charge, on Steam

Available to all, the Propaganda Center allows players to craft "war-and-meme worthy" posters using a variety of different backgrounds, soldier poses and filters. From the main menu, players can view and use their Character Pool or opt to create new soldiers entirely. 

A total of 23 different background images await creative hands, alongside 16 different layouts. "Do you want to make it look like you're taking a snapshot of drafting a recruitment poster?" asks this Steam community post. That's up to you to decide—do so in this direction

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen is due August 29. If you missed the link to Tom's early thoughts above, let me redirect you here

Middle-earth™: Shadow of War™

One of the most amusing gulfs between film trailers and video game trailers is that while the former is fairly coy with violence, the latter does not give a single damn crap. Take this new Shadow of War trailer for instance: the amount of Orcs getting brutally maimed, face-smashed and lashed is actually very gruesome. But it kinda slides right over you, it's just more of the same really. 

This trailer showcases / celebrates / threatens with an Orc tribe known as Terror. You'll see why they've got that name when you watch the trailer, but they've got that name for a much more functional reason: they literally spread fear throughout Mordor. Which, if you played Shadow of Mordor already, you'll know has in-game ramifications.

So says the YouTube description: "In Shadow of War, Orcs now belong to tribes, which extend their influence stemming from the Overlords ruling the mighty fortresses throughout the open world, providing a rich ecosystem of missions, exploration and a dynamic Orc society with diverse Orc cultures, all brought to life through the expanded Nemesis System. As master tormentors, the Terror tribe rely on their infamous reputations to inspire fear among their enemies.

Shadow of War releases October 10. Check out the trailer below:

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